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Top three Falcons needs and how to fix them during the 2023 NFL Draft 

We take a look at players the Falcons could draft in the first three rounds

Editor's note: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.

The Falcons have made key acquisitions during the free agency period with the signings of safety Jessie Bates III, defensive linemen David Onyemata and Calais Campbell, and wide receiver Mack Hollins, among other moves. But there are still pieces needed to help bolster the roster on both sides of the ball with the 2023 NFL Draft nearing in less than three weeks. Atlanta currently has a total of eight picks in this year's draft, including a top-10 pick at No. 8 overall.


That doesn't necessarily mean Atlanta is locked at eight picks. Depending on if they decide to trade up or down, if at all, the number of draft picks could change for the Falcons. Here, we'll take a look at the Falcons top three needs heading into the draft and how they could fill them in the first three rounds.


Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) during an NCAA football game against the Indiana on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in West Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Falcons pick at No. 8 overall: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

When looking at the roster post-free agency, the cornerback position still remains a spot that needs more depth. The Falcons suffered key injuries in this area last season, in addition to having a lack of depth pieces to fill in. This unit finished last season with 10 interceptions and ranked 25th in passing yards per game, allowing an average of 231.9 yards, per Team Rankings.

Outside of A.J. Terrell, Atlanta needs another versatile cornerback in their secondary. Devon Witherspoon will be one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft. The Illinois product didn't allow a single touchdown in 2022, and only allowed 22 catches for 206 yards. The 6-foot 180-pound physical cornerback can play both in the slot and on the outside. Witherspoon also shares commonalities with Terrell in terms of physicality in which they both play with, quickness, and great ball awareness.

Edge rusher

Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald IV (9) gets past Southeast Missouri State offensive lineman Terry Cook (76) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Falcons pick at No. 44 overall: Will McDonald IV, Iowa State

With veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell now in the mix, the edge rusher position isn't the Falcons most pressing need. Yet, they still need to bolster this unit with more depth. The Falcons had the second-fewest sacks in 2022 with 21. Second-year players Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone are expected to take that next step in 2023 but the Falcons must continue to build up this position group.

Will McDonald IV could make a solid addition to the Falcons defense. The 6-foot-4 236-pound edge rusher had 16 quarterback hurries, 25 total pressures, three quarterback hits and six sacks in 2022. McDonald's agility coming off the edge makes him a nightmare for offensive linemen. Under the guidance of defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, McDonald could make a solid transition to the league.

Offensive guard

North Carolina State's Chandler Zavala (64) prepares to guard against Clemson during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Falcons pick at No. 75 overall: Chandler Zavala, N.C. State

The Falcons recently lost Elijah Wilkinson and Chuma Edoga in free agency who both played at the left guard position in 2022. Outside of left guard, the core members of the offensive line will all be returning in 2023. Matt Hennessy, who transitioned from center to guard, saw action at left guard last season but it remains uncertain on where he'll play in 2023. The Falcons could possibly fill this position with N.C. State's Chandler Zavala in the third round. In the last two years, Zavala allowed just eight pressures and zero sacks. Zavala's strong suit comes in pass-blocking, with solid run-blocking abilities. If the Falcons are looking to draft a versatile left guard who's proven to be efficient at the college level, they should no further than Zavala.

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