2023 NFL Draft: 5 Best first round fits for the Atlanta Falcons

West Virginia v Texas Tech
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The five best first-round picks for the Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons sit in an advantageous position heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. They have the No. 8 overall pick for the second straight year despite posting a record that is better than what was expected. They will be able to go with a truly best player available strategy for their pick this year because of how they have been addressing their biggest needs in the draft. Going in order from least likely to be the pick to most likely to be the pick, these are the five best fits for them in the draft.

EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

Tyree Wilson is not likely to even be there at No. 8 overall, but he would be an excellent fit for the Falcons should they decide to take him. If they want a guy to be their version of Cameron Jordan, Wilson has all the tools to do it. He has the length and ability to be an extremely effective 5-technique defensive end when they run those sets while also being able to slide inside or play traditional end. While Calais Campbell is scheduled to play that role in 2023, he's only on a one-year deal.

Wilson has 10-sacks per year potential in the NFL and could be the guy who fits that starting defensive end role for the next decade. The Falcons are not likely to see him there, as he should end up going in the top seven picks with seven being his floor, but if he's there at No. 8 overall, they should sprint to the podium and start selling No. 19 Wilson jerseys the next day. He has the potential to be the best Falcons pass rusher since the loss of John Abraham in 2012.

DL Jalen Carter, Georgia

Yet another player who is unlikely to be there at No. 8 overall because of how good he is on the field is Jalen Carter from Georgia. He's excellent at pass rushing and is one of the best athletes at defensive tackle since Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy got drafted in the top three picks of 2010. Carter has likely landing spots in Seattle, Detroit, and even Arizona during the 2023 NFL Draft. However, he does have some off-field questions that could cause him to slip.

If Carter is there at No. 8, the Falcons should gladly grab him right away and insert him into the defensive line rotation. Atlanta might be his best fit in the NFL as well. They have three built-in mentors for him with David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, and long-time Falcon Grady Jarrett. By rotating in Carter with those three and TaQuon Graham, the Falcons could have one of the best, deepest rotations at interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

OL Paris Johnson, Ohio State

Paris Johnson is the opposite scenario of either Tyree Wilson or Jalen Carter in that he should easily be there at No. 8 overall, but he should go a little later in the No. 10 to No. 15 range of the draft. Johnson is a true left tackle prospect, but he could slide right in at left guard should the Falcons select him in the first round of the draft. He's unlikely to be their selection because there should be better fits for the team on the board at No. 8 overall.

However, if the Falcons trade down to the No. 11 to No. 16 range, they could have him available for selection. Johnson would slot right in next to Drew Dalman and Jake Matthews at left guard for at least a couple of years while the Falcons get the last few years of Matthews' career. Atlanta would have a perfect replacement for Matthews with Johnson and could turn into one of the more dominant offensive lines in the NFL with his selection.

RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

The Falcons could drastically improve their offense with Bijan Robinson. Matchup nightmares are the name of the game when it comes to him. He can align at running back, wide receiver or in the slot and be effective. Combine him with the following options and the Falcons really have a varied group of weapons to work with:

  • Drake London: Slot or outside receiver
  • Kyle Pitts: Tight End, slot or Outside
  • Jonnu Smith: Tight End, slot, outside or fullback
  • Mack Hollins: Outside
  • Scotty Miller: Slot or outside
  • Cordarrelle Patterson: Running Back, slot or outside

On top of that, Robinson could drastically change the Falcons' offense by giving them a dominant screen option that allows them to use the passing game like the running game at times and really have a different option. He would also give them some explosive plays that they aren't seeing right now with the current group of talent in the offense.

EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia

Nolan Smith might come as a shock for being in the most-likely pick at No. 8. However, teams will love his off-field demeanor and see a long-term captain for their linebackers unit. He has the potential to be someone like Khalil Mack or Micah Parsons as long as he can stay healthy and continue to develop. He looks a little undersized when looking at his combine measurements, but the Falcons could see him play the run against SEC talent and realize he has more than enough requisite strength.

Smith has some of the most speed seen at the position and when that's combined with his off-field additions and his high football intelligence, teams will love him. One of those will be the Falcons, and if he's there at No. 8 overall, it won't be shocking if the Falcons decide to go with him. Atlanta would be able to use him as a rotational edge rusher early or even as a linebacker early in his career, but he should eventually find himself in a Julian Peterson-type role, long-term.

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.

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