FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons came into the 2022 NFL Draft needing a real presence off the edge. After taking wide receiver Drake London with the No. 8 overall pick on Thursday night, it seemed like a no-brainer that Atlanta would go after a pass rusher very early in the second round on Friday evening. They did just that, trading up to grab the guy they wanted.
As Friday's second round got underway, the Falcons quickly made a trade to get into position to draft Arnold Ebiketie at No. 38. Atlanta traded with the Giants, giving New York its No. 43 and 114 overall pick.
Ebiketie comes to the Falcons from Penn State, where he accumulated 62 tackles (17 for a loss) with 9.5 sacks. He will fill a very obvious hole on the Falcons defense immediately, with new signing Lorenzo Carter and returner Ade Ogundeji as other presumptive feature players at the position. The Falcons parted ways with Dante Fowler, Steven Means and Brandon Copeland this offseason after having the the league's worst pass rush in terms of bringing down the quarterback.
The Falcons had just 18 sacks last season. That was 11 behind the Eagles, who were the next closest team in sack production.
Though the Falcons didn't use a first-round pick to begin rebuilding the edge rusher problem, moving up in the second round shows how much value the organization is putting on this position group. It also shows how much they value the 6-foot-2, 250 pound edge rusher out of Penn State.
Running a 4.65 as his 40-time, scouts across the league noticed Ebiketie's get-off first and foremost. He's also smart about using his leverage to his advantage, both in close-contact situations with a lineman and away from the line of scrimmage, too. Having put on 50 pounds since 2017, there is a question about how much more weight Ebiketie could put on, but that may not be an issue long-term if his agility and energy stays at the level he has shown over the last year.
Even though Ebiketie is a second-round pick, the expectation should be to see him very active on Sundays in the fall, if not a full-blown starter. He's only started 18 games in college. If he develops quickly for the Falcons (and he'll likely need to) Ebiketie could easily come close to that many starts in his rookie year. Time will tell one, but Dean Pees needs edge rushers. The Falcons got him a talented one.
Atlanta Falcons have drafted Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie in the second round.