The Atlanta Falcons finally bottomed out in 2020 after nearly doing so in 2021. Dan Quinn was fired, and now Arthur Smith will get a chance to lead the team. They still have a promising offense, but they need to make some upgrades in the 2021 NFL Draft to set them up for present, and future, success.
The biggest question for the Falcons is whether or not they’ll consider a quarterback with the No. 4 pick. They still have Matt Ryan and will hang onto him to avoid accruing a massive dead cap hit, but could they draft a successor? If a player they like enough is there with their first pick, they could certainly consider it.
Outside of that, the team will need to continue to build up its defense and plug the holes that they have on offense to compete in one of the NFL’s toughest-looking divisions in the NFC South.
Here’s a look at the Falcons’ picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:
Falcons draft picks 2021: Who did Atlanta take?
- Round 1, Pick No. 4: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
- Round 2, Pick No. 40: Richie Grant, S, UCF
- Round 3, Pick No. 68: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
- Round 4, Pick No. 108: Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State
- Round 4, Pick No. 114: Drew Dalman, C, Stanford
- Round 5, Pick No. 148: Ta’Quon Graham, DT, Texas
- Round 5, Pick No. 182: Ade Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame
- Round 5, Pick No. 183: Avery Williams, CB, Boise State
- Round 6, Pick No. 187: Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State
Falcons 2021 NFL Draft order
|2||8 (from Broncos)|
|5||38 (Compensatory Selection)|
|5||39 (Compensatory Selection)|
|6||35 (Compensatory Selection)|
Falcons NFL Draft needs
- Cornerback: First-round rookie A.J. Terrell flashed at times last year, but the Falcons secondary 293.6 passing yards per game last year. That ranked dead-last in the NFL. Finding another outside starter to pair with Terrell is imperative.
- Edge rusher: The Falcons have Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle and Dante Fowler at one defensive end position. However, they don’t have much else in terms of pass rushers. Finding one could go a long way toward helping their defense, which tied for the ninth-fewest sacks per game last season (1.8).
- Safety: Losing Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and Damontae Kazee in one offseason has destroyed the Falcons’ safety depth. They need another potential starter to challenge Jaylinn Hawkins and Erik Harris for playing time.
- Offensive line: Atlanta can replace departed center Alex Mack with 2020 third-round pick Matt Hennessy, but they need to add another player to plug the hole they have at left guard. They can do that by either drafting a guard or picking a tackle and kicking right tackle Kaleb McGary inside to guard. The latter move may be the better option give McGary’s inconsistent play on the outside.
- Quarterback: Matt Ryan is the only Falcons QB under contract right now following the retirement of Matt Schaub. Ryan is 35, so the Falcons need a young backup they can groom to eventually replace Ryan as the starter. That could mean targeting Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones with the No. 4 overall pick.
Falcons mock draft 2021
Here are the latest 2021 NFL Draft projections for the Falcons, according to Vinnie Iyer’s seven-round mock draft:
|1||4||Trey Lance||QB||North Dakota State|