We're at a point in the pre-NFL-draft process where fans are interested to know what their team will do with a first-round pick.
That's certainly the case with the Falcons at No. 8 overall. I will say there's a wild discrepancy for what y'all want done with it. You all can't even agree on a position group, let alone an individual player.
There's the edge rusher camp, the offensive line camp, the receiver camp. There's a crew that thinks a quarterback is essential, others who see it as a wasted pick.
So interesting to see the cross-section of opinions. We address all those points of view, and what determines success in 2022. Also, read all the way to the end, because we'll throw a fun opportunity to interact and make the Falcons pick:
Rick Bleiweiss from Ashland, Ore.
I have been a huge Mariota fan from the first time I saw him play at the U of Oregon. He's exciting, talented, a superb human being, and a dual threat as a passer and a runner. He will be fun to watch. My question is: while we'd all like to see him and the Falcons win it all, what level of success would you be happy with this coming season?
Bair: I covered a Raiders team in 2014 that started 0-10, fired a coach in-season and finished 3-13. That sounds like a miserable season to cover. It actually wasn't, because, despite the poor on-field product, the Raiders had an unreal rookie class featuring Khalil Mack and Derek Carr. You could chart their progress, and you felt as if you were watching a young foundation be built before your eyes.
More than any record, that's what I'll be looking for in 2022. It's more of an eye test than anything. Is Richie Grant progressing? Is a young offensive line coming together? How much of an impact does this first-round pick make? Is Marcus Mariota the real deal?
There will be so many questions needing answers. The more positive responses, the better the Falcons will be heading into a 2023 offseason full of promise (and financial flexibility).
We take a look at eight options for Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Hey Scott, it's been far too long. I'm recent days and weeks we've seen rumblings of Thibodeaux's draft stock falling and Ridder's ascending. Considering both have been linked to Atlanta, do you think it's all just pre-draft smoke or are there any validity to these rumors? Especially given the Steelers, Panthers, and Saints potentially making moves for a QB.
On a side note did you happen to hear about your guy Kyle Hamilton tweeting out that Drake and Lebron are better than both Michael Jackson and Jordan in their respective careers? That blasphemy drops him on my draft board posthaste.
Bair: In my opinion, I think the theory that Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux will drop deep into the top is bollocks. No way, man. He's too good. I've mocked him at No. 8 a few times, but lately I don't think there's any way he falls that far. No. 7 to the Giants might be his floor.
There's also some talk of Cincinnati quarterback of Desmond Ridder going higher than expected, maybe in the first round. He could be perceived as a pro-ready prospect an otherwise established team might jump at (see: Seahawks, Seattle). I think that's definitely a possibility.
No matter how much a team is linked to a player, doesn't mean they'll get him. I don't see a trade back into the late first round to secure a quarterback, but that's just me.
Also, that's the first disappointing thing I've heard about Kyle Hamilton. Ha! These young kids gotta know they're history. I'll take the MJs in that comparison, any day.
James Tate from Glendale, Ariz.
Hey Bair! So much debate on who we should take at #8 from all of the sports outlets. I feel like they don't have a clue about the ATL. We've had troubles in the trenches for a long while now that needs to be fixed before we can truly contend. We need to take an Edge or address the O-line at #8, a real difference maker. If we can't stabilize our lines, the skill positions really won't matter that much. What is your take on this?
Bair: I assume you're referring to the mocks attaching receivers and the occasional cornerback to the Falcons. If they can match an edge rusher of quality to the No. 8 pick, that'd be hard to pass up. Would you rather have the draft class' best receiver or the No. 4 tackle? I go receiver there. Kris Rhim wrote about Garrett Wilson Friday and I'm intrigued.
I do agree they have to be better along both fronts. I think that's important for Arthur Smith and Dean Pees and how they like to run their units. Those areas will get fixed over time. I think there's a rush on the defensive line, especially, which wasn't nearly good enough in 2021.
Jerry B from Hinesville, Ga.
Hey Bair! I think Evans, Mariota, and Hayward were good free agent pickups. However, Mariota can't throw it to Pitts every passing down. We need to move down in the draft and grab a weapon for Mariota. That way we could possibly grab another weapon in round 2 with 3 picks. The other two picks could be offensive and defensive linemen. I know we're in dire need of a pass rusher but it's just not there this year. I actually like the offensive linemen better than the edge rushers in this draft. What do you think?
Bair: If the Falcons were going to trade down, into the late teens especially, receiver would be a quality option. It seems like there's going to be a run on edge rushers and offensive tackles early, then a long wait before the next bunch goes. Receiver seems to start around 10 and extend throughout the round.
I don't agree that I like offensive tackles over edge rusher, though you've got to take one high. Coming away with Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker or Jermaine Johnson II would be a win, but you probably can't trade down and even expect to get Johnson.
They do need edge rushers, though, Jerry. Maybe more than one to shake up the position group. There are some good second-round options as well in a deep class at the position.
Make the pick
Who would you select at No. 8 overall?? I want to know. We're gonna use Mel Kiper’s latest mock as a starting point, with him taking the first seven picks. You make the Falcons pick at No. 8 and tell me why you chose him right here. If you're gonna trade down, I want a FULLY EXECUTED trade accepted (not forced) by PFF's mock draft simulator and who you took in the first. I'll include every response in Monday's Bair Mail.
Here's who Mel had in the top 7:
1. JAX – EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
2. DET – S Kyle Hamilton
3. HOU – OT Ikem Ekwonu
4. NYJ – WR Drake London
5. NYG – OT Evan Neal
6. CAR – EDGE Travon Walker
7. NYG – EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Call for questions
While we're playing this game, please don't forget to ask a question so we can keep the dialogue going in Monday's Bair Mail. It's the same link as above, but I’ll include it here.
Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast
Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Atlanta Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.
Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.