If the Falcons had 10 more sacks in 2021, they still would have ranked last in the NFL. After leading the ACC in both TFLs (17.5) and sacks (11.5) in '21, Johnson has continued to raise his stock throughout the predraft process. Arguably the biggest winner during Senior Bowl week, Johnson ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the combine with an even more impressive 1.55 10-yard split.
Relying on a quarterback who hasn't started since 2019 isn't ideal, but that's what Atlanta has going right now with Marcus Mariota. More than anything, Mariota needs weapons, so the Falcons get him the consensus top wideout in Wilson.
We know they made a serious bid for Deshaun Watson. But we just can't pull the trigger here on Pickett. This team has needs all over the place. That's why picking Thibodeaux makes sense from a talent standpoint. Plus, Atlanta had 18 sacks last year, which was dead last in the NFL -- by a country mile.
Atlanta is searching for its next franchise QB after trading Matt Ryan, but Marcus Mariota can hold the fort for a year. The 2023 class promises to have more options under center. In the meantime, the Falcons have a star in Kyle Pitts at tight end, but their wide receiver room is barren. The current group includes the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge and Frank Darby. London is a phenomenal talent and makes a lot of sense for the Falcons.
I could make the argument that the Falcons have the worst overall roster in the NFL. They lack talent at just about every position outside of tight end and could essentially just draft the best player available. The Falcons' talent at receiver is laughable and they cannot go into the season without adding a true No. 1 option to give quarterback Marcus Mariota a fighting chance. Wilson is my No. 1 receiver in this class and he offers the type of playmaking ability that should allow him to have a Justin Jefferson-type impact early in his NFL career.
Josh Kendall: Atlanta is going to be tempted to take Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett here, but the Falcons (should) know they can't afford a miss given the state of their roster. What they are not tempted to do is trade down, given that they already have six picks in the top 106. "You don't need 15 picks in the draft," head coach Arthur Smith said. "All those guys aren't going to make your team." That leaves Hamilton as the best fit. He has a high floor, will immediately give Atlanta more defensive versatility and should be a roster mainstay for a decade.
Brugler: The Falcons roster is in flux, and there are a number of different directions they could go. But Hamilton makes as much sense as any of them because of his skill level and impact potential. Not every franchise would be on board with drafting a hybrid safety in the top 10, so it is important for Atlanta to have a clear plan for Hamilton. In a lot of ways, he is the defensive version of Kyle Pitts last year -- maybe not the greatest need for Atlanta, but too talented to pass up.
Atlanta's current arsenal of pass-catching weapons is neck-and-neck with the Green Bay Packers' in terms of being the worst in the NFL, giving the Falcons' brass ample reason to lock into a wide receiver early in the draft. USC's Drake London or Ohio State's Garrett Wilson both are viable first-round selections for Atlanta, but -- in an effort to stick to the board and draft value over need -- I lean Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner at No. 8 overall. He is a perfect scheme fit for what Dean Pees and the Falcons want to do on defense and should offer immediate production playing opposite of 2021 breakout A.J. Terrell.