NFL Hot Press: Falcons Keeping Options Open at No. 8

2023 NFL Combine Results - Weigh-Ins and 40 Times

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB

2023 NFL Combine Stock Report:
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB

Combine Logo Falcons Keeping Options Open at No. 8

Updated March 4, 2023
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

For the second straight season, the Atlanta Falcons have the eighth-overall pick in the NFL draft. Since general manager Terry Fontenot took over in 2021, the Falcons have drafted freak athletes with rare skill sets in the first round, taking tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London. After losing Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, the Falcons were in need of receiving weapons. This year, Atlanta is keeping its options open with at No. 8 overall and is considering a number of avenues.

Free agency could have a big impact on what the Falcons do in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Atlanta has cap room for the first time in years because Fontenot has cleared out a lot of bad contracts that he inherited. Right tackle Kaleb McGary is hitting free agency and may not return. Sources told that Atlanta really likes Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski, and he is a candidate for the eighth pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. Skoronski could play right tackle, guard, and be a potential candidate to replace Jake Matthews at left tackle. The Falcons interviewed Skoronski at the combine, and he could be a good culture fit for Atlanta as well.

Cornerback is another position that could get consideration because the Falcons could use an outside cornerback to pair with A.J. Terrell. Veteran slot corner Isaiah Oliver is entering free agency, and he played well last year. Even if Oliver returns, cornerbacks like Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. are candidates for Atlanta.

Of course, the most important position that the Falcons have to consider is quarterback. Sources with the team said the team really liked how Desmond Ridder developed during his rookie season, showing intelligence, work ethic, and maturity. Ridder is also putting in work with his receivers this offseason. The Falcons will do their due diligence on the quarterback prospects, but if they don’t fall in love with any of them, the general sense from conversations with Atlanta staff is that the Faclons are happy to go with Ridder.

Atlanta also could use help on the defensive line given the issues the franchise with the pass rush over the past few seasons. The Falcons like how second-year pro and 2022 second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie developed while playing with some injuries as a rookie. Atlanta is picking too low in the 2023 NFL Draft to land Alabama’s Will Anderson and Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson. The Falcons also aren’t high on Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy. However, there is some depth to the edge-rush class, so Atlanta could look more defensive line talent in Round 2, like the organization did last year.

Thus, the Falcons are one of the most mysterious teams and most difficult to project in the top 10 this year. Atlanta is taking a long-term view in this rebuild under Fontenot, so one can expect the team won’t reach for need and will target a good player worthy of being the eighth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.