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Bair Mail: On Paris Johnson Jr., helping Drake London, and re-signing Falcons free agents

Ashton tackles your questions in this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail. 

What's up, Falcons family? Glad to be back doing another mailbag. Can you believe that the NFL combine is next week? Time is moving quick, man. I'm excited though, because free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft is inching closer and closer. Thank God.


In this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail, we discuss Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr., adding depth to the wide receivers room to help Drake London, and re-signing Falcons free agents who will hit the market in a couple weeks.

Cool? cool. Now, on to your questions.

Bair Mail - Drake London

Benjamin Delatore from Cincinnati, OH.

I absolutely love these posts! Y'all do a great job with the whole media department. My question is this. Do you think we could draft another O-linemen? Not to replace McGary, of course, but to build a rushing attack no defense can stop. I'm on board with whoever we get but if I'm Terry Fontenot, I'm bringing Paris Johnson Jr. to Atlanta.

Edmunds: We appreciate you, Benjamin. Thanks! I see that you and Paris Johnson Jr. are both Cincinnati natives, which is dope. I do think it's possible to draft an offensive lineman given the fact that both Elijah Wilkinson and Kaleb McGary, who played integral roles on the offensive line in 2022, are set to be free agents this offseason. Even if McGary re-signs with the Falcons, I honestly think adding Johnson to this unit would provide even more depth, giving his production at Ohio State.

PFF's lead draft analyst Michael Renner said that Johnson "is the closest thing to a “lab-built” offensive tackle in this draft class. He has a high-end combination of size, strength and athleticism reminiscent of the elites at the next level." Those are all vital traits that you want to see in your offensive lineman. There's no question that Johnson would be a solid addition to the Falcons offense.

Terrell Hardy from Atlanta, Ga.

Outside of Drake London, pretty much every other receiver will hit the market this offseason. I thought we had a solid group in 2022 with London, Zaccheaus, Byrd and Hodge but I know not everyone will return. Who do you see returning in 2023 and which receivers in FA do you think would be a good fit for the Falcons to help London?

Edmunds: I agree. I thought the wide receivers unit was a solid corps, but I will say that more production was needed throughout the season. The Falcons had the second-lowest amount of receiving yards (2,927) in 2022 and no player eclipsed over 1,000 yards. And, if we're being honest, this unit lacked playmakers. Drake London was the only serious threat.

Quality receivers hitting the market this offseason like D.J. Chark and JuJu Smith-Schuster could potentially be options for the Falcons to target through free agency, in addition to the draft. I think Chark would compliment London well due to his speed, height and the athleticism he's displayed throughout his career. From the Falcons, Olamide Zaccheaus would be the player I bring back to this unit. He knows this offense as well as anybody, head coach Arthur Smith loves the guy, and I think he would serve well as a reliable second or third option. The Falcons certainly have the cap space to flesh out the receivers room, so it'll be interesting to see how they do it.

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Rashaan Evans #54 in action against the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field in North Englewood, MD on Sunday, November 27, 2022. (Photo by Mark Brown/Atlanta Falcons)

Dallas Williams from Bainbridge, Ga.

Hi! The Falcons had a lot of guys on one-year deals in 2022 mainly due to cap restraints. My question is, which guys that were on those contracts are you bringing back and why?

Edmunds: I remember answering this in our first Question of the Week, but I would bring back Rashaan Evans and MyCole Pruitt. Evans was a force at the middle linebacker position this past season. He finished with the most tackles (159, 86 solo) for the Falcons and the eighth-most tackles in the NFL in 2022. The linebackers unit was arguably the defense's strongest group, and that was mainly due to Evans' contributions and veteran leadership.

I also say Pruitt because he stepped up when Kyle Pitts suffered a knee injury and proved to be a reliable player. The man started the year on the practice squad before being elevated mid-season and finished with 16 receptions for 150 yards and four touchdowns, which tied with Drake London. Evans made a solid impression and Pruitt is Arthur Smith guy so it only makes sense to re-sign both players for the 2023 season.

Call for questions

I'm handing the mailbag back over to Scott for him to answer your questions on Friday. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next Bair Mail installment.

Join us as we take a look back at our favorite photos of our home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, during the 2022 Atlanta Falcons season.

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