2022 Atlanta Falcons Draft Guide
*How To Watch *
The 2022 NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes live from Las Vegas. The Draft will kick off with the first round on Thursday, April 28 at 8 p.m. ET with the second and third rounds beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, April 29, and the fourth through seventh rounds beginning at noon ET on Saturday, April 30.
Falcons fans can get their pre-draft fix by tuning into Fox 5 Atlanta for a special edition of Dirty Birds: Path to the Draft presented by Gatorade on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. The one-hour draft special will feature an exclusive live interview with general manager Terry Fontenot as well as live reports from Las Vegas, Flowery Branch and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
AtlantaFalcons.com will air a special Pre-Draft live show at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday shortly before the Falcons go on the clock. Presented by Truist, the show will be live streamed on AtlantaFalcons.com. and led by Wes Durham and Dave Archer. The duo will break down the teams' roster, needs, prospects the Falcons could target, and their picks for how the draft will shake out. The show will also feature interviews with head coach Arthur Smith and Fontenot as they put the finishing touches on their preparations.
Round 1 | Pick 8 (8 overall)
Round 2 | Pick 11 (43 overall)
Round 2 | Pick 26 (58 overall) from TEN
Round 3 | Pick 10 (74 overall)
Round 3 | Pick 18 (82 overall) from IND
Round 4 | Pick 9 (114 overall)
Round 5 | Pick 8 (151 overall)
Round 6 | Pick 11 (190 overall)
Round 6 | Pick 35* (213 overall)
* - Denotes a compensatory pick.
Confident, Excited and Prepared
Beginning on April 28, the Falcons will kick off their second draft under General Manager Terry Fontenot and Head Coach Arthur Smith. In the pre-draft press conference, Fontenot acknowledged all of the work that has gone into the lead up to Thursday night.
"As Thursday approaches, there's a lot of people that have worked hard to get us prepared for the draft," said Fontenot. "We feel very confident, excited and prepared, and we're excited about what we're going to be able to do day one, two and three and that's because a lot of people have had their hands in it starting with the college scouting department, who they've grinded through this process for a long time; the coaches … IT, analytics, the video department, the training room, the doctors, a lot of people have put a lot of work into this. I would say we're very thankful and excited as we approach the draft."
In their first draft together in 2021, the Falcons had to navigate COVID-19 protocols, resulting in limited face-to-face contact with prospects during the pre-draft process. This time around, coaches and scouts had access to prospects at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Pro Days, top 30 visits and were able to host a local pro day at the Flowery Branch facility.
When asked about the benefit of having a pre-draft process with prospect visits and pro days, Fontenot acknowledged the Falcons were able to accomplish everything they needed to virtually in 2021, but admitted, "being in person and getting that time up close, I think that's valuable."
What Will They Do at 8?
Holding a top 10 selection for the second straight year leaves Fontenot and Smith with several options when the Falcons go on the clock with the eighth overall pick. A variety of needs and an evolving roster make the Falcons one of the more difficult teams to predict. In contrast to 2021, when the tea leaves seemed to all but guarantee three quarterbacks would come off of the board before the Falcons picked at four, there is much more uncertainty in how things will shake out in the first seven picks this year.
"When is the last time we sat here and everyone doesn't know who the first and second pick are? It's unique," Fontenot said. "Especially last year we were sitting here, we were like the first pick of the draft because especially once San Francisco traded up we basically knew the first three players that were going to come off the board.
Now this year that's not the case and we're sitting at 8, so we try our best to anticipate what's going to go in front of us, but we have to be prepared for a lot of different variables and a lot of different scenarios, whether we have to stack the players and be prepared to take them off how we see them, but we also have to be prepared to have those conversations about moving up, about moving down."
However things shake out, Atlanta is in a great position to add value to the roster with the eighth-overall selection. Last year, there was a sense that the Falcons were likely to take Kyle Pitts following the first three quarterbacks off the board. This year, there's a lack of consensus on who the first pick of the draft will be, which then cascades the uncertainty down from 2-7.
Fontenot and Smith have made it clear that they plan on selecting the best player available at each opportunity and will look to add to every position group on the roster.
"There's not one position that we don't need to add competition to, which makes this process very easy for us because we want to add quality players and human being into this team and into this locker room," Fontenot said in the pre-draft press conference.
"I think the more we can continue to add at every position, increase the competition, improve the roster, that's what we'll do," Smith added.
A survey of 15 mock drafts from various NFL reporters published this week featured eight different players the Falcons could select at No. 8. The mock drafts also have four different players going first overall – Georgia's Travon Walker, Michigan's Aiden Hutchinson, Alabama's Evan Neal and North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu.
Ten of the 15 mock drafts have Atlanta selecting a wide receiver with the eighth pick. Six have Atlanta selecting Ohio State's Garrett Wilson at eight. Peter King, Albert Breer and CBS' Chris Trapasso each slotted Southern California WR Drake London to the Falcons at eight, while FOX's Jason McIntyre has Atlanta selecting Alabama's Jameson Williams.
While two-thirds of these recent mock drafts have Atlanta addressing the offensive side of the ball, there's also a thought that the Falcons might go defense. The five remaining mocks feature five different prospects from four different position groups going to the Falcons – Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson, Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton.
History of the 8th Overall Pick
The Falcons will pick eighth in the Draft for the fifth time in franchise history. The club has selected the following players with the eighth overall selection in previous drafts:
Falcons selected eighth overall in franchise history
2015 – OLB Vic Beasley – Clemson
2007 – DE Jamaal Anderson – Arkansas
2004 – CB DeAngelo Hall – Virginia Tech
1992 – T Bob Whitfield – Stanford
Players Selected eighth overall since 2000
2021 – CB Jaycee Horn – Panthers
2020 – LB Isaiah Simmons – Cardinals
2019 – TE T.J. Hockenson* – Lions
2018 – LB Roquan Smith – Bears
2017 – RB Christian McCaffrey* – Panthers
2016 – T Jack Conklin – Titans
2015 – OLB Vic Beasley* – Falcons
2014 – DB Justin Gilbert – Browns
2013 – WR Tavon Austin – Rams
2012 – QB Ryan Tannehill* – Dolphins
2011 – QB Jake Locker – Titans
2010 – LB Rolando McClain – Alabama
2009 – T Eugene Monroe – Jaguars
2008 – DE Derrick Harvey – Jaguars
2007 – DE Gaines Adams – Buccaneers
2006 - DB Donte Whitner* – Bills
2005 – DB Antrel Rolle* – Cardinals
2004 – DB DeAngelo Hall* – Falcons
2003 – T Jordan Gross – Panthers
2002 – DB Roy Williams* - Cowboys
2001 – WR David Terrell - Bears
2000 – WR Plaxico Burress – Steelers
*-Denotes Pro Bowl selection.
Pro Football HOFers selected 8th overall in common draft era
1993 – T Willie Roaf – Saints
1982 – G Mike Munchak – Oakland
1981 – DB Ronnie Lott – San Francisco
1968 – RB Larry Csonka – Miami
Pre-Common Draft Era Highlights
1962 – WR Lance Alworth – San Francisco
1961 – TE Mike Ditka – Houston Oilers
1957 – T Jim Parker – Baltimore Colts
We take a look at eight options for Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Since 2000, the eighth-overall pick in the NFL Draft has been traded six times.
The last time the eighth overall selection was traded was in 2016 as part of Philadelphia's trade to select Carson Wentz second overall. The Miami Dolphins originally held the selection, trading the pick to Philadelphia. The Eagles then used the pick to move up to the second-overall selection in a swap with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland then moved the pick to the Tennessee Titans, who would select offensive tackle Jack Conklin out of Michigan State with the eighth pick.
- Titans: OL Jack Conklin (2016, 8th overall), (2016, 176th overall)^
- Browns: WR Corey Coleman (2016, 15th overall), OL Shon Coleman (2016, 76th overall), QB DeShone Kizer (2017, 52nd overall)
- ^ - Tennessee traded the 176th pick to Denver, who selected FB Andy Janovich
- Cleveland originally acquired the eighth-overall selection in a trade with Philadelphia where the Eagles received the second-overall pick and a conditional fifth, while the Browns received Philadelphia's first-, third- and fourth-round selections in 2016 as well as a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018.
- Philadelphia originally received the eighth-overall pick in a trade with Miami, sending the 13th pick, CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins in exchange for the eighth pick.
On Draft night in 2014, the Browns traded the No. 4 pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for the No. 9 pick, and the Bills first and fourth-round picks in 2015. The Bills used this selection to take Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Cleveland then moved up one spot from No. 9 to No. 8 in a trade with Minnesota to select cornerback Justin Gilbert.
- Browns: CB Justin Gilbert^ (2014, 8th overall)
- Vikings: LB Anthony Barr (2014, 9th overall), OL David Yankey (2014, 145th overall)
- ^ - Cleveland traded No. 4 to Buffalo for No. 9 and the Bills first- and fourth-round picks in 2015.
In 2013, the St. Louis Rams moved up from No. 13 to No. 8 in a trade with Buffalo to select WR Tavon Austin out of West Virginia. As part of the trade, the Bills would select QB EJ Manuel with the No. 16 pick in 2013.
- Rams: WR Tavon Austin (2013, 8th overall)
- Bills: QB EJ Manuel (2013, 16th overall), LB Kiko Alonso (2013, 46th overall), WR Marquise Goodwin (2013, 78th overall), TE Chris Gragg (2013, 222nd overall)
Jacksonville moved up from No. 26 to No. 8 overall in a move with Baltimore in 2008 to select DE Derrick Harvey out of Florida. The Ravens would use the picks they received in the trade with Jacksonville to move back up in the first round in a trade with Houston to select QB Joe Flacco with the 18th-overall pick.
- Jaguars: DE Derrick Harvey (2008, 8th overall)
- Ravens: QB Joe Flacco (2008, 16th overall)^, LB Tavares Gooden (2008, 71st overall), (2008, 89th overall), (2008, 125th overall)^^
- ^ - The Ravens traded Jacksonville's No. 26 pick, No. 89 pick, as well as their own sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall) to Houston in exchange for the No. 16 pick.
- ^^ - Baltimore traded Jacksonville's No. 125 pick to Oakland in exchange for CB Fabian Washington.
One of the four times Atlanta has made the eighth-overall selection in the common draft era came via trade. The Falcons traded QB Matt Schaub and the 10th overall pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for the eighth pick, as well as Houston's second-round selections in both 2007 and 2008.
- Falcons: DE Jamaal Anderson (2007, 8th overall), OL Justin Blalock (2007, 39th overall), OL Sam Baker (2008, 21st overall).^
- Texans: QB Matt Schaub, DL Amobi Okoye (2007, 10th overall)
- ^ - Atlanta traded Houston's second-round pick in 2008, along with its own second- and fourth-round picks to Washington in exchange for a first-, third- and fifth-round selection in 2008 NFL Draft. The Falcons would select OL Sam Baker out of USC with the 21st overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Kansas City traded the eighth-overall pick, a third-round pick (75th overall) and a 2003 sixth-round pick (186th overall) to Dallas in exchange for the sixth-overall pick in 2002. The Chiefs selected defensive tackle Ryan Sims out of North Carolina, while the Cowboys selected safety Roy Williams out of Oklahoma.
- Chiefs: DT Ryan Sims (2002, 6th overall)
- Cowboys: S Roy Williams (2002, 8th overall), CB Derek Ross (2002, 75th overall), WR Zuriel Smith (2003, 186th overall)
There is a tremendous amount of buzz and excitement surrounding the Falcons top selection in the draft; however, the club's ability to find contributing players with its additional eight picks will be an important factor in building the roster for the short, mid-and –long-term future. With that in mind, we'll look at where the Falcons are picking in the later rounds and some of the team's current day-three finds.
Round 2 | 43 overall
2022 will mark the third time Atlanta will pick at 43. The Falcons selected linebacker Steve Stewart out of Minnesota in 1978 and defensive back James Britt from LSU in 1983.
Notable 43rd picks: LB Benardrick McKinney (2015, Houston), TE Kyle Rudolph (2011, Minnesota), DB Roman Harper (2006, New Orleans), RB Corey Dillon (1997, Cincinnati), WR Muhsin Muhammad (1996, Carolina), RB Glyn Milburn (1993, Denver), LB Matt Millen (1980, Oakland), *HOF T Dan Dierdorf (1971, St. Louis Cardinals), HOF QB Sonny Jurgensen (1957, Philadelphia). *
Round 2 | 58 overall
The Falcons have picked 58th once before, selecting cornerback Isaiah Oliver in the 2018 NFL Draft. Oliver has recorded 159 total tackles (12 solo), 27 passes defensed, four tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery in 50 games (33 starts) for the Falcons over the past four seasons, and recently signed a one-year contract with Atlanta for the 2022 season.
Notable 58th picks: LB Nick Bolton (2021, Kansas City), DE Markus Golden (2015, Arizona), LB Lavonte David (2012, Tampa Bay), C Jeremy Newberry (1998, San Francisco), HOF DB Dick LeBeau (1959, Cleveland).
Round 3 | 74 overall
This will mark the second time in franchise history the Falcons have made a selection with the 74th pick. Atlanta drafted WR Jammi German out of Miami (Fla.) with the 74th overall selection in the 1998 Draft.
Notable 74th picks: DE Justin Tuck (2005, New York Giants), WR Steve Smith Sr. (2001, Carolina), HOF RB Curtis Martin (1995, New England), HOF G Will Shields (1993, Kansas City), HOF TE Charlie Sanders (1968, Detroit), HOF DB Larry Wilson (1960, St. Louis Cardinals).
Round 3 | 82 overall
The Falcons have never made a selection with the 82nd overall pick in the NFL Draft; however, there have been 14 players selected at No. 82 that have received Pro Bowl honors. Atlanta has made the 81st overall selection four times, including Pro Bowl tight ends Austin Hooper (2016) and Jim Mitchell (1969).
Notable 82nd selections: S Tracy Walker (2018, Detroit), WR Emmanuel Sanders (2010, Pittsburgh), *HOF S John Lynch (1993, Tampa Bay), HOF QB Joe Montana (1979, San Francisco), HOF WR John Stallworth (1974, Pittsburgh). *
Round 4 | 114 overall
The Falcons hold the 114th overall selection for a second-consecutive year after drafting offensive lineman Drew Dalman in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Dalman appeared in all 17 games as a rookie last season and contributed on special teams and as a reserve offensive lineman.
This will mark the fourth time Atlanta has held the 114th overall selection. In addition to Dalman, the Falcons selected linebacker James Goode in 1991 and wide receiver Tim Dwight in 1998. Dwight would go on to have a 10-year NFL career, serving primarily as a punt and kick returner.
Notable 114th picks: TE Dennis Pitta (2010, Baltimore), WR Jerome Mathis (2005, Houston), RB Herschel Walker (1985, Dallas), WR Carlos Carson (1980, Kansas City), WR Pat Tilley (1976, St. Louis Cardinals).
Round 5 | 151 overall
The Falcons have made the 151st selection twice before in team history, selecting defensive back Martine Bercher in 1967 and tight end Mitch Lyons out of Michigan State in 1993. Lyons appeared in 51 games (18 starts) for the Falcons from 1993-96.
Notable 151st picks: OL Larry Borom (2021, Chicago), DE Marvin Washington (1989, New York Jets), DT Steve Martin (1996, Indianapolis), RB Walt Garrison (1966, Kansas City), RB Jim Nance (not that one; 1965, Boston Patriots), RB Hewritt Dixon (1963, Pittsburgh).
Round 6 | 190 overall
2022 will mark the first time that the Falcons have picked at 190 overall.
Notable 190th picks: S DeShon Elliott (2018, Baltimore), RB Rex Burkhead (2013, Cincinnati), DB George Atkinson (1968, Oakland).
Round 6 | 213 overall
Atlanta has never selected 213th overall in the NFL Draft.
Notable 213th picks: QB Derek Anderson (2005, Baltimore), DB Yeremiah Bell (2003, Miami), WR Donald Driver (1999, Green Bay).
We take a look back at some of our top pics since 1981.
Atlanta's Top Day 3 Picks
The Falcons selected Grady Jarrett in the fifth round (137th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Clemson. Jarrett was the 11th player selected at his position in 2015. Now entering his eighth season in Atlanta, Jarrett has recorded 359 total tackles (198 solo), 26.5 sacks, 54 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and 89 quarterback hits in 110 games with 95 starts. The Conyers, Ga., native is a two-time Pro Bowler and an Atlanta Falcons Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Nominee.
The Falcons selected linebacker Mykal Walker in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2020 Draft out of Fresno State. In two seasons, Walker has notched 67 total tackles (41 solo), 13 special teams tackles, three quarterback hits, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception – which he returned 66 yards for a touchdown – in 33 games with eight starts.
Atlanta selected outside linebacker Adetokunbo Ogundeji in the fifth round (182nd overall) of last year's draft out of Notre Dame. The 6-foot-4, 268-pound linebacker appeared in 16 games, starting 11, and finished his rookie campaign with 32 total tackles (18 solo), 1.0 sack, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal. Ogundeji's five tackles for loss were tied for the most among all rookies selected in the fifth round or later and were tied for the 11th-most among all rookies in 2021.
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Falcons Draft History
The Falcons made their first-ever draft selection with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1966 draft. The newly minted team made Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis the first player in club history. He would go on to play his entire 11-year NFL career in Atlanta and earned the moniker 'Mr. Falcon'. Nobis was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor in the inaugural class in 2004.
All but two members of the team's Ring of Honor were selected by the Falcons in the draft. The exceptions are Warrick Dunn, who was taken 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997, and Jessie Tuggle, who was undrafted out of Valdosta State.
Seven of the Ring of Honor inductees were selected by the Falcons in the first round, including Nobis ('66), Claude Humphrey ('68), Steve Bartkowski ('75), Mike Kenn ('78), Gerald Riggs ('82), Deion Sanders ('89) and Roddy White ('05). Jeff Van Note was selected in the 11th round of the 1969 draft with the 262nd overall pick while William Andrews went in the third round - 79th overall – 10 years later in 1979.
The Falcons have selected three players in the draft that have gone on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sanders, Humphrey, and Brett Favre who was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 1991 draft. He played in just two games for Atlanta before being traded to the Green Bay Packers.
The Falcons have selected players from 165 schools, with LSU leading the way in terms of Falcons picks. Atlanta has selected 13 LSU Tigers since 1966. The Falcons have selected 11 players from Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, and Wisconsin. The Falcons have selected 10 players from Florida and Stanford, and nine players each from Alabama, Auburn, Colorado and Georgia.
Excluding Favre, the Falcons have drafted 17 players that have been named first-team All-Pro and 44 players that have earned Pro Bowl honors – most recently cornerback A.J. Terrell (2020; 2021 All-Pro) and tight end Kyle Pitts (2021; 2021 Pro Bowl).
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What happened to our seventh-round pick?
- We traded it to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for tight end Lee Smith. Primarily a blocking tight end, Smith brought a veteran presence to the tight end room in 2021. The 11-year NFL veteran recorded nine receptions for 65 yards (7.2 avg.) and one touchdown – a game-tying score in the Falcons' first win over the Giants in New York. Following the conclusion of the season, Smith retired from football to start his next journey in life.
How do compensatory picks work?
- The NFL uses a complex formula, awarding compensatory picks to "Clubs that lose to other Clubs a greater number of compensatory free agents than they sign or acquire from other Clubs".
How much time does each team have for each pick?
- Each team has 10 minutes to make its pick in the first round on Thursday. The second and third rounds are on Friday; rounds 4-7 are on Saturday. Teams get seven minutes to make picks in the second round, five minutes for regular or compensatory picks in rounds 3-6 and four minutes in round 7. If a team lets its time expire without making a choice, it can make a selection later — but it runs the risk of letting the next team on the clock take the player it was considering.
Where is it taking place?
- The 87th annual NFL Draft will take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas at the heart of the Strip, with Draft Experience and the Draft Theater located behind the High Roller and The LINQ, adjacent to Caesars Forum.
How do rookie contracts work?
- Every pick in the draft has a minimum and maximum he gets paid throughout that contract and very few things can be negotiated. The maximum annual increase in salary in each of those first four years is 25% of the cap number in year one. That number is the sum of a prorated signing bonus, which varies, and the rookie minimum salary. All deals signed include a base salary and the remainder of the contract is done within those constraints. Teams have the option to pick up a fifth year on the rookie contract but must do so before the fourth year of that deal officially begins. If that option is exercised, the fifth year is fully guaranteed. If a player is a top 10 pick, the fifth-year salary is the average of the 10 highest salaries for a player's position in the fourth year of his deal.
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