Who is the best option at pick eight for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2022 NFL Draft?
The Atlanta Falcons are in a serious rebuild. After trading away Julio Jones last offseason, Atlanta took it one step further in trading away Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. The Falcons now have several selections on the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft, which will help reload the roster.
The front office is (rightfully) getting some heat for taking Kyle Pitts at number four overall. Pitts is a fantastic player already, but opting for him over a quarterback in a very good class is tough to defend, especially with the info we have now.
The eighth pick in this draft is important for general manager Terry Fontenot. It’s going to kickstart a rebuild, and getting this pick right could give the Falcons a cornerstone on the defensive (or offensive) part of the ball. So who is the best option for the Atlanta Falcons at pick eight in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s look at the top candidates.
If the fall of Kayvon Thibodeaux is a real thing, and teams like the Jets and Giants pass on him, then this would be the dream for the Atlanta Falcons. Thibodeaux’s first step, bend, and ability to flatten his track to the quarterback is impressive. He plays with power, has a hot motor, and would ignite a pass rush that has struggled for the better part of the past half-decade.
Jermaine Johnson II
Jermaine Johnson II would be a very good consolation prize at eight for the Falcons in terms of edge rushers. Johnson’s 2021 season was a very good one at Florida State, posting 12 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. He sets a strong edge in the run game, playing physical at the point of attack and possessing the power and hand usage to shed and make tackles. He’s improving as a rusher, with good hand technique and ability to convert some explosion to power. Johnson would be an early-impact player on all three downs.
Jordan Davis might be an early down player in the early stages of his career, but he’s darn good at it. Davis will be able to take on multiple offensive linemen at the point of attack. His power looks easy and his quicks are underrated. He pursues hard on every play, and the quickness and pop in his hands could unlock more as a pass rusher. A Davis-Grady Jarrett combination sounds incredible.
Yes, receiver has to at least be on the table at eight, depending on what happens. Outside of Pitts, it’s rough to look at the receiver room. Drake London is often highlighted as the “catch point winner” in this class, and it’s a fair assessment on the surface, because he does win in contested spots a lot. However, he’s more than that. His ability after the catch is very good, and his ability to ID coverage and attack space is impressive for a young receiver. Not to mention, he can win versus press and has efficient breaks.
It feels pretty likely that Kyle Hamilton will be available for the Atlanta Falcons. After his odd pro day time, teams might be backing off more than they already were. Yes, the Falcons do have Richie Grant who they hope develops, along with Jaylinn Hawkins, but Hamilton would be an immediate upgrade who can move all over the defense.
A wicked-quick separator who can win in every phase? Yes, that’s Garrett Wilson. His pacing and footwork can get out of hand, but I’d rather have to reign that in and know he’s trying to stay creative to get open early in his stem. Wilson could become a 1B to Pitts’ 1A early in his career and provide another reliable target for Marcus Mariota.
Which Pick Is Best For The Atlanta Falcons?
As much as adding a flashy receiver would be cool to pair with Pitts, the Atlanta Falcons should be concerned with the trenches. If Thibodeaux is available, it’s a no-brainer. He would ignite the pass rush and bring a cornerstone to the defense. If he isn’t there, it’s a little more difficult.
Still, leaning towards either Jermaine Johnson or Jordan Davis feels like the right call. If positional value matters most here, then it’s Johnson, who gives the Falcons immediate contributions as a three-down defender on the edge. But, knowing the depth of the edge class, if you feel comfortable waiting for a duo of Arnold Ebiketie and Drake Jackson on day two to pin their ears back and rush, then Davis is the guy. Hamilton is a wild card because he’s just that good.
With everything taken into account, including positional value, the Atlanta Falcons should get the best value they can at edge rusher in the 2022 NFL Draft, and either Thibodeaux or Johnson is the way to go in round one.