Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all have a fun weekend planned because, in three weeks' time, you'll be glued to the TV or phone waiting to see how the Falcons complete their 2022 NFL Draft class.
They've got options aplenty with five picks in the first three rounds, plus a premium spot at No. 8 overall.
That's the focus on the latest mailbag, where even questions about veteran talent re-center on the draft.
Let's dig into all of it in this Friday Bair Mail:
Matt Lee from Pensacola, Fla.
Do you think we are trading Grady or Deion (after June 1st). And how could this affect the draft? Can you give some trade back from 8 targets?
Bair: There's a lot to unpack there, Matt. Let's break it all down real quick:
On Grady: Arthur Smith addressed this at the NFL owners meetings and made it clear that they appreciate Jarrett. I don't think a trade is in the works. An extension or continuation of the working relationship seems more likely.
On Deion: Tori McElhaney summed up the Deion Jones contract situation well, right here.
On draft impact: I don't think it would. Falcons should go BPA all the way through.
On trade-back targets: There are several I like, including:
10-15 range: Edge Jermaine Johnson, CB Derek Stingley, OT Trevor Penning, DT Davonte Wyatt, CB Trent McDuffie, WR Chris Olave, WR Drake London (maybe)
16-32: WR Jameson Williams, CB Andrew Booth, CB Kaiir Elam, QB Matt Corral, WR Treylon Burks, WR Christian Watson
Jeremy Baker from Calhoun, Ga.
What do the falcons do at pick 8, your final prediction, not who, because that's just a hard determination to make, but what position do falcons address at pick 8?
Bair: Always tough to make a final prediction at this stage, with some pre-draft process left to go. It's also hard because there should be a collection of talents all playing different positions worthy of a top 10 pick.
But, since you're asking, I'll go with my gut here and say edge rusher. There are enough top talents that one could fall at No. 8 overall, even with Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux all off the board.
Jermaine Johnson could be a good pick at No. 8, though I'd abandon ship on that for Sauce Gardner (I'd bet he's gone by then). I'd consider Charles Cross really hard if he's there, and I believe I've made it plain how feel about Kyle Hamilton as a defensive keystone. You'd lso be abandoning the BEST receiver for the fourth edge rusher. All things to ponder, Jeremy.
Bill Whitten from Killen, Ga.
How is it possible for the Falcons to go from being in the Super Bowl in 2017 to not having a strength in any area and needing help at every position with the exception of the field goal kicker?
Bair: That's a deep thought, Bill, with a layered and nuanced and complex answer we don't have time for here. It boils down, however, to a few key points:
1. Doling out too much money all at once, and paying for past performance
2. Missing more than you hit in Rounds 1-4, with some spots with no real return
3. Trying to chase a ring
So many big contracts went out at once, and all the restructures trying to stave off the inevitable, eventually hurt the team's ability to add top young talent. Missing too often early in the NFL draft – they didn't get enough from 2017 and 2019 especially – really hurts roster depth and foundational talent. That leads to a depleted roster and the salary cap troubles the team is working out of now.
There is, however, reason for optimism. The team is getting out of salary-cap trouble after this year. They have five picks in the top 82 this year. If they hit a home run and get real talent to develop and prepare for free-agent additions and more draft picks in 2023, this team could turn around in a hurry. This is the tough period, where the Falcons will push to win as much as possible while trying to fortify this roster for a long haul. Continually adding productive talent, regardless of position, will achieve that aim.
Christopher Duke from Covington, Ga.
According to all of the draft experts, this draft is loaded at WR, so wouldn't we be better off finding that WR in rounds 2 and beyond? I'm eager to see what we do in a couple of weeks, but I'm sure that I'm not the only one nervous about our pass-rush this far after free agency. Your thoughts?
Bair: I also think edge rusher's the way to go early, Christopher, though you can't control what happens above you. While you're right to say receiver has talent in later rounds, edge rusher does, too.
As I brought up earlier, do you want the fourth edge rusher or the first receiver? Just playing devil's advocate there. I think you want the best player you can find.
I agree that the pass rush is troubling, with it currently set to feature Lorenzo Carter and Ade Ogundeji. The Falcons certainly need more there, and that's nothing against those guys. The Falcons need more talent, more athleticism, more bodies.
There are several areas of concern, and some that won't be filled to satisfaction in one offseason. A proper roster will take some time to construct.
Call for questions
Let's refill the mailbag by submitting questions right here for inclusion in Monday's edition of Bair Mail
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.