Editor's note: This is the final installment of a five-part series examining NFL Draft options the Falcons could use to address positions of need. We'll go over players the Falcons could take at No. 8 overall, plus considerations on Day 2 and Day 3. Here's where you can find the previous installments: Edge rushers, wide Receivers, cornerbacks, and interior defensive linemen.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons had the third-best rushing attack in the league last season, led by Tyler Allgeier, who eclipsed over 1,000 yards as a rookie. Cordarrelle Patterson and Caleb Huntley also played vital roles in that effort, helping to revitalize Atlanta's run game. There's no denying that. Yet, there's always opportunity for growth.
The running back position was the only area not added to during free agency. Could they be targeting a running back in the first round of the draft? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's an interesting note to keep in mind. Patterson will be on the final year of his contract in 2023 so when thinking long-term, drafting a running back could be a real possibility.
- Official free agency signings: S Jessie Bates III, DL David Onyemata, LB Kaden Elliss, QB Taylor Heinicke, CB Mike Hughes, LB Tae Davis, WR Mack Hollins; DL Joe Gaziano, WR Scotty Miller, DL Calais Campbell, OL Josh Miles, OLB Bud Dupree, CB Jeff Okudah, OL Ethan Greenidge
- NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Peter Schrager has Falcons drafting Georgia edge rusher at No. 8 overall
- Cornerbacks the Falcons could target throughout the 2023 NFL Draft
- Question of the Week: Which Falcons position group is the highest priority to replenish in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The Falcons have seven overall picks, with multiple on Day 2 and Day 3. Here, we'll take a look at options they could target on each day of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Bijan Robinson, Texas
Robinson had 104 missed tackles in 2022, which indicates he's difficult to bring down. The 6-foot, 220-pound running back finished his last season at Texas with 1,580 rushing yards on 258 attempts and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 19 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson is a pure athlete through and through, who can play multiple positions on the field. He's a physical runner who has top-end speed, great footwork and balance. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein compared him to Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.
Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
Though Gibbs is a running back, he's also a force in the receiving game. Over the last three years, Gibbs hauled in 104 receptions for 1,217 yards, averaging about 12 yards per catch. The Dalton, Ga., native has familiarity with the city of Atlanta, having spent his first two college seasons at Georgia Tech before transferring to Alabama his junior year. He's another versatile running back coming out of this year's draft class who's projected to be a first round selection.
Other Day 1 options: Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)
Devon Achane, Texas A&M
Achane posted the fastest 40-yard dash (4.32) by a running back in this year's combine. Saying he has top-end speed would be an understatement. The former Texas A&M running back runs hard and has quick instincts, allowing him to adjust on the fly. At 5-foot-9, 185-pounds, Achane doesn't shy away from contact either. He had 53 broken tackles last season.
His best year came in 2022 after rushing for 1,102 yards on 196 attempts and eight touchdowns, while catching 36 receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Achane could be a solid option for the Falcons to take at No. 75 overall.
DeWayne McBride, UAB
McBride rushed for 3,507 yards in three seasons at UAB, posting 1,713 rushing yards in 2022 alone. Though he fumbled nine times throughout his college career, that shouldn't take away from his efficiency as a runner. McBride runs with intensity and quickness which makes it difficult to tackle him straight up. He could be a late Day 2 steal for Atlanta.
Other Day 2 options: Tank Gibsy (Auburn), Kendre Miller (TCU)
Tyjae Spears, Tulane
Spears dominated the AAC conference in 2022, rushing for 1,581 yards on 229 attempts and 19 touchdowns. He's a patient runner who's able to make the right reads and cuts. He has injury history from early on in his college career but that shouldn't stop any team from drafting him. He's a reliable three-down back who has the potential to grow into a quality player at the league level.
The Falcons have multiple Day 3 picks which positions them to target Spears if he's still on the board.
Other Day 3 options: Sean Tucker (Syracuse), Deuce Vaughn (Kansas State), Zach Evans (Ole Miss)
Atlanta Falcons players are back at Flowery Branch to kick off prep for the 2023 season.