Hope everyone enjoyed the Super Bowl and the parties associated with it. Hope everyone enjoyed this NFL season, which contained tons of entertainment value from start to finish.
That included the Falcons, who won several close games on the way to seven total victories. I agree with owner Arthur Blank when he said the arrows are all pointing up for this franchise, though there's work to be done to reach and maintain a period of success.
- Behind the scenes with Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith and Falcons scouts at 2022 Senior Bowl
- What you need to know about Falcons strategy to draft best player available
- Question of the week: What do the Falcons do with Matt Ryan?; Impact of Tom Brady, Sean Payton departures; Will the Falcons re-sign Cordarrelle Patterson?
- Arthur Blank on: Calvin Ridley; Matt Ryan; Cordarrelle Patterson; Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot
Plain and simple: The Falcons need more talent, fewer salary-cap headaches.
That's where our focus lies in Monday's Bair Mail, where we'll continue to discuss ways to improve the Falcons situation. There are also a few reactions to my first mock draft, where I took LSU’s Derek Stingley. That turned out to be a surprisingly polarizing pick.
Check out my latest mock – they come so frequently that they're situational exercises more than bold predictions – where Michigan’s David Ojabo goes to the Falcons at No. 8.
Do me a solid and do that after you check out the answers to this mailbag.
Damion McCathy from Middletown
Personally, I think that Derek Stingley would be the favorite to be drafted at 8, but I'm a ND fan, so if Kyle Hamilton falls, I hope my favorite NFL team picks up a player on my favorite college team. We would be getting the best player in the draft for the 2nd straight year. Kyle Hamilton is the UNICORN of this draft
Bair: You've got to be more specific with where you're from Damion. Turns out there are quite a few Middletowns. As a Notre Dame fan, maybe you're in Ohio? Who knows? Ha. I agree that Kyle Hamilton would be a great addition to the Falcons defense, but I can't figure a way where he makes it No. 8.
He's too good to fall that far. Even though he doesn't play a truly premium position, that many teams won't pass on him. I even have a tough time with Hamilton getting past the Jets at No. 4. If he is around, though, I'd select him quick. Unless Kayvon Thibodeaux is also there. Then they've got a tough decision to make. Thought I can't see ANY way both guys are available at No. 8.
Craig Green from Angier, N.C.
Hey Scott. I saw a tweet from Adam Schefter on Sunday suggesting that Green Bay may commit to Aaron Rodgers for the foreseeable future. With respect to the Falcons' succession plan, what sense would it make (or not make) to inquire about acquiring Jordan Love as Matt Ryan's heir apparent? I believe Ryan has at least two good years left in him and should be our QB for at least 2022, but this would be a good option to explore on draft day if the front office decides to move Matt after this upcoming season.
Bair: I'm sure that both Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot evaluated Jordan Love during his pre-draft process, so they have an opinion of him and probably have contacts to check on his progress while at Green Bay. They'd certainly have to trade a valuable asset to get Love, and that's not ideal. I think he’s a possible option, but that depends on what Smith and Fontenot think about him. That's a variable we can't account for to say how much of an option Love is for this group.
Jeff Brown at Stockbridge, Ga.
Why would the Falcons draft a defensive back when they have no pass rush? I've been a fan of this team since 1969 and one thing rings true. Your defense is better when there's a strong pass rush, something the Falcons haven't had since Dwight Freeney left the team. All you have to do is look back at the '70's teams that lead the league in pass defense, with a big reason for that being Claude Humphrey and John Zook. The pass rush has to be addressed.
Bair: The Falcons have said they're going best player available, and Tori McElhaney does a great job explaining how most every position is also a need. Also, if there's an early run on edge rushers, do you want the third or fourth edge rusher or the best cornerback of this class?
You're right that the Falcons desperately need help off the edge, but the No. 8 overall pick isn't the only place to address that issue. There are two options in the second round to select from a deep class at the position. They're also going to look to free agency, as well, so they can stockpile edge rushers in hopes of improving a pass rush that wasn't good enough in 2021.
Matt Ryan continued to build up his legacy with his 14th season, and we were there for every highlight along the way.
Christopher Duke from Oceanside, Calif.
I understand the debate regarding best player available vs drafting for/at a position of need, however, I don't see a situation in which we go offense with that eighth pick. Also, K. Thibodeaux keeps falling in mock drafts. Do you think he'll be there at #8 for us? Lastly, any chance we exercise patience at the QB position and either a) wait for the '23 NFL Draft (which supposedly should be loaded with QB's), or b) keep an eye out on the situation concerning K. Murray and the Cardinals?
Bair: Have I ever mentioned, Christopher, that I'm from San Diego. Surfed Oceanside Pier a few times in my day, as well. That's a good town you're in. Enjoy that 72 and partly cloudy for me, will you?
Now on you your questions. You're right that receiver is often mocked to the Falcons at No. 8. Don't forget the Calvin Ridley storyline is a national conversation, which is probably driving that logic. I agree that defense would be preferable in that spot. I also believe that quarterback should be a 2023 thing, though I always offer the caveat that, if you fall in love with one, you move mountains to get him.
I don't get the Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 8 thing, either. If he falls, that'd be an easy a pick as the Falcons could make.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Okay Bair, after much deliberation I think we should trade down a few spots and pick Jermaine Johnson II. His stock has risen since the Senior Bowl, but most projections still have him as mid to late first rounder. Given other teams needs for a QB, and O-Line help I'm sure someone will panic and make a desperate trade. We could certainly use the extra draft capital to shore up our trenches and potentially still get a quality CB. Your thoughts and opinions could potentially sway me leading into the draft.
Bair: I think a trade down is a good option, and that Johnson's a darn good player who could be available in the middle of the first round. The key thing, though, is to wait until draft day and see how the board falls. If Thibodeaux or someone you covet is available at No. 8, take him. If the first seven picks don't go your way, have a price and some packages to go down and get more quantity while still landing a quality player.
Call for questions
We've got more mailbags scheduled for this week, even though I'm taking a brief vacation. So submit your questions right here for Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim to answer in the next few mailbags.
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.