Atlanta Falcons Drafting Another Alabama Receiver?
The Atlanta Falcons are taking yet another Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Todd McShay, an experienced and quite knowledgeable ESPN draft analyst released his first mock draft, and he believes the Falcons will take Alabama’s Jameson Williams with the eighth overall pick.
Perhaps McShay just let his draft algorithm make the pick, given Atlanta’s partiality for selecting Alabama receivers a computer program may think this is automatic. The Falcons selected the Tide’s Calvin Ridley in the first round, 26th overall in the 2018 draft. In 2011, Atlanta picked Alabama’s Julio Jones with the 6th overall pick.
Falcons Must Draft Help in the Trenches
Mock drafts are mock drafts for a reason, however with the bowl season right around the corner and players getting closer to cementing their draft positions, analysts can provide valuable insight for the actual draft. That said, the first round has to be used to draft an impact player to address the team’s most urgent need. Atlanta has a lot of needs making it difficult to pick the most crucial position, nevertheless, a wide receiver is certainly not one of them, regardless of the ongoing situation with Calvin Ridley.
McShay says he will be the best available player at the number eight spot:
"“And best available right now might just be Williams, who has tons of speed, elusiveness as a ball carrier and sure hands. His 1,445 receiving yards, 15 TD catches and 21.3 yards per catch all rank in the FBS’ top five. Paired with Pitts and Calvin Ridley (who is out right now to focus on his mental health), Williams could do damage.”"
There is no doubt Williams is a talented player, but as McShay also points out, Atlanta needs to address both sides of the line.
"“Will the Falcons upgrade in the trenches on either side of the ball? Atlanta is by far the worst in the NFL with just 16 sacks, and its offensive line is allowing pressure at the NFL’s ninth-highest rate (31.7%).”"
Clearly, that has to be the most pressing issue for this team. Although the offensive line had a stellar performance not allowing a single sack in last week’s 29-21 win over the Carolina Panthers, some more protection for Matt Ryan or whoever is playing quarterback, is needed. There is another Alabama product that could address that in Evan Neal, but it’s unlikely he will fall out of the top 5.
Then there is the defensive side of the ball. There are some big boys available at the top in Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Both players will provide an instant impact on any team that gets them, but for Atlanta to land that kind of help they will have to trade up another unlikely move.
While the Falcons could always use more offensive weapons, this year’s team has proven it can get the job by committee, with or without a star-wideout.