Washington moves up to take first quarterback off the board

Feb 28, 2022 at 12:50 PM Scott Bair

Falcons Digital Managing Editor

My mailbags are full of questions about the Falcons trading down in the NFL Draft. I think that's a real possibility and a smart move for a team looking to build a sturdy, young foundation through the draft, though it's all about the compensation package received in return. No. 8 overall is a valuable slot, meaning they need to get a strong return of higher-profile picks this year and next.


Washington is in desperate need of a quarterback and they pounce on an opportunity to take the first signal caller off the board. The Falcons don't have to fall back too far, still in position to select a potentially dominant pass rusher fully capable of making an immediate impact.

That's an attractive option considering how many quality players at areas of Falcons need go off the board early, making it a bit easier for the Falcons to drop.

There's a strong run on edge rushers, offensive tackles and cornerbacks at the top, but there's a good pass rusher waiting for the Falcons at No. 11 overall, with the opportunity to add more with picks received in the Washington deal. Let's take a look at this week's mock:

JAX1Evan NealOL | Alabama

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): OL, WR, CB

NFL.com player comp: Jordan Mailata

It was a good pick for the Jags a month ago and still is. It should be even more obvious Neal's the first pick after he tests well at the NFL Scouting Combine.

DET2Aidan HutchinsonEDGE | Michigan

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB,WR, EDGE

NFL.com player comp: None provided

This is a match made for Motor City. Hutchinson to Detroit seems like a virtual lock.

HOU3Derek StingleyCB | LSU

Biggest Needs (via NFL.com): QB, CB, DL

NFL.com player comp: Stephon Gilmore

The Texans are a bit unpredictable and a smidge erratic, so it's possible they go for elite talent at a premium position, surprising some folks by taking Derek Stingley sky-high in this draft.

NYJ4Kyle HamiltonS | Notre Dame

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): CB, WR, S

NFL.com player comp: Kam Chancellor

The Jets can't believe Hamilton's available them and make the easiest pick in the early going, securing a safety who could be even better than Jamal Adams in his prime.

NYG5Kayvon ThibodeauxEDGE | Oregon

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): OL EDGE, TE

NFL.com player comp: Brian Orakpo

The Giants desperately need pass-rush help, and conclude that Thibodeaux won't be around when they draft again at No. 7. They secure him without engaging in that risk, believing an offensive tackle will be around at their next pick.

CAR6Ikem EkwonuOL | N.C. State

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, OL, CB

NFL.com player comp: Kelechi Osemele

Having Ekwonu available changes the match for Carolina, who passes on the chance to take a quarterback. They need offensive line help pretty bad, and they get a prospect some consider worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.

NYG7Charles CrossOL | Mississippi State

(via Bears)

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, LB, EDGE

NFL.com player comp: Tristan Wirfs

Giants nab a hulking pass protector also considered among the top players in this draft regardless of position.

WAS8Malik WillisQB | Liberty

TRADE: Acquired in draft-day trade with Falcons

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, OL, WR

NFL.com player comp: Jalen Hurts, Jay Cutler

Washington goes big here, taking the strong-armed, mobile quarterback with great potential with the No. 8 pick, fearful the Broncos would take him at No. 9. The Commanders get their franchise quarterback, with Taylor Heinicke under contract another season and able to start if Willis isn't ready.

DEN7David OjaboEDGE | Michigan

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): OL, EDGE, TE

NFL.com player comp: Cliff Avril

The Broncos don't just settle for a secondary option at quarterback with Willis off the board, pivoting to a pass rusher with tremendous upside.

NYJ10Ahmad GardnerCB | Cincinnati

(via Seahawks)

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): CB, WR, S

NFL.com player comp: Richard Sherman

The Jets address their secondary twice in the top 10, working to cement a strong secondary and a defense that needs an overhaul. They need offensive line help pretty bad, but they take the best player left on the board.

ATL11Jermaine Johnson IIEDGE | Florida State

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): EDGE, OL, WR

NFL.com player comp: Maxx Crosby

Johnson had an excellent Senior Bowl and should test well at the combine, offering the speed and power required to excel off the edge in Dean Pees' system. He's already a solid edge setter, something required in this Falcons front. The Falcons get Johnson at 11 and Washington's second round pick at No. 43, though I gave up some later-round picks to balance things out.

MIN12Trent McDuffieCB | Washington

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): CB, EDGE, LB

NFL.com player comp: Jaire Alexander

Cornerback's still the right way to go here, even with Stingley and Gardner off the board. McDuffie's still a solid option at this spot, with potential to be a No. 1 cornerback and a steadying presence in the secondary.

CLE13Drake LondonWR | USC

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DT, LB, S

NFL.com player comp: Ed McCaffrey

Browns need receivers in the worst way, especially as Jarvis Landry creates distance with the Browns. London's an athletic freak who could be a Mike Evans-like monster in the pattern.

BAL14Tyler LinderbaumC | Iowa

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DT, OL, LB

NFL.com player comp: Jason Kelce

The Ravens could lose Bradley Bozeman in free agency. This would be an ideal replacement. They need an offensive tackle as well, but they can get by with veterans currently on the roster.

PHI15Devin LloydLB | Utah

(via Dolphins)

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): EDGE, S, WR

NFL Mock Draft: Falcons trade down, select pass rusher trending up during pre-draft process

NFL.com player comp: Willie Gay

Devin Lloyd seems like a solid anchor on the interior for an Eagles defense that needs stability in that spot. They add dynamic playmaker in an important spot.

PHI16George KarlaftisEDGE | Purdue

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): EDGE, S, WR

NFL.com player comp: No comparison given

The Eagles stick with defense with their second straight pick, getting a solid pressure creator that is a solid all-around defender

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LAC17Garrett WilsonWR | Ohio State

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DT, LB, WR

NFL.com player comp: None provided

There's a possibility the Chargers lose Mike Williams in free agency. Wilson could be a steady producer whether Williams returns or not, and fleshes out Justin Herbert's arsenal.

NO18Kenny PickettWR | Pittsburgh

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, WR, OT

NFL.com player comp: Andy Dalton (in his prime)

The Saints are a stable quarterback away from being a contender again. Pickett could provide that as early as this season

PHI19Treylon BurksWR | Arkansas

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): EDGE, S, WR

NFL.com player comp: A.J. Brown

The Eagles land a tough receiver capable of gaining YAC, and could compliment DeVonta Smith well.

PIT20Matt CorralQB | Mississippi

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, OL, LB

NFL.com player comp: Baker Mayfield

The Steelers land an athletic quarterback who could develop into a solid replacement for Big Ben.

NE21Travon WalkerDL | Georgia

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DB, LB, WR

NFL.com player comp: Chris Wormley

Bill Belichick lands an intriguing talent from the reigning national champs that his defensive mind will be able to maximize.

LV22Chris OlaveWR | Ohio State

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DT, OL, WR

NFL.com player comp: Terry McLaurin

Speed like this belongs on the Raiders. It's a trait the franchise has long coveted and needs again with Henry Ruggs no longer with the team.

ARI23Andrew BoothCB | Clemson

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): CB, DL, EDGE

NFL.com player comp: Jackrabbitt Jenkins

The Cardinals will need cornerback help through the draft -- those guys don't come cheap in free agency -- and nab a quality talent and good value at this point in the first round.

DAL24Nakobe DeanLB | Georgia

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DB, DL, TE

NFL.com player comp: Devin Bush

Those who watched Georgia each week saw how impactful Dean can be as an all-around playmaker. He'll join an already solid Cowboys defense, with his presence making them even more dynamic.

BUF25Jordan DavisDL | Georgia

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DL, OL, WR

NFL.com player comp: Ted Washington

Ed Oliver has a new best friend. Davis will eat blockers and allow the three-technique to truly thrive, while provide top-flight run defense.

TEN26Kenyon GreenOL | Texas A&M

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): OL, LB, TE

NFL.com player comp: Richie Incognito

Green's a plug-and-play offensive lineman with some versatility. The Titans will find a way to use him right and upgrade along the front.

TB27Jahan DotsonWR | Penn State

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, OL, WR

NFL.com player comp: Emmanuel Sanders

I still think the Bucs will land a veteran quarterback. They help him with a dynamic offensive weapon.

NOTE: This selection was made before Ali Marpet's surprise retirement.

GB28Marquise WilliamsWR | Alabama

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): WR, EDGE, CB

NFL.com player comp: Will Fuller

The Packers are so stacked they can afford to wait for Williams to get healthy and ready to contribute, potentially adding a dynamic playmaker for Aaron Rodgers, who (bold prediction) is coming back to the pack.

MIA29Trevor PenningOT | Northern Iowa

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): OL, EDGE, LB

NFL.com player comp: Riley Reiff

The Dolphins would be thrilled with this pick, getting a talent that could've gone far higher.

KC30Devonte WyattDL | Georgia

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): DB, OT, WR

NFL.com player comp: Will Fuller

The Chiefs focus on the defensive front with so many receivers already off the board, adding a versatile, powerful talent on the inside.

CIN31Bernhard RaimannOT | Central Michigan

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): S, OL, LB

NFL.com player comp: Sebastian Vollmer

The Bengals must protect Joe Burrow better. Than should be an edict from on high, and Raimann can step in and help at right tackle.

DET32Dax HillS | Michigan

via Rams

Biggest needs (via NFL.com): QB, WR, EDGE

NFL.com player comp: No comparison given

Hill is a versatile player who can play in the slot or play deep, allowing the Lions to make him a roving chess piece that should help add talent to a defense that desperately needs it.

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