Over the course of the next few days (the weekend not included), Scott, Kris and I are going to go into more depth as to who our favorite Falcons draft pick was in 2022, and why.
I'm up first. Hi. It's Tori. And I have chosen Arnold Ebiketie, the edge rusher from Penn State, as my favorite Falcons draft pick of 2022.
As I wrote in our "Question of the Week" segment on Wednesday, I chose Ebiketie based on principle. The principle being that I can't preach pass rush all offseason and not choose a pass rusher as my favorite pick.
As time has gone on I understand why the Falcons didn't take an edge rusher at No. 8. Drake London was the right fit for the Falcons based on how the draft board fell on draft night. If any of those top three edge rushers falls to No. 8, perhaps I think differently on taking London. But now knowing 1) how far Jermaine Johnson fell and 2) how much the Falcons valued London on their own draft board, it makes complete sense - in my mind at least - why London was their guy.
Heading into the second day of the draft, you knew - everyone knew - the Falcons were targeting an edge rusher. They had to. It was inevitable. So, they did what they had to do to get their guy, trading away their No. 43 and No. 114 overall picks to move up to get Ebiketie. I do think that decision shows how much the Falcons valued Ebiketie to trade up to get him, and quite possibly how other teams may have valued him, too.
And there's a lot to like about Ebiketie from a football mechanics standpoint. I like his size, his length and his speed. He has a lot of experience at the college level, has a lot of live game reps on his resume (averaged 61.8 defensive snaps per game in 2021). His get-off acceleration is what you want from a guy his size, and he fits the mold of what Dean Pees would want in an edge rusher. Ebiketie has shown growth in both mechanics and overall production through every year he's played. That's something coaches and scouts value.
Then, there's Ebiketie, the person. He's the first Cameroonian-born player drafted to the NFL. He has a really cool story, one that I know we will get to tell at some point in the coming year.
With the Falcons, there's already a pressure put on Ebiketie's shoulders. I've already seen a handful of articles entitled something like: "Can the rookie edge rusher change the Falcons pass rush?" And to that I say this: Though the process of fixing the Falcons pass rush may begin with Ebiketie, it's not solely on him to fix what's broken.
To me, it's unrealistic to think he's going to change the Falcons pass rush immediately and in extreme fashion. In my mind, that is incredibly unrealistic. I see this being a development that will be years in the making and spanning multiple players who come into the building.
Ebiketie isn't the savior of the Falcons pass rush, but he is a nice start in the right direction.
Atlanta Falcons have drafted Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie in the second round.