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NFL Mock Draft 1.0: A trade with Patriots puts Falcons in position to draft top quarterback

Mock draft season is in full swing. So, we had to get in on the action, too, with having the Falcons pull an aggressive move into the top-three picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions regarding players and/or potential future players in the article below are those of the editorial staff and are not of the Atlanta Falcons' football personnel unless noted in a direct quote.

Mock draft season is in full swing. So, we had to get in on the action, too.

For the next eight weeks leading up to the start of the 2024 NFL Draft at the end of April, we will have a full first-round mock draft running every Wednesday morning. Yes, there will be eight of them. You know what that means? I'm (probably) going to draft eight different options for the Falcons in the first round. Please don't come at me with vitriol if I don't make the move you want until Mock Draft 5.0. Give it time. Chances are I will try it out at some point.

Also, while I'm at it: Maybe don't take mock drafts so seriously, either. It's supposed to be fun and speculative. Not fact and action. Let's just get the thought-provoking juices flowing, OK? OK! Great. Glad we're all on the same page.

In this very first mock draft, the Falcons make a move upward to have a chance at one of the top-three quarterbacks in this year's class.

Look, I'll be honest with you: I don't know how many times I'll be able to choose a quarterback in this mock draft series. The start of the new league year begins next Wednesday. That's a week away.

At this time next week, it's entirely possible the Falcons acquire 2024's QB1 via free agency or a trade. If they do, that drastically changes the immediate need under center. Therefore, let's get a quarterback on the mock draft board quickly.

Furthermore, if there's one thing I learned at the NFL Combine this year, it's that national draft analysts believe after the "big three" quarterback names in this draft class, there's a clear separation in upside in the next chunk of potential picks. So, if the Falcons want to be in play to get one of the top names? Chances are they have to move up. Fortunately for them, I let them.

Let's dive into this first (of many) mock drafts.

16x9 (44)
Caleb Williams

via Carolina Panthers

Biggest needs (via IOL, WR, TE

Analysis: Y'all already know. Take it to the bank.

Jayden Daniels

Biggest needs (via QB, EDGE, WR

Analysis: This is the pick the Falcons would (hypothetically) be keeping their closest eye on in this scenario, because this is the pick that could have major ramifications to their pick. With the clock winding down, the Commanders find themselves choosing between Daniels and Drake Maye. In perhaps a surprise twist, they call Daniels' name.

Drake Maye

via New England Patriots (Falcons give up the No. 8 and No. 43 overall picks, plus a future first-round pick)

Biggest Needs (via QB, WR, EDGE

Analysis: Though there are a few draft analysts who have J.J. McCarthy ahead of Maye on their quarterback class rankings, that doesn't mean there's a guarantee he falls to No. 8.

The Falcons were the first team Maye spoke to at the NFL Combine last week in a formal interview setting. Maye said to the media later that he was impressed with the Falcons organization and that it was an easy conversation seeing as there was already a semi-connection in place with Falcons quarterback coach T.J. Yates being a North Carolina alum. Though we don't know the exact details of a Zac Robinson offensive scheme in Atlanta just yet, his past dealings with the Rams organization could show a potential fit with Maye's skill set.

Marvin Harrison, Jr.
WR | Ohio State

Biggest needs (via WR, DT, IOL

Analysis: For much of this first mock draft, I am leaning heavily into the key needs of each team, and the Cardinals are wide-receiver hungry. Taking the best available receiver on the board feels like an easy choice for decision-makers in Arizona.

Terrion Arnold
CB | Alabama

Biggest needs (via CB, RB, DT

Analysis: Things are getting interesting. A cornerback as a top-five pick?! This doesn't happen very often, but who's to say it wouldn't work?

Malik Nabers

Biggest needs (via DT, RB, IOL

Analysis: Do the Giants need a wide receiver? Debatable, but if Nabers is there for them, it could be difficult to pass up.

Joe Alt
OT | Notre Dame

Biggest needs (via OT, CB, WR

Analysis: The Titans couldn't be happier to see arguably the best tackle in the class fall to them at No. 7 overall. They loved seeing those receivers come off the board first in this hypothetical situation.

Olu Fashanu
OT | Penn State

Biggest needs (via QB, TE, OT

Analysis: The Patriots knew they would still have a shot at a much-needed offensive tackle at No. 8 overall. And lookie there, they got one.

They also have another second-round pick from the Falcons they could use on a tight end, or if a quarterback falls to the bottom of the first round, maybe they use that extra pick to get back into the first round.

Rome Odunze
WR | Washington

Biggest needs (via IOL, WR, TE

Analysis: The Bears better love me for giving them Williams and Odunze. It's what 2024 rookie QB-WR pairing dreams are made of. *Cue Lizzie McGuire*

JC Latham
OT | Alabama

Biggest needs (via OT, WR, S

Analysis: The Jets were probably sweating a little bit watching a couple tackles come off the board, but with the Bears prioritizing Odunze, they knew they'd have chance with Latham, who could be an immediate impact player on that New York offensive line.

Dallas Turner
EDGE | Alabama

Biggest needs (via QB, EDGE, IOL

Analysis: Alabama guys are flying off the board at this point, but perhaps no one thought Turner would fall out of the top 10. However, as much as quarterback, the Vikings could use a dominant pass rusher, too, so they're good with the development.

J.J. McCarthy
QB | Michigan

Biggest needs (via QB, DT, TE

Analysis: You'd think the Broncos would be a little hesitant pulling the quarterback trigger in the draft. But hey, they're having to finish paying out Russell Wilson's contract. They don't necessarily have a lot of wiggle room to sign a big-time veteran at quarterback. So, a young gunslinger it is.

Taliese Fuaga
OT | Oregon State

Biggest needs (via QB, IOL, OT

Analysis: When McCarthy came off the board, it left no doubt where the Raiders were going. Yep, straight to the line of scrimmage. And there are few better tackles left on the board than Fuaga.

Jared Verse
EDGE | Florida State

Biggest needs (via EDGE, WR, OT

Analysis: Verse is someone whose draft stock continues to rise. It wouldn't be surprising if the Saints are the ones to capitalize on this in the middle of the draft, especially knowing their need for better presence off the edge.

Byron Murphy II
DT | Texas

Biggest needs (via DT, WR, CB

Analysis: Since the top of the draft is so top-heavy toward the offensive side of the ball, defensive tackles haven't been in the conversation much so far. Enter Murphy to the Colts. From here on out, perhaps teams start itching to bulk up their defensive interior. Murphy was but the first domino to fall.

Amarius Mims
OT | Georgia

Biggest needs (via QB, LB, IOL

Analysis: OK. I am sorry, but I lied to you about the potential that defensive linemen could start flying off the board. The top of this class at offensive line is just too darn good. And boy, do the Seahawks need some help on offensive line. They hope that help comes in the form of all 340 pounds of Mims.

Troy Fautanu
OG | Washington

Biggest needs (via EDGE, OG, WR

Analysis: The Jaguars need a guard. They get a guard. Come on down, Fautanu, you're one of the best interior guys this class has to offer.

Brian Thomas, Jr.

Biggest needs (via WR, OT, DT

Analysis: Here me out. LSU skill players haven't... not... worked out for the Bengals in recent years. (Yes, I know that's a double negative). So, why not give 'em another?

Quinyon Mitchell
CB | Toledo

Biggest needs (via CB, EDGE, S

Analysis: When Arnold came off the board so early, I am sure the Rams thought it would only be a matter of time before Mitchell got snatched. Fortunately for them, I know how much they'd like a cornerback. So, here you go, Rams. Thanks for Raheem Morris.

Cooper DeJean
CB | Iowa

Biggest needs (via CB, OT, IOL

Analysis: We've got back-to-back corners coming off the board people! Watch out!

Tyler Guyton
OT | Oklahoma

Biggest needs (via IOL, S, WR

Analysis: OK, so not an interior lineman, got it. But Guyton is probably the best available offensive lineman left on the board. I tend to live by the notion you put your best five linemen on the field. Not the best guard or tackle. The best lineman. The argument is there that at pick No. 21, that's Guyton.

Keon Coleman
WR | Florida State

Biggest needs (via RB, WR, CB

Analysis: In this scenario, the Eagles believe like they're more than able to obtain a capable running back in the second or third round. They know they can't wait for someone like Coleman, though.

Brock Bowers
TE | Georgia

via Cleveland Browns

Biggest needs (via OT, DT, CB

Analysis: The truth is, the Texans probably have a ton of needs before we ever even see tight end on the list. However, Bowers is a game-changer and has been at years with Georgia. C'mon, can't you just see a C.J. Stroud pairing with this guy? Could be fuuuuun.

Jackson Powers-Johnson
C | Oregon

Biggest needs (via OT, RB, IOL

Analysis: The Cowboys' starting center for the last three seasons is expected to hit the open market as a free agent next week. Fortunately for Dallas, teams ahead of them in this year's draft were keen on grabbing offensive tackles. Though, the Cowboys could use one, taking the best center in the class is a more than fine consolation prize.

Nate Wiggins
CB | Clemson

Biggest needs (via S, OT, CB

Analysis: Wiggins is a player who has long looked up to fellow Westlake High School grad and Clemson alum A.J. Terrell. If Wiggins can provide the Packers what Terrell has provided the Falcons on a rookie contract, the corner position could be locked down in Green Bay for years to come.

Michael Penix, Jr.
QB | Washington

Biggest needs (via QB, WR, IOL

Analysis: Maybe the Bucs sign Mayfield back for another couple years. Who's to say Penix wouldn't be a fine backup for the time being as he develops?

Jer'Zhan Newton
DT | Illinois

via Houston Texans

Biggest needs (via WR, DT, IOL

Analysis: Newton is one of those players who is viewed by some as right on the line of first- and second-round valuation. If you're the Cardinals, in need of some help in the interior, waiting into the second round for a shot at a top tackle doesn't seem like the decision with the best odds. Taking Newton at No. 27 is probably the much safer bet.

Laiatu Latu

Biggest needs (via S, DT, EDGE

Analysis: There hasn't been as much action in the edge rusher category to this point, but Buffalo is a team that wouldn't mind grabbing a safety or defensive tackle later on to ensure they get a talent like Latu in the first round.

Chop Robinson
EDGE | Penn State

Biggest needs (via CB, OG, EDGE

Analysis: Another pick coming in for the edge rushers. Now we're rolling. Having some young talent coming off the edge to compliment Aiden Hutchinson doesn't sound like a bad idea, especially someone like Robinson, who could maybe pull a few extra eyes his way.

Jordan Morgan
G | Arizona

Biggest needs (via DT, OG, WR

Analysis: Again, the depth of this offensive line class comes back around. This is a dream scenario for offensive line coaches everywhere: So many first-rounders joining the league's line of scrimmage. Morgan is a good get, too, because some evaluators have him at guard, others at tackle. There's some versatility in this pick for the Ravens if they so choose.

Kool-Aid McKinstry
CB | Alabama

Biggest needs (via CB, EDGE, OT

Analysis: It was either I give the 49ers McKinstry or edge rusher Darius Robinson. I really wanted to write out Kool-Aid, though.

Ladd McConkey
WR | Georgia

Biggest needs (via DT, WR, OT

Analysis: "Suuuure. Let's just keep giving Patrick Mahomes offensive weapons. Great idea, Tori." — You reading this pick, probably

Worked out pretty well when Mahomes threw to a Georgia guy in the Super Bowl this year. (Here's looking at you, MeCole Hardman).

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