2024 Atlanta Falcons 7-round mock draft: A shift to defense in first round


Greg Auman

NFC South Reporter

It’s a dubious streak the Falcons have, not only picking in the top 10 in each of the past three drafts, but using all three picks on offensive skill-position players. New quarterback Kirk Cousins can now enjoy that underutilized trifecta — tight end Kyle Pitts in 2021, receiver Drake London in 2022, running back Bijan Robinson in 2023 — but the streak really should end this month.

Atlanta is still picking in the top 10, but that penchant for offensive targets will probably shift with its No. 8 overall pick. With a heavy lean on offense at the top of the draft — quarterbacks, receivers and tackles — the Falcons could easily have their pick of any defensive player.

And even with a nice uptick in sacks this past season, Atlanta would do well to take a pass-rusher with its top pick, with most pundits favoring Alabama’s Dallas Turner over Florida State’s Jared Verse and UCLA’s Laiatu Latu for that honor. If there were still a QB-hungry team looking to move up, it wouldn’t be crazy for the Falcons to trade down a few spots, say to the Vikings at 11, perhaps still getting the first edge off the board and picking up an extra second-day pick.

Let’s take a look at how Atlanta’s draft might go.

First round, No. 8: OLB Dallas Turner, Alabama

Quick trivia question: Who was the last Falcons player to have 10 sacks in a season? It’s been a while. Atlanta hasn’t even had an eight-sack season since 2019, and to get double digits, you have to go back to Vic Beasley in 2016. That’s the longest drought of any NFL team — 27 of 32 teams have had a 10-sack season in the past three years. Atlanta has put just one first-round pick into an edge rusher in that span, taking Takk McKinley with the 26th pick in 2017. So this has been a neglected position recently for the Falcons.

Is Turner the guy to end that streak? He’s set up well for it. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year had 10 sacks last year and…

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Publish date : 2024-04-03 12:50:06

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