*Houston Texans send No. 3 to the Atlanta Falcons for No. 8, No. 43, 2023 1st and 2024 2nd
With the New Orleans Saints moving up to two the Atlanta Falcons feel the divisional pressure and move up to three in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Last year, the 49ers spent three firsts and a third to jump from 12 to three. This jump is smaller, so it only takes two firsts and two seconds, plus a second this year is more valuable than a first in a couple years during a rebuild.
For Atlanta, they are at a crossroads. They’ve moved on from Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley is suspended. Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson provide weapons, but this team is going to need more.
At quarterback, Marcus Mariota has upside. However, like Winston, his deal doesn’t scream starter. He could be cut after this season for just $2.5 million in dead cap. That sure leaves the door open for Atlanta to invest in a young quarterback to eventually take over for Mariota.
Pickett will need some time to clean up his game a bit, but his style resembles that of Mariota or Ryan Tannehill. He has an above average arm and can become mobile if needed. That’s the type of future quarterback Arthur Smith is going to want for his offense and that’s why Atlanta could make the move up to ensure they get Pickett.
With the early quarterback frenzy, the New York Jets could be gifted one of the top two players in this draft class in Evan Neal. The Jets have already invested in protecting Zach Wilson. Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker have the left side of the line locked down and they brought in free agent Laken Tomlinson to be the right guard, but George Fant won’t cut it at right tackle.
Neal was the third best prospect at the NFL Combine in terms of grade, but just barely graded better than fellow tackle Ikem Ekwonu. The Jets could go either way, depending on who they evaluate as the better fit, but most are pointing to that being Neal. For a team that is trying to rebuild, Neal is a solid pick with the fourth selection.