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Players the Falcons could target on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft

Atlanta has their No. 8 overall pick in Michael Penix Jr., now the focus shifts to other positions, particularly those of need. 

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

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons have their quarterback of the future, taking Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It's a move made even with Kirk Cousins under contract for four years. However, it's a move the Falcons made that -- they hope -- secures their future beyond the Cousins' years in Atlanta.

And with that, the quarterback position is set, likely for many years to come but time will tell on that front. In the meantime, the Falcons have six more rounds and seven more picks slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET Friday.

With the Falcons still in need of some edge rushers, cornerbacks and maybe even receivers, here's a look at a few players the Falcons could target on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

No. 43 overall, second round

CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

DeJean and McKinstry were borderline first-round picks in many analyst's mock drafts over the last few months. However, the run on quarterbacks in the first round pushed them out and into the second round. The Falcons have been searching for a running mate for A.J. Terrell since he was drafted in 2020. Could they find someone at No. 43 overall? Could it be McKinstry or DeJean? If the Falcons like them enough and they're worried they won't make it to No. 43, don't be surprised if the Falcons package some picks together (like they did with Matthew Bergeron in 2023) to move up higher in the second round to land a starting-caliber cornerback.


WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

DT Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois

If the class' second-best interior defensive lineman is staring you in the face at No. 43, how do you let him pass you by? That may be a question the Falcons ask themselves Friday night according to how the picks in front of them fall. Newton's accolades speak for themself: He's the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American. In the last two seasons, he's accumulated 13 of his 17.5 career sacks along with 22.5 of his 28 career tackles for a loss. He's someone who took obvious steps in maturity and production in every year he's been active. That is something the Falcons value. And something the Penix pick also shows us the Falcons value? A succession plan. No one may want to talk about it, but could this pick help someone like Grady Jarrett stay fresh in the long run while the organization contemplates a day when they don't have Jarrett? It's worth thinking about.

EDGE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama

FILE -  Illinois defensive lineman Jer'Zhan Newton rushes the quarterback during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Nos. 74 and 79 overall, third round

DT Braden Fiske, Florida State

DT Maason Smith, LSU

EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington

Make no mistake about it: The Falcons need more of a presence off the edge. For many, the assumption would be that the Falcons would use a Day 1 pick on an edge rusher. But alas, here we are in the third round throwing names against the dartboard, hoping one sticks. Despite being a middle-of-the-pack kind of guy, there is still upside to Trice. He was Washington's top pass rusher for the last two seasons, totaling 16 sacks in that span. More than just sacks, though, Trice consistently and constantly got a quarterback off their spot. He finished as the No. 1 player in the FBS in pressures in 2022 (70) and 2023 (78). If Trice can put an NFL quarterback in a tough position, chances are there will be someone else there to clean it up.

EDGE Austin Booker, Kansas

CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

If taken in the third round, Lassiter is someone who could compete -- if not win -- a starting cornerback spot opposite Terrell. Obviously, the spot wouldn't be handed to him. He'd have to out-compete someone like Clark Phillips III if the Falcons decide to keep him outside. But iron sharpens iron, right? And Lassiter has shown throughout his years at Georgia that he's not particularly afraid to compete. With Lassiter, everyone tends to look at his lack of interceptions and ding him for it. Upon closer inspection, though, one will see just how important he was to Georgia's secondary. He only surrendered completions on 38.5% of his targets. No wide receiver scored a touchdown on Lassiter when he was in coverage. Furthermore, he hasn't had a pass interference call come his way since December 2022.

Auburn tight end Rivaldo Fairweather (13) is tackled by Georgia defensive back Kamari Lassiter (3) during the second half of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

CB D.J. James, Auburn

WR Malik Washington, Virginia

WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Washington

Polk is an interesting target for a couple reasons. Do the Falcons need more receivers when they already have five (Drake London, Ray-Ray McCloud, Darnell Mooney, Rondale Moore and Khadarel Hodge) in the room? Eh, maybe, maybe not. They definitely don't need a receiver as much as they probably need a defensive lineman, whether along the interior or edge. But with Polk, they're getting someone with an acute familiarity with their No. 8 overall pick, Penix. In 2023, Polk was Penix's No. 2 target behind Rome Odunze. As a duo, they amassed 1,500 receiving yards. There is an aura of intrigue around someone like Polk if higher-ranking receivers like McConkey and Mitchell get snatched up quickly on Day 2.

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