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CBS Sports has Falcons selecting game-changing defensive end in first round

Jermaine Johnson, Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Derek Stingley Jr., and David Ojabo linked to the Falcons for the 2022 NFL Draft. 


Editor's Note: We'll track prospects the Falcons are projected to take during the 2022 NFL Draft, especially the No. 8 overall selection. You can see predicted picks from respected sources all in one spot, on this Falcons Mock Draft roundup, which will be published every Wednesday through the NFL Draft.

Mock drafts will continue to shift as the offseason moves closer to the NFL draft. The Senior bowl shifted boards as scouts got verified measurements from some of the top college seniors and got to interview them one-on-one. Things will move significantly again with the NFL Combine, where players will showcase their speed with 40-yard dash times, strength with the bench press, and other skills in Indianapolis from March 1 to March 7.


Projections have adjusted since last week, with a new edge rusher thrown into the group. Here's who analysts have the Falcons taking.

Daniel Jeremiah,

  • Date: Feb. 22
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Analysis: "Thibodeaux is a true wild card in this draft. I could see him going anywhere from No. 2 overall to outside of the top 10. Atlanta has a HUGE need for pass-rush help." 

Ryan Wilson, CBSsports

  • Date: Feb.22
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: Edge David Ojabo, Michigan

Analysis: "Dante Fowler led the team with 4.5 sacks in 2021. Last week, the Falcons released him, which means that two off-ball linebackers -- Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun -- are now the sack leaders with ... two apiece. Put another way: Atlanta desperately needs to upgrade its pass rushers, especially off the edge, and that's where Michigan's David Ojabo comes in. Ojabo isn't a finished product, and that's what makes him so exciting. He was incredibly disruptive last season and he's only going to get better at the next level."

Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus

  • Date: Feb. 21
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Analysis: "Safety isn't a premium position, and it is relatively low on the positional value chart because of it, but Kyle Hamilton is different. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the Notre Dame star legitimately has all of the sideline-to-sideline range, size and ball skills to be a game-changer, regardless of scheme or role at the next level."

Nick Baumgardner, The Athletic

  • Date: Feb. 22
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: Edge Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

Analysis: "Johnson was downright awesome at the Senior Bowl and will carry an awful lot of buzz into the combine. The entire edge conversation after Hutchinson and Ojabo gets interesting. Johnson can make it more interesting with a big week.

Offense — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State: It's not out of the realm of possibility for the Falcons to find a terrific tackle at No. 8."

Kevin Hanson, Sports Illustrated

  • Date: Feb. 17
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Analysis: "Following his 2019 true freshman season, Stingley seemed destined to be the CB1 lock in this draft class, but he has played only 10 games since then and not at the same elite level. One of the youngest prospects in the draft (he turns 21 in June), the former five-star recruit has prototypical size and length, and elite athleticism and ball skills. If he reaches his potential at the next level, the duo of A.J. Terrell and Stingley will make it extremely difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

Kyle Pitts broke records during his rookie year, so we're breaking out our favorite photos.

Todd McShay, ESPN

  • Date: Feb.16
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: WR Drake London, USC

Analysis: "A team has used top-10 picks on pass-catchers in back-to-back drafts three times since 1967, so this might seem odd for a roster that just went 7-10. But the offense could lose five of the eight players who had at least 70 receiving yards last season to free agency, and it's possible the Falcons additionally look to trade Calvin Ridley, who played in five games last year while taking time off to focus on his mental health. London, meanwhile, was on his way to a massive campaign for USC before breaking his right ankle in October. He's a 6-foot-5 target who has the body control and contact balance to make plays over the middle, the speed to produce vertically and the instincts to create against different defensive looks.

"The Falcons passed on a strong QB class at No. 4 last April to draft tight end Kyle Pitts, but it might decide to go that route now. Matt Ryan is their guy for 2022, but if they fall in love with one of the signal-callers, it's a good spot to draft an heir to sit and learn behind Ryan. Perhaps Pitt's Kenny Pickett could fit."

  • Date: Feb.15
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: LB David Ojabo, Michigan

Analysis: "Ojabo is just scratching the surface of his potential as a pass rusher, but he's not so raw that he can't make an impact as a rookie."

Falcons pick: No. 43 overall

  • Selection: WR Justyn Ross, Clemson

Falcons Pick: No. 58 overall

  • Selection: QB Carson Strong, Nevada

Falcons Pick: No. 74 overall

  • Selection: RB Jerome Ford, Cincinatti

Nate Davis, USA TODAY

  • Date: Feb.15
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: LB David Ojabo, Michigan

Analysis: "A native of Nigeria who grew up in Scotland, he had one tackle as a sophomore in 2020, so bit of an understatement to deem Ojabo raw. But what a breakout during his junior year, when the 6-5, 250-pounder erupted for 11 sacks – though it certainly didn't hurt playing opposite Hutchinson. Atlanta, which hasn't had a player register even five sacks in the past two seasons, desperately needs a player who can bring the heat. The Falcons' 18 sacks in 2021 were 11 fewer than the next-worst team. And given they're in a bit of a rebuild situation, Ojabo should have a grace period to refine his skills."

Bucky Brooks,

  • Date: Jan. 25
  • Falcons pick: No. 8
  • Selection: CB Derek Stingley, LSU

Analysis: "Despite a pair of subpar seasons to finish his career at LSU, Stingley is a bona fide five-star talent with outstanding tools and playmaking ability."

Mel Kiper, ESPN

  • Date: Jan. 19
  • Falcons pick: No. 8
  • Selection: Derek Stingley, LSU

Analysis: "This was one of the toughest calls of the entire mock. I thought hard about a quarterback. My buddy Chris Mortensen, though, says the Falcons are committed to Matt Ryan for 2022, which means this might be too high to take a QB who's not going to play right away. This is not a class full of surefire starting QBs. If David Ojabo was still on the board, I probably would have gone with him because the Falcons finished last in the league in sacks (18) this season. But there's a little bit of a drop-off in the edge-rush tiers, and my next guy doesn't have a top-10 grade.

"So how about a cornerback to play on the other side of rising star A.J. Terrell? Stingley looked like a potential No. 1 pick when he was dominating as a true freshman on LSU's national title team in 2019, but he was inconsistent in 2020 and then played just three games this season because of a foot injury. A team is going to have to take a little bit of a leap of faith with Stingley because he hasn't played great for two seasons. The draft is all about upside, though, and he has the potential to be a superstar. I'm hoping he can work out at the combine to ease some concerns.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

  • Date: Jan. 19
  • Falcons pick: No.8
  • Selection: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan

Analysis: "Predictably, the Falcons finished dead-last in the NFL in sacks this season as they sorely lack the edge rush talent to keep offenses off-balance. Still young in football years, Ojabo is still a work in progress, but he has the talent level right now to stress blockers.

Polling several NFL personnel people for this mock, the feedback on Ojabo was he won't be a top-10 pick because of his struggles vs. the run and his relative inexperience. But I'm betting on his ceiling at a premium position to bump him up in this draft class."

Falcons pick: No. 43

Selection: QB Malik Willis, Liberty


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