The Falcons' 2022 campaign is complete, but mailbag rolls on. Bair Mail's a year-round thing. That's a real plus, considering how much there is to discuss as we navigate through an offseason where the Falcons have tons of salary cap space and quality draft capital to work with.
They'll be newsmakers quite often this offseason, while hiring a defensive coordinator – we'll miss you, Dean – and possibly extending some of their own top players. Then comes free agency, when they can go for upper-tier options if they so choose. And the NFL Draft will be as important as it was last year, armed with the No. 8 overall pick. They hit jackpot last year with Drake London and will need to do so again this spring.
We talk about which player they could add in the first round, pressing positional needs and, of course, Desmond Ridder and the future of the quarterback position.
Let's get into all that in this Tuesday Bair Mail:
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
OK, Scott, short and sweet: Did Ridder do enough to be QB1 next year? Thanks.
Bair: I don't think it's possible for Desmond Ridder to have done enough in four starts to make him a 100 percent lock for the starting gig in 2023. I will say, though, that he made steady progress and earned the right to compete for the job next season and the opportunity to prove he's a long-term solution under center.
He could be a long-term option starting next year. He could sit another campaign behind an established starter. There is zero reason, however, to cut bait. Ridder proved he can play at this level, with a keen self-awareness that helps him continually make progress.
Something else to ponder here: Ridder's talent and performance doesn't exist in a vacuum. His performance will also be graded against what else the Falcons can get. Is a premium talent available who could be great? That's better than very good, right? Teams are always looking for upgrades, especially at the sport's most important position. The Falcons are no different. If there's an offer they can't refuse or a quarterback they can't pass up on, then make a bold move. If they do, that shouldn't reflect poorly on Ridder in any way. He was solid, showed NFL talent and got better. And he's a gamer. That's all you can ask for over four starts at the end of a rookie year.
Artura Purnell from Atlanta
If YOU were the GM, would you draft a QB with your first pick in the upcoming draft or would you stick with trying to develop Ridder? In addition, if you stick with Ridder, do you draft a deep threat?
Bair: The first-round NFL draft order (for non-playoff teams) hasn't been set a full day and we've already got a question about what to do with the No. 8 overall selection. Love it, Artura. This is gonna be a fun offseason. Let's dare to dream.
If I'm Falcons GM (scans paycheck), which I most certainly am not, I don't know if I go quarterback at No. 8. Now, as the Bair Mail regulars already know, there's a QB caveat: unless you fall in love with one of them. Then all bets are off and you go QB.
Assuming that's not the case, I'm going with the best defender available. In a perfect world, that's an edge rusher. There will probably be a good one at eight. Get that guy to Atlanta, stat. The Falcons have to remake their defensive front seven. They need to form a fierce and aggressive attack that can win one-on-one matchups. If an interior defensive lineman's rated higher, take him instead.
I also think fans might riot if the Falcons take a first-round receiver/skill player after Kyle Pitts and Drake London. They do need to add in that area, maybe with a mid-round speedster and a savvy veteran. That would address two areas Arthur Smith mentioned as needs on Sunday: offensive explosiveness and the pass rush. Again, though, falling in love with a quarterback changes things. If I'm making a bold prediction, I think they add a veteran via free agency or trade to the quarterback room. The amount they pay, if they go that route, will be telling.
Barry Wynn from Rex, Ga.
Now that the rookie class has finished strong and Falcons know they draft 8th. So it will be best player available again for the draft, One pundit has them taking a defensive end from Clemson. I am sure it will change. I know at some point you will be doing mock drafts. Once free agency is finished it will clear the air. Do you have a favorite player that you like at eight that is not a qb?
Bair: It's funny that you mention Myles Murphy out of Clemson. That was going to be my answer to your question, as someone you could realistically get at No. 8. He's a massive human at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. He's also only 20. I like that he has tons of tackles for losses and tons of forced fumbles. That's an important combo for me. If you're going to take a guy down, you should take the ball away while you're there. He's quick for his size and has explosive power. He's also big enough to slide inside if necessary, or he can just be a handful off the edge.
I think defense is the way to go up top, unless a QB is viewed as an elite talent. Murphy would be a smart start to the Falcons' 2023 NFL Draft.
Call for questions
We've officially hit the offseason. Let's load up the mailbag with questions right here about what they Falcons might do next.
We take a monochrome look at the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 8, 2023.