What Are The Atlanta Falcons’ Team Needs In The 2022 NFL Draft?

The 2022 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 28. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position is in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2022 NFL Draft hub.

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What Picks do the Atlanta Falcons have in 2022

The Atlanta Falcons have nine picks.

Round 1 (8)
Round 2 (43)
Round 2 (58)
Round 3 (74)
Round 3 (82)
Round 4 (114)
Round 5 (151)
Round 6 (190)
Round 6 (213)

Atlanta Falcons Top POSITIONS OF NEED

  1. Thoughts and prayers

Atlanta Falcons Strength of Schedule, 2022

The Atlanta Falcons have the 12th easiest NFL strength of schedule for the 2022 NFL season.

Atlanla Falcons Offense

By Rich Hribar


Marcus Mariota
Felipe Franks

The Falcons added Marcus Mariota to the roster after trading long-time face of the franchise Matt Ryan to the Colts

Mariota did not start a game for the Raiders over the past two seasons since he was last paired with Arthur Smith in Tennessee in 2019, attempting just 30 total passes over that span behind Derek Carr.

The long-term answer at quarterback is still wide open here, but the addition of Mariota gives Atlanta plenty of short-term flexibility. 

Atlanta can see if Mariota can rekindle any of the production that made him the second overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, let him serve as a one-year patsy on a bad roster while the team builds elsewhere on the roster, or serve as a bridge and inevitable backup to a rookie quarterback this season. 

Mariota inked a two-year deal, but only carries a dead cap hit of $2.5 million in 2023 if Atlanta does not wish to carry his $14.5 million salary. 


Cordarrelle Patterson
Mike Davis
Damien Williams
Qadree Ollison
Caleb Huntley
Keith Smith (FB)

Atlanta was one of the worst rushing teams in the league in 2021, ranking 29th in the league in expected points added via the ground (-38.9 EPA), 30th in yards per carry (3.7 YPC), and 27th in rushing scores (11). 

Despite the lack of overall success in counting stats, the team did squeeze more out of Cordarrelle Patterson than any of his previous stops since his rookie season.

At age 30, Patterson set career-highs in just about every department, turning 205 touches into 1,166 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The only shade was the magic left the bottle down the finish line. After catching five or more passes in six of the opening eight games of the season, Patterson had three or fewer catches in each of the final eight games of the year while posting 59 or fewer yards in each of his final five games played.

Patterson did pick up an ankle injury in Week 10, but then came back with 135 yards and two touchdowns on 18 touches when back on the field before his usage and performance declined.

Patterson only carries cap hits of $2.5 million and $5.5 million on his new contract, which is hardly the kind of monetary commitment that cements his status as the lead in this backfield. 

Mike Davis was largely ineffective with his usage in 2021, turning 182 touches into 762 yards and four touchdowns. His 4.2 yards per touch were 1.5 yards fewer per touch than Patterson while that mark ranked 51st among 55 backs with 100 or more touches on the season. Davis was third from the bottom among running backs in rushing yardage gained below expectation (-105 yards) per Next Gen Stats.

Atlanta needs as many talented skill players as possible. They should be adding a rookie to this part of the depth chart, although adding a running back with high-end capital is likely more of buying a swimming pool before a roof on the house. 


Damiere Byrd
Olamide Zaccheaus
Khadarel Hodge
Auden Tate
Frank Darby
Austin Trammell
Calvin Ridley*

This is bar none the least productive wide receiver room in the league. And that is coming off a season in which Atlanta wide receivers already ranked 31st in the league in targets (14.4), 30th in receptions (9.4), and 32nd in yardage (102.1 yards) per game while tied for 30th in the league with nine touchdown receptions. 

With Calvin Ridley suspended for the entirety of 2022 and Russell Gage leaving free agency, the Falcons are down to the bottom of the barrel. 

Damiere Byrd has the most yardage in a season among this group with 1,421 career yards over six seasons, while all of Auden Tate (799 yards), Olamide Zaccheus (795 yards), and Khadarel Hodge (430 yards) have struggled to be more than ancillary players at the back end of rosters.

Atlanta selected Frank Darby in the sixth round last season, but he logged just 20 offensive snaps for a team starving for anyone to play the position. Darby is the only player here (with the exception of Ridley) signed beyond this season. 

Atlanta is in dire straits at the position. 


Kyle Pitts
Daniel Helm
Parker Hesse
Brayden Lenius
Ryan Becker
John Raine

One of the few spots where Atlanta is fine at the top. 

Pitts was the first rookie tight end to reach 1,000 yards receiving since Mike Ditka in 1961. He lined up all over the field, playing 286 snaps in the slot, 248 snaps inline, and another 237 snaps out wide.  

Pitts was second among all tight ends in route participation rate (80.6%), ninth in targets per game (6.5), and second in intended air yards (1,204). 

There was plenty of meat left on the bone as he scored just one touchdown (-4.1 below expectation) on that usage while he also ranked 49th out of 51 tight ends in catchable target rate (67.3%) with more than 25 targets on the season. The two players below him (Cameron Brate and Mo-Alie Cox) didn’t even combine to have as many targets as he did. 

Pitts will turn 22 years old in October with immense upside and a long career runway.

There is nothing of note behind Pitts, with only Brayden Lenius signed beyond this season. 


LT: Jake Matthews/Willie Beavers/Elijah Wilkinson
LG: Jalen Mayfield/Rashaad Coward/Ryan Neuzil
C: Matt Hennessy/Drew Dalman
RG: Chris Lindstrom/Colby Gossett
RT: Kaleb McGary/Germain Ifedi/Rick Leonard

The offensive front was another unit that was near the bottom of the league in 2021. 

Atlanta ranked 26th in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate metric (54%) while ranking 29th in their Run Block Win Rate (67%). 

At Pro Football Focus, they graded out 31st in collective pass blocking, ranking 32nd in the league in pressure rate allowed (39.7%). 

Jake Matthews just signed a hefty extension through 2026. That deal was more about moving money around as it is frontloaded with dead cap hits of $46.1 million and $30.9 million over the next two seasons before opening up after 2023. 

Matthews has played and started in all but one game since being drafted sixth overall by the Falcons in 2014. 

Center Matt Hennessy is also a viable starter, grading out as the ninth highest center in 2021 per Pro Football Focus. Hennessey still has two seasons left on his rookie contract.

Atlanta has one more solid starter on the front in Chris Lindstrom. Lindstrom was the sixth highest-graded guard in 2021. He did not allow a sack on 624 pass blocking snaps, the most in the league for a guard without allowing a sack. 

The Falcons have until May 2 to pick up the fifth-year option on Lindstrom, something that should be a no-brainer.

After Matthews, Lindstrom, and Hennessy, Atlanta has two wide-open holes at left guard and right tackle. 

They also have a decision to make in picking up the fifth-year option on right tackle Kaleb McGary, something that should be equally as easy in the other direction. 

McGary was the 62nd graded tackle per Pro Football Focus in 2021, after grading 57th in 2020, and 77th in 2019. McGary ranked 68th among all tackles with over 100 pass blocking snaps in pressure rate allowed (6.9%) while allowing nine sacks (third-most) among that group. Entering the final season of his rookie deal, Atlanta added veteran Germain Ifedi on a one-year deal to add competition to push McGary, but Ifedi is not the long-term answer at the position.

Atlanta used a third-round pick on left guard Jalen Mayfield last offseason. While Mayfield started 16 games, he also ranked 93rd out of 94 guards in pressure rate allowed (9.7%) while allowing a league-high nine sacks.

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Atlanta Falcons Defense

By Dan Pizzuta

Interior Defensive Line

Grady Jarrett
Marlon Davidson
Ta’Quaon Graham
John Cominsky
Anthony Rush
Nick Thurman

Grady Jarrett is still doing Grady Jarrett things. He was fifth among defensive tackles in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate and was 33rd at the position in overall pressure rate, per SIS.. Jarrett has been one of the best pass rushing interior linemen since he entered the league but with his contract expiring after this season, there appears to be some question if another extension is on the horizon.

With Tyeler Davison released, Marlon Davidson could slide in as the No. 2. Davidson, a 2020 second-round pick, played 23% of the defensive snaps in 2021.

The Falcons rotated a ton of defensive tackles throughout last season and will likely have to again as the team tries to figure out what to do with and next to Jarrett.


Lorenzo Carter
Adetokunbo Ogundeji
James Vaughters
Quinton Bell
Jordan Brailford

Lorenzo Carter never fully clicked as a pass rusher with the Giants, but even with just a one-year/$3.5 million, he’s in line to be Atlanta’s top player at the position. Carter has plus athleticism that has yet to translate into production, but that could be something potentially unlocked by Dean Pees.

Adetokunbo Ogundeji was a 2021 fifth-round pick who played 45% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps as a rookie, but he provided little value as a pass rusher. Despite rushing the passer on 90.2% of his pass snaps, Ogundeji had just a 6.6% pressure rate (95th among edge rushers) and two quarterback hits.

Something will need to be added here on top of the development for one of these two players.

Off-ball Linebacker

Deion Jones
Rashaan Evans
Mykal Walker
Dorian Etheridge
Rashad Smith

Deion Jones remains the consistent piece in the middle of the Atlanta defense. He was about average in yards allowed per coverage snap (40th among 85 qualified linebackers) and had to be relied on more as a clean-up tackler without much else around him. He’s signed through 2023.

The Falcons signed Rashaan Evans, a former first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans. Evans only played in 12 games last season, but ranked 16th among linebackers in yards allowed power coverage snap.

Mykal Walker, a 2020 fourth-round pick, should also see more playing time. Walker is a plus blitzer, who rushed the passer on 21% of his pass snaps in 2021. With a lack of edge talent, Walker could see that increase while Jones and Evans play more traditional linebacker roles.


A.J. Terrell
Casey Hayward
Isaiah Oliver
Kendall Sheffield
Darren Hall
Corey Ballentine
Avery Williams
Cornell Armstrong
Dee Alford
Lafayette Pitts

A.J. Terrell is a star. He was third among cornerbacks in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap in 2021. He’ll be extension eligible after this season and the Falcons should try to lock him up as soon as possible.

Casey Hayward signed for a two-year deal and free agency and should give Atlanta a more than capable No. 2 across from Terrell. Hayward was 21st in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap last season with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Isaiah Oliver re-signed on a one-year deal this offseason after he missed most of 2021 with a knee injury. Oliver has played well in the slot when he’s been on the field, which would give the Falcons an impressive corner group and probably the best positional group on the team.


Erik Harris
Jaylinn Hawkins
Richie Grant
Dean Marlowe
Teez Tabor
Luther Kirk

Erik Harris played 60% of the defensive snaps last season and he was the only returning safety that played over 40% of the snaps. Jaylinn Hawkins was at 39%. There is hope — nearly a necessity — for development from 2021 second-round pick Richie Grant.

Dean Marlowe signed a one-year deal coming over from Detroit and serves as veteran depth and should also see playing time after playing 61% of the defensive snaps for the Lions last season.

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