We are counting down the hours until the NFL draft, and the Falcons are in a position to come away with a blue-chip prospect. Many national draft pundits have slotted Atlanta taking a receiver with their eighth overall pick. And rightfully so, the Falcons boast one of the worst receiving cores in football because of Calvin Ridley‘s suspension.
The names most fans have been seeing are Drake London and Garrett Wilson to Atlanta, but I don’t believe the Falcons will select either. In fact, I’ve been outspoken about the organization not drafting a receiver with their first-round pick because I believe there are at least eight prospects higher on the Falcons’ big board than any wideout prospect.
In the Falcons’ end-of-season presser, the former long-time Saints executive [Fontenot] said BPA has a proven track record, and straying from this strategy is “how you make mistakes.” Every year, organizations will reach on prospects because they’re desperate for a player of that particular position; sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. The Falcons won’t make that mistake. Fontenot will select the highest graded prospect on their big board, regardless of the position.
A selection this high in the draft is supposed to be a cornerstone of the rebuild. Finding a difference-making receiver in the later rounds shouldn’t be as difficult as finding a pass rusher or offensive linemen to build the team around. Nobody — no one successful, at least — constructs rosters around receivers. Many have described this class as deep, so, in theory, Atlanta should be able to find quality pass catchers with their other selections.
Now, saying all of this is pointless if the Falcons have London, Wilson, or any other receiver prospect ranked highly. If the front office does, then they’ll absolutely select one of them. Aidan Hutchinson (long shot), Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Travon Walker (long shot), Sauce Gardner, Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jermaine Johnson II, and Derek Stingley Jr. should all be higher than London and Wilson on Atlanta’s big board.
The Falcons certainly could draft a receiver with their first-round pick, but it would be because that prospect is the highest-graded player left on the Falcons’ big board. They’re not going to reach for a wideout just because it’s an obvious need. I just don’t see any receiver prospect being better than any of the players mentioned above.
With that being said, if the Falcons do select a receiver, it still shouldn’t be Drake London or Garrett Wilson. In my eyes, Jameson Williams is the best prospect in this class, and Dane Brugler agrees. In The Athletic’s latest mock draft, the highly regarded Brugler has Atlanta taking the first receiver off the board in Jamo.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Like other rebuilding teams in the top 10, there are several different directions the Falcons could go, including pass rusher (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jermaine Johnson). Some around the league think this is where we see the first quarterback off the board. But this is also where we could see the first receiver drafted, and it could be Williams despite his ACL injury.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire
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