The Atlanta Falcons made several moves this offseason and are now in limbo. Here’s how I think their 2022 NFL Draft could shape up.
The NFC South is in an exciting division with intrigue; all three of the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers are not ready for a run. But it is all centered around Tom Brady in Tampa. So all three of these teams should assume their window to make a run and take the division between 2023-2024 when Brady retires.
So gearing up now, making the right moves in the draft and FA will set them apart. The Falcons are a bit in limbo right now. They can try and go all in, but if they blow it they set themselves back years. Or, they can slowly bring in this new Falcons team and compete in a few years. So which one will they do in my mock draft?
1st round 8th overall pick- Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE Oregon
Thibodeaux is a bit of Schrodinger’s cat here; on the one hand, you have an elite talent who can take over a game. On the other hand, you are unsure which Thibodeaux you get to play. This is sort of the same issue the NFL had with Clowney. The only difference is that Clowney destroyed the combine in every aspect and he only did the 40-yard and bench.
Though I’m not mad about a guy with 33in arms at 258 throwing up 225, 27 times. The Falcons could be getting the next Myles Garrett or the next Clowney; either way, it’s worth the risk here. They will hang his jersey in the rafters sometime in the next two decades if he pans out.
Thibodeaux reminded me of a line from the movie “Miracle” about the USA hockey team when they talked about a goalie, and the coach responded, “Have you ever seen him when his game is on?” When you watch the Thibodeaux when he’s on his game, you see the next game-changing pass rusher/LB in the NFL.
2nd round 43rd overall pick- Breece Hall, RB Iowa State
Flat out, this kid is an animal at running back. He would be a first-round pick, but the NFL is following a trend. They see how much EDGE, OL, and WR are getting in FA and taking the easier contracts, causing him to fall. He is the best running back in this class and is a pure game-breaker.
Mixing Hall with Patterson will make the most dangerous backfield in the NFL. They can do anything they want, run, pass, jet sweep, RPO, and not to mention, the defense will have to be forced to play the run. This is a steal at 43rd overall, and looking forward, Patterson is not going to be able to keep this up forever; if they can get Hall and next year a quarterback with Pitts, they will set themselves up nicely for the future on low-end contracts.
2nd round 58th overall pick- Chad Muma, LB Wyoming
If you don’t know Chad Muma, you should; if Josh Allen never existed, he might be the best prospect to come out of Wyoming. Muma could be the best defensive player to ever come out of the Mountian West Conference. He has the size and speed you want and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
I watched him play several times this year, and he can do anything from the linebacker position. Now, I won’t say he’s Luke Kuechley, but he’s pretty close to what I think he can achieve at the next level. Muma will be a staple of this defense for years to come and completely change the identity of that defense.
3rd round 74th overall pick- Velus Jones Jr., WR Tennessee
Like Muma, if you have not heard about Jones yet, you will soon. His stock is climbing, and doing so quickly, he may end up in the second round. Jones would be a similar type of player to a Patterson or Deebo as he can play in the backfield and on the outside.
With insane speed, though he’s just six-foot flat, he will most likely come into camp around 205-210, and I don’t see that hurting his speed much. When he has the ball in his hands, he’s a running back; this could be another game-breaker for the Falcons, who are lacking at wide receiver badly.
3rd round 82nd overall pick- Carson Strong, QB Nevada
Do you remember Matt Ryan? Well, Carson Strong is about the same. He’s not mobile, but he can make any throw over the field. Strong will need some development time, as he can climb the pocket too quickly due to his lack of athletic ability into sacks and has a tendency to hold the ball a bit long. But he has a straight cannon, and with Jones, Ridley, Pitts, and Patterson, there’s no telling how many yards he could put up with the right coaching.
4th round 114th overall pick- Reed Blankenship, S Middle Tennessee
Straight up, this kid can hit; he will match well with Muma in front of him or if they are both LB on nickel plays. Don’t expect him to be moved around into corner or slot often; he does not have the elite speed needed. But he is a traditional hard-hitting zone safety who can quickly come in day one and play in three high or come down into an LB role in nickel or dime.
I thought he would come out last year, but after playing an extra year, he may be moved his stock one or two rounds. Good player, just limited athletic upside.
5th round 151st overall pick- Josh Jobe, CB Alabama
This would be another legion of boom-type of corners, big, lanky, and tall. He has limited athletic ability and may not be suitable for zone and man coverage. Jobe will have a decent career, but maybe as a CB3 and spot starter at CB2, or an occasional slot corner.
Should his athletic ability decline as he gets a heavier look for him to move to safety. He is still talented like most Alabama corners are, but his upside is less than we are used to seeing. At worst, he is a CB4/SS3 with every down ability on special teams.
6th round 190th overall pick- Cade Mays, IOL Tennessee
Tennessee is starting to make a name for itself for churning out offensive linemen; Cade Mays is the next one in the mix. I think he’s a little tall and big to be a guard and a little slow. He might move over to tackle at some point in his career.
However, the trend of big extended centers may give him a shot to move into the center. Coming into this team, I think he could start at any RG/LG/C positions by mid-season. He will give them good depth and rotation. Looking forward, they can also use him as a building block for their future OL to protect whatever QB they want to lead them to the promised land.
6th round 213th overall pick- P.J. Mustipher, IDL Penn State
P.J. will be a good fit as a defensive tackle, but that’s about it. He’s got great burst and can help with his size and speed in the run game. But he is still very raw, and I would expect him to take a couple of years to be a full-time player.
If he can slim down to around 295-305 and push that 40 into the 4.8 range, he might make for a terrific run-stopping defensive end who can roll to the defensive tackle slot when it’s a three-man front.