How will the Falcons' draft strategy change with Raheem Morris?

With a new head coach, the Atlanta Falcons' draft strategy will undergo changes.
NFL Combine
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While general managers are seen as the decision-makers in the draft, there is no doubt that each head coach has a say over what will be done in the draft—after all, they are the ones who will be working one-on-one with these players.

Arthur Smith wanted to build his offense in the first round and then fill in the defense on day two and three. He drafted Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson in his three drafts as the head coach. It is hard to imagine a defensive-minded head coach doing the same.

So, now that the team has a head coach who has spent the majority of his career on the defensive side of the ball, what strategies and trends will change?

How the Falcons draft strategy will change in the 2024 NFL Draft

Right off the bat, the most obvious change will be taking a defensive player in the first round. It is something the team hasn't done since they took A.J. Terrell in 2020—when Morris was helping to coach the defense.

The Falcons focused on their offense in free agency and will now look to make their defense younger. It also helps when you will likely land the top defensive prospect at pick eight.


Diving deeper into this, the Falcons were fairly stagnant in their past three drafts. They have made a second-round trade in the past three drafts (2 trading up, 1 trading down). Terry Fontenot and the past coaching staff have preferred to go with the player-for-pick route as they have traded for or traded away many players.

Meanwhile, Raheem Morris, Sean McVay, Les Snead, and co. made 11 trades that only involved draft picks over the same amount of time. Expect to see the Falcons move up and down the board.

Quantity vs. quality:

The Rams have also gone for a quantity of picks rather than quality. They have made 31 picks over the three years compared to the Falcons' 23. The difference all happened this past draft when the Rams made 14 picks.

The Rams have also been known for trading away first-round picks which means the last time Morris was involved in a first-round pick was back in 2020 with A.J. Terrell. That will be broken in a week.

Preferred conference:

You can often find differing tendencies from team to team when it comes to where they prefer to draft their players from. The top answer would obviously be from Power-5 teams but some teams are more willing to expand their horizon.

The Falcons have been relatively open to taking smaller-school prospects. 30-percent of their picks in the past three years have come from players who play outside the Power-5.

When looking at Morris' trends in L.A.— only including defensive draft picks for obvious reasons—Morris has drafted 25% of his defensive prospects from non-Power-5 schools.

While Morris has been less inclined to take smaller-school prospects, he has drafted SEC players more frequently—something that will have many Falcons fans excited. Here is a complete look:


  • SEC: 22%
  • Big 10: 7%
  • Big 12: 7%
  • Pac-12: 17%
  • ACC: 4%
  • Non-P5: 30%

Raheem Morris with Rams:

  • SEC: 31%
  • Big 10: 13%
  • Big 12: 19%
  • Pac-12: 6%
  • ACC: 6%
  • Non-P5: 25%

Keep in mind that this is just a reference. There are so many other factors as to why each pick came from certain schools, not to mention, that it is a small sample size.


When you take a look at these three aspects it points to the idea that the Falcons will elect to make more trades, especially trade backs to acquire more picks, and they will be looking for players who played stiffer competition in college.

And then with how the draft board will fall, the moves the Falcons made in free agency, and what positions the Falcons need, I fully expect their first-round pick to be a defensive player.

As with every draft, things can change quickly. The Falcons may end up with an offensive player falling to them that they cannot pass up. The name I would track closely is Malik Nabers—he fits the profile of what this team has emphasized this offseason.