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NBC sports has Falcons taking 'perfect long-term' quarterback in first round 

Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Garrett Wilson, and Drake London are latest players linked to the Falcons for the 2022 NFL Draft. 

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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 draft is just over three weeks away, and the national view on who the Falcons will select with the number 8 overall pick is as erratic as ever. There are two familiar faces from last week's group in this roundup, with two signal-callers now linked to Atlanta. Per an ESPN report, the Falcons will meet with Liberty quarterback Malik Willis next week. He is widely considered the quarterback with the highest upside in the draft and is an Atlanta native.


Here's what analysts are projecting for the Falcons in the first round.

Peter King, NBC Sports

  • Date: Apr. 4
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Analysis: "Lots to be concerned about here, because Willis needs a redshirt year under a smart QB coach like Arthur Smith, and he needs to be schooled in working his progressions most importantly. But Smith is a patient teacher, and he won't need to play this year with Marcus Mariota in the saddle for at least 2022. There's something about Willis' fit. He's a local kid from Roswell High (23 minutes from downtown Atlanta), teammates love him, very positive, and he has a big arm. Owner Arthur Blank could view him as a perfect long-term pilot of his franchise. I'm fascinated with the prospect of this."

Pete Prisco, CBSsports

  • Date: Apr. 5
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Analysis: "They could opt to pass on a quarterback here, but this is another team that badly needs to fill the position. Receiver and corner could also be in play here."

Peter Schrager,

  • Date: Apr. 7
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

Analysis: "When it's all said and done, Johnson could certainly go this high. Atlanta has a slew of needs and are in Best Player Available mode. I think Marcus Mariota, who spent years with Arthur Smith in Tennessee, is not just a "for now" QB. Hence, passing on Malik Willis and others."

Todd McShay, ESPN

  • Date: Apr. 5
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: WR Drake London, USC

Analysis: "The Falcons didn't do a whole lot to clean up a lackluster receiver room in free agency. They are currently relying on Olamide Zaccheaus and Damiere Byrd as their top two targets for new quarterback Marcus Mariota. We've only seen teams use top-10 picks on pass-catchers in back-to-back drafts three times since 1967 (Atlanta took tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 last April), but London is a perfect pick here. He is a former basketball player who can box out defensive backs and make tough, contested catches. London is returning from a right ankle fracture but should be ready to go for training camp.

As for the quarterback conundrum, Atlanta could address the future there with one of four picks on Day 2, wait until a more exciting signal-caller class in 2023 or execute some combination of both paths."

Chris Trapasso, CBSsports

  • Date: Mar. 31
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Analysis: "The Falcons jump on the opportunity to pick Thibodeaux here to add a young marquee talent to their defense at the beginning stages of their rebuild."

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today

  • Date: Mar. 31
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Analysis: "Atlanta is operating with a longer view than many other teams are, as made clear by GM Terry Fontenot's acknowledgement that the team is "taking it on the chin" this upcoming season after the cap hit from the Matt Ryan trade. Still, even with an array of issues on defense, it's easy to see how the Falcons would be drawn to Wilson, a dynamic target with a knack for acrobatic grabs and racking up yards after the catch. The Buckeyes standout would immediately elevate the league's worst receiving corps, assisting Marcus Mariota this year and a potential early draft pick at quarterback in 2023."

Cynthia Frelund,

  • Date: Mar. 31
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: Edge Travon Walker, Georgia

Analysis: "Walker is an interesting selection, considering the Falcons have a glaring need at wide receiver and could have their pick of the litter here. But snatching up Walker -- while continuing to hit WR in free agency -- adds more to the bottom line than the top receiver prospect would. My favorite Walker note comes from Computer Vision: In all alignments and situations he was used in last year at Georgia, his burst (first 3 yards traveled off the line) never eroded in speed. Walker blew up the NFL Scouting Combine, as well. And his upside is comparable to that of Thibodeaux, with a safer floor due in part to versatility.

Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN

  • Date: Mar. 30
  • Falcons pick: No. 8 overall
  • Selection: WR Drake London, USC

Analysis: "Atlanta is searching for its next franchise QB after trading Matt Ryan, but Marcus Mariota can hold the fort for a year. The 2023 class promises to have more options under center. In the meantime, the Falcons have a star in Kyle Pitts at tight end, but their wide receiver room is barren. The current group includes the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge and Frank Darby. London is a phenomenal talent and makes a lot of sense for the Falcons."


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