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Falcons mock NFL draft roundup: CBs Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley, Trent McDuffie all linked to Falcons at No. 8

CBS has Falcons taking quarterback with first round pick


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.

The NFL Scouting Combine always represents a pivot point in how draft prospects are perceived in the general public and through the media. Teams have had inside access for some time, with months and sometimes years of work poured into player evaluations.


There will be risers and others who tumble because of the workouts. We're not there just yet. We've got a round of mocks coming before the combine's conclusion, including one from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Let's see who he slotted to the Falcons, and look at a few more from the last week.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

  • Date: March 1
  • Falcons pick: No. 8
  • Selection: Ahmad "Sauce" Garnder

Analysis: I'm going to stick with the same position for the Falcons at No. 8 but switch the prospect. Gardner is rising since the second half of the season and has a great shot at being the top corner in April's draft. He allowed just eight catches for 60 yards in 13 games.

Why Gardner over Derek Stingley Jr.? NFL scouts just haven't seen Stingley playing to his 2019 level over the past two seasons. He has a high ceiling, but he played in just three games in 2021 and was so-so in 2020. Stingley won't work out at the combine, but he will have a chance to rise again if he puts up excellent testing numbers at his pro day. Gardner is a safer prospect at this point. This also is a spot to watch for an edge rusher, and the Falcons have an extra second-round pick because of the Julio Jones trade with Tennessee.

Bucky Brooks,

  • Date: March 1
  • Falcons pick: No. 8
  • Selection: CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner

Analysis:The long, rangy cover corner could form an impressive lockdown combination with A.J. Terrell on the island.

Daniel Jeremiah,

  • Date: Feb. 22
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

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: March 1
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: QB Malik Willis

Analysis: "We've been upfront about Willis. We have a second-round grade on him based on his body of work in college, but that doesn't mean teams looking for a quarterback won't take one a round or so before they should. In Atlanta, it's best-case scenario for Willis because he'll spend the year sitting behind Matt Ryan, and in 2023, Arthur Smith will have his next franchise QB, one who does just about everything you want in a modern-day signal caller."

Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus

  • Date: Feb.28
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Analysis: "Atlanta has holes all over its defense, but McDuffie can slot in to pair with 2020 first-rounder A.J. Terrell to form one of the best young duos in the league. McDuffie flies around the field with excellent skills to play both man or zone coverage and has three years of 80-plus PFF grades."

Vinnie Iver, Sporting News

  • Date: Feb.15
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Analysis: "The Falcons have found a gem at cornerback in A.J. Terrell but could use another dynamic playmaker for the back end of Dean Pees' 3-4 pressure defense. They also will be ready to land Hamilton, but either way they should be ecstatic to upgrade their secondary with a can't-miss well-rounded player."

  • Falcons pick: No. 43 overall
  • Selection: DT Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

Analysis: The Falcons need some more backfield disruption next to Grady Jarrett and this would be a good follow-up pick for Pees to make the front stronger and nastier inside. Winfrey rose up boards during the Senior Bowl to settle as a high second-rounder.

  • Falcons pick: No. 58 overall
  • Selection: WR George Pickens, Georgia

Analysis: The Falcons already got Stingley at corner and Winfrey for defensive tackle in this draft, so it's time they use the pick from Julio Jones trade on some offensive help for Arthur Smith. The team makes it a three-Dawg run by landing Pickens, who can be a steal if he can shake off injuries because he's a size-speed-physicality prospect in the Jones' vein.

Matt Ryan continued to build up his legacy with his 14th season, and we were there for every highlight along the way.


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

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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