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Falcons 2024 mock draft: A new franchise QB for Atlanta?

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By: Kevin Knight

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

With the Falcons entering their bye week, it’s a perfect time for our inaugural 2024 mock draft! Kevin Knight brings you his first look at a potential three-round class for Atlanta, attempting to address the Falcons’ biggest roster needs.

The Atlanta Falcons have fallen far short of expectations in 2023. Atlanta enters their bye week at a disappointing 4-6, and are once again slated to pick inside the top 10 of the NFL Draft. There’s ample coverage of the issues with this team and the potential for a coaching change heading into 2024, but what about the offseason? Can this team’s issues be solved with a great draft class?

It’s time for me to take my first shot at a 2024 mock draft for the Falcons. Obviously, things have gotten a bit more interesting with Atlanta possessing the 9th overall pick, but don’t forget that the team is also projected to receive an extra third-round selection from the Calvin Ridley trade.

It’s still too early for a full mock—I honestly don’t know much about any of the Day 3 prospects at this stage—but I’ve got enough data for a three-round mock for Atlanta. Before we dive in, here are the picks that I’m currently projecting for the Falcons in 2024:

  • Round 1, Pick 9
  • Round 2, Pick 42
  • Round 3, Pick 73
  • Round 3, Pick 89 from Jaguars, Calvin Ridley trade
  • Round 4, Pick 110
  • Round 5, Pick 144
  • Round 6, Pick 200

This is the written version, but you can also find the mock draft in two alternate forms as well. On our YouTube channel:

The mock is also available on all your favorite podcast platforms! You can listen to it directly here:

Round 1, Pick 9: QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

While there’s a non-zero chance that Desmond Ridder could turn things around over the final 7 games of the season and lead the Falcons on a miraculous playoff run, Atlanta will almost certainly be looking for a new long-term signal caller heading into the 2024 season. Ryan Tannehill will be a popular name, as will potential trades for other veteran quarterbacks—particularly if Arthur Smith remains the head coach. That’s also an open question at this stage.

The best way for the Falcons to fix their endless QB carousel is to hit on a rookie, and it’s finally time for this team to commit to drafting a top prospect in the first round. Luckily, the 2024 class is a deep one, and Atlanta may be able to stand pat at 9 and have their choice of a number of prospects. Behind the top two of Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, there’s a tier of prospects who could all theoretically be available in this range: Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Oregon’s Bo Nix, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and LSU’s Jayden Daniels.

I think you can write down McCarthy to the Patriots in pen—he just screams Patriots QB to me. That leaves Penix, Nix, and Daniels, and Daniels is currently my favorite of the group when you factor in Penix’s medicals. Daniels is an electric dual-threat with five years of starting experience and an absolutely lethal deep ball. After an awesome freshman year at Arizona State in 2019, Daniels slowed down a bit from 2020-21 and ultimately wound up transferring to LSU for the 2022 season.

That led to his best-ever season, and he did it against the far better competition in the SEC. 2023 has been an enormous leap from there, with Daniels amassing an incredible 30-4 TD/INT ratio to go along with almost 1,000 rushing yards (8.1 YPC) and 8 TDs. Daniels needs to add weight to his 6’3 frame, but he’s improved in every area over his five-year career and looks the part of a potential NFL franchise quarterback.

I know folks will say “he’s going on Day 2 in my simulator!”. The simulators are wrong. Jayden Daniels will be a first-round pick by the time the Combine rolls around, you can book it now. He’d be a perfect fit for the Falcons, whether that’s with Arthur Smith or another offensive coach.

Round 2, Pick 42: EDGE J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State

With the Falcons having to address quarterback in the first round, that obviously pushes edge rusher down the board again. It’s not ideal, given the team’s screaming need for pass rush help, but at least they’ve got a high second-rounder to throw at the position. This is a good spot to be, because there are a number of high-upside edge rushers who could be available here, like Ohio State’s J.T. Tuimoloau.

With the Falcons presumably sticking with Ryan Nielsen’s defense, and thus preferring prototypical 4-3 ends, Tuimoloau is a logical fit. He’s big (6’4, 270), long, and strong as an ox—he’s one of the best run defenders in the entire draft. As a pass rusher, the traits and motor are all there. He’s got a terrific first step and can explode into the backfield to make plays, along with surprisingly good flexibility.

Like most Day 2 pass rushers, he needs to develop additional counter moves and continue to hone his technique. Tuimoloau has some incredible flashes on tape and has taken over games—he just hasn’t done it consistently at this point. In Tuimoloau, the Falcons would be getting an instant starter thanks to his reliability against the run, and he’d also have the highest pass rush ceiling of anyone on the team.

Round 3, Pick 73: WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

I don’t know who will be calling plays for this offense in 2024, but there’s one glaring hole that needs patching right now: WR2. Drake London is good at what he does and Kyle Pitts should get a lot more targets going forward, but the Falcons lack dynamic playmaking ability when Pitts is playing inside. A versatile inside/outside player with deep speed is exactly what Atlanta needs to complete the offense, and Oregon’s Troy Franklin looks like a perfect fit.

From a size/speed perspective, Franklin checks the boxes: he’s got a great frame at 6’3 and has reportedly run in the mid-4.3s. The one issue there is his low weight, as Franklin has typically played under 190. That’s not egregiously low, but it’s definitely thin for someone his size. But the most impressive thing about Franklin is his overall athleticism: he’s got elite speed, high-end explosiveness, and dynamic short-area movement skills. He’s a threat every time he touches the ball and is capable of creating big gains off short throws with just a little bit of space.

As you might be able to guess from his size profile, Franklin’s issues stem from a lack of physicality. He’s just too light to hold up to much contact and can struggle when pressed by bigger, physical corners. I doubt Franklin is ever going to develop into a high-end possession receiver a la Drake London, but the Falcons don’t need him for that. If he can just get up to around 200, that should be more than enough to help him excel in an offense with a lot of other higher-priority targets. Franklin could be the perfect complement to Atlanta’s existing arsenal.

Round 3, Pick 89 (from Jaguars): DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas

While the Falcons took major steps to address their defensive line in 2023—and those steps certainly paid off when everyone was healthy—the injury to Grady Jarrett has shown just how limited Atlanta’s interior depth is. David Onyemata is great, but Ta’Quon Graham has disappointed and the team has still failed to find a nose tackle for base packages. Perhaps LaCale London takes control of that spot when he returns, but if not, this draft class has a number of exciting prospects.

Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat is one of my favorites, and it’s easy to see why. Sweat is an absolute unit at 6’4, 362 and plays with better-than-expected athleticism. As you might expect at that size, Sweat is extremely difficult to displace in the run game and actually plays with effective leverage despite his height. He’s a dominant run defender who uses his hands well to create chaos and collapse gaps. His burst off the line actually catches a lot of centers off guard, giving Sweat an opportunity to swallow up runners in the backfield. He’s currently enjoying a breakout senior season with 7.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks thus far.

Sweat probably shouldn’t play at 362 in the NFL, and it would be wise to get him down into the Vita Vea/Paul Soliai/Dontari Poe range at around 340. If he can do that, I think he’ll look even more athletic, and could even flash a little pocket pushing ability as a pass rusher. Still, he’s more than likely an early down and short-yardage package player for Atlanta early in his career, but he could be a damn good one.

What do you think about this potential draft class for the Falcons? Leave some of your own draft takes in the comments below.

Originally posted on The Falcoholic – All Posts

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