The Falcons sit a game under .500 with two weeks left in the season. A road game against the Bills and a season finale at home against the Saints are ahead as Atlanta scraps and claws for one of the final playoff spots in the NFC. At 7-8, the Falcons will have to win out and have some favorable outcomes around the league to get into the postseason. More than likely, these final two games stand between the Falcons and the 2022 offseason.
In what could be a pivotal launch point for this regime, the end of the 2021 season will mark the beginning of what will be an exciting draft and free agency period. The Falcons could use bolstering along both the offensive and defensive lines, emphasizing the edge. An influx of talent is necessary at wide receiver as well, among other positions — CB, S, RB.
Terry Fontenot will take a different approach to address each need, whether that be bringing in a rookie through the draft or a veteran through free agency. For instance, the offensive line’s composition is extremely young, so it would make sense for Fontenot to bring in a veteran presence if the goal is to win right now. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fontenot brings in at least one offensive line prospect each draft. Each strategy varies with each position.
The Falcons only have two wide receivers under contract in 2022 — Calvin Ridley and Frank Darby. With so much uncertainty surrounding Ridley, the Falcons must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Like the receiving core, the edge defenders are scarce in 2022; Ade Ogundeji is the only true EDGE under contract for next season. It would make sense to bring in bodies through the draft at these positions but more so at EDGE because the best defenses have a revolving door of pass rushers in different stages of their development, so when one leaves in free agency, the fountain replenishes itself.
The reality is the Falcons need a wide range of prospects — high-end starters and rotational pieces — so no position is off the table. The most significant additions always come in the earlier rounds, so the Falcons will have a great chance to bring in four starting-caliber players. With four selections in the first 75(ish) picks, Fontenot can build a real solid foundation for Arthur Smith going forward. With two games to go, the Falcons have the following draft picks in the 2022 NFL draft:
Round 1, Pick 10
Round 2, Pick 46
Round 2, Pick 61 (from Titans)
Round 3, Pick 77
Round 4, Pick 114
Round 5, Pick 152
Round 6, Pick 189