Well, we made it through the 2022 NFL Draft with minimal bumps and bruises. Actually, now that I think about it, if you were watching this year's draft and came away with bumps and bruises, I'd be curious to know exactly why, especially if you're a Falcons fan (which I am assuming you are since you are reading this). Truly this draft class shouldn't make you that upset, in my opinion. But I digress…
To go along with our Falcons Final Whistle podcast with special guest Steve Wyche, Scott, Kris and I decided to accompany it with a Question of the Week installment. That should go without saying since I hope you've become accustomed to this process by this point of the offseason.
Next week, we'll dive into the veteran departures that have graced our headlines in the days following the draft. But for now, we're going to take a look back at the 2022 NFL Draft, our favorite picks, surprises and overall thoughts of the organization's decisions.
Alright y'all. Big picture. What did you think about this draft class?
Tori: Thanks, me. Funny I should ask myself this question considering I wrote a whole column about my overall thoughts and observations from the final day of the draft. Did I ask this question on purpose just so I could point you - the reader - to a whole digest of my thoughts, feelings and ramblings? Why yes. Yes I did.
Kris: I felt good about this draft class after the final two days. With Jermaine Johnson on the board at eight, I wondered if taking a receiver there was the best option in the first round. After the Falcons moves on day two, doubling down on edge rusher, grabbing a quarterback, versatile linebacker, left guard, running back, and tight end on day 3, I think this is a draft class that Falcons fans should feel good about heading into next season.
Scott: I dig it. I didn't love the Drake London pick in the moment, but I've really warmed up to it thinking about how well he'll fit in this offense. I think it's well-rounded, with some assets that could turn into real playmakers at this level. Love that they went after two edge rushers. I feel confident in what Arnold Ebiketie can be, and I'm interested to see what Deangelo Malone can do at the NFL level.
Were there any surprises for you as you look back on what you thought this draft would be for the Falcons vs. what it ended up being?
Tori: I said this on the podcast but I think it bears repeating here in written form, too. I thought the Falcons were going to attack the draft by working from the inside out. What I mean by that is I thought Atlanta would prioritize taking players on the line of scrimmage (guards, offensive and defensive tackles, edge rushers) first, and then work their way to skill players in the later rounds of the draft. Even with the Falcons having completed a bit of work to bring in linemen during free agency, I still thought there would be a chance we saw the Falcons make a run on linemen in the first two days of the draft. I guess I wouldn't say that I was all-out surprised that they didn't, more that I was intrigued by their strategy. After all, they still got two edge rushers, and signed Grady Jarrett to an extension this week. I'm quite alright with that to be sure.
Kris: I spoiled my answer before, but I always thought that if Jermaine Johnson or any of the top four edge rushers were available at eight, the Falcons would take one. So I was surprised there, but my biggest surprise was that the Falcons got a quarterback. I did not think they would get a quarterback in this draft, but I also did not believe that just one quarterback would go before the Falcons pick in the third round. The Falcons took the second quarterback off the board in Ridder in the third round, a move that if someone told me would have happened the day before the draft, I would have thought no way in a million years would happen.
Scott: I thought the Falcons should draft multiple edge rushers, multiple receivers and zero quarterbacks. Those last two things didn't pan, but I'm okay with that. They could've snagged a receiver at Nos. 58 or 74, but went linebacker and signal caller instead. That didn't bother me because of the talent they acquired at those spots. Getting Desmond Ridder at No. 74 is a good spot. If he turns into a true franchise quarterback, it might be one of the greatest steals in recent memory. If not, it's not a major loss. Andersen is an ATH-LETE. The Falcons stuck with their board and, while they went for present and future need – I didn't see any reaches in the class. That's a plus for a team that's light in so many areas
Final question: Who's your favorite pick? And why?
Tori: My heart is with the defense, always. So, it would have been a safe bet for you to make to think I would choose a defender as my favorite player in this draft class. My pick is Arnold Ebiketie, and I choose him based on principle. If I wrote it one time in the last four months, I wrote it 50 times: The Falcons had to take an edge rusher and they had to do so early. Of course, I would have loved to see one of the top three edge rushers fall to No. 8, but when that didn't happen I understood waiting for the second round to fill - arguably - your most significant need with the best edge rusher left on the board at that time. I think it shows how much the Falcons valued Ebiketie by trading up to get him.
I don't think it's up to Ebiketie to come in and change the Falcons pass rush immediately and in extreme fashion. (C'mon, that's not realistic). However, I do think that in a process that will span one, two or even three years, I think Ebiketie is a good start.
Kris: I really like the Desmond Ridder pick at 74. It is a low-risk, high-reward pick to me. There is a lot to like about Ridder's game. He can make all the throws and is a proven winner. Many of the questions around him come about his consistency. Ridder comes into a situation where he can learn from a quarterback with a similar playstyle in Marcus Mariota, who should help his transition to the league. And the great part about this pick is that it does not necessarily mean the Falcons are out on quarterback in 2023, like with a first-round pick.
Scott: I like running backs who can run around you but prefer to run through you. BYU alum Tyler Allgeier is one of those guys. I saw a stat where the vast majority of his yards came after contact, something the Falcons need and Arthur Smith prefers in his running backs. Allgeier's a tackle breaker through and through, who should help make last year's short-yardage struggles a thing of the past. I know he's just a fifth-round pick, but I'm confident he'll be an impact player at this level, someone who will contribute as a feature player or part of a productive rotation.
There were several good fits and intriguing talents to choose from in this class, but I'm going with the big back from Brigham Young.
Join us as we review the Atlanta Falcons' full draft class for 2022.