By trading Matt Ryan this offseason to the Indianapolis Colts, the Falcons signaled there was a changing of the guard in Atlanta. They are clearly in the first stage of a rebuild, which has been needed for years.
But did the Falcons do enough in the 2022 NFL Draft to warrant some sleeper buzz in the NFC South? And just what can we expect from their top pick in this year’s class? Here are all of the latest 2022 odds for the Falcons and all of the news and notes regarding their recent draft class.
There is no legal, regulated Georgia sports betting and there won’t be for the 2022 NFL season.
Falcons History With Wide Receivers In First Round
The Atlanta Falcons used their first-round selection on USC wide receiver Drake London at No. 8. He was the first receiver off the board and should be a plug-and-play starter for the Falcons. Atlanta has had a lot of success with first-round receivers over the years, as Calvin Ridley (2018), Julio Jones (2011) and Roddy White have all had very successful NFL careers. White and Jones combined made 11 Pro Bowls during their careers with the Falcons, totaling nearly 24,000 receiving yards.
London is the seventh receiver to be picked by the Falcons in Round 1, and he is the second-highest selected behind only Jones (No. 6). It is worth mentioning the Falcons have now chosen a pass-catcher inside of the top-10 picks in back-to-back drafts, with tight end Kyle Pitts going at No. 4 in 2021.
Who the Falcons Took in the Draft
The Falcons selected five players in the top 85 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and it appears they got excellent value at every spot. But the story here will be London as the Falcons made him the first receiver off the board in a receiver-rich draft. If he can become a dominant No. 1 receiver, the Falcons could have two of the biggest and most dynamic weapons in football with him and Pitts.
After Round 1, Atlanta added three elite athletes to their front seven in Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen and DeAngelo Malone. None of the three are instant starters, but they all have incredibly high ceilings with their athleticism. The hope is that two, if not all three, can start on defense by the 2023 season.
Atlanta also picked a quarterback inside the top 75, Desmond Ridder from Cincinnati. Ridder got some first-round buzz late in the process but fell to the middle part of Round 3. He'll now have the chance to sit behind Marcus Mariota for a year or two before taking over the starting quarterback job. For a quarterback as successful as Ridder, grabbing him at pick No. 74 seems like a massive steal.
- Round 1 (8th overall): Drake London, WR, USC
- Round 2 (38th overall): Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
- Round 2 (58th overall): Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
- Round 3 (74th overall): Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
- Round 3 (82nd overall): DeAngelo Malone, EDGE, Western Kentucky
- Round 5 (151st overall): Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
- Round 6 (190th overall): Justin Shaffer, OL, Georgia
- Round 6 (213th overall): John FitzPatrick, TE, Georgia
Falcons Not Among Super Bowl Favorites After 2022 Draft
The Falcons had an excellent draft on paper, but this team is in a complete rebuild after trading Ryan and Julio Jones in consecutive seasons. They are taking on a considerable dead-cap hit on Ryan, making it tough for them to bring in many outside free agents.
While they could look competitive in games with Mariota under center, this isn't a team that will be a threat in the NFC South in 2022, let alone in the conference. They are at least a year from being a playoff-caliber team, but this draft class is a step forward in the right direction.
The Falcons are at +15000 to win the Super Bowl, +7000 to win the NFC and +1800 to win the NFC South, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. That puts Atlanta in a three-way tie for 29th with the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. Only the Houston Texans (+20000) are worse.
Here is a look at the top 10 in Super Bowl betting odds plus the Falcons:
Overall, Atlanta is still a few years from being a legitimate contender in the NFC. But there is a lot to like about this year's draft class for them moving forward. There are advocates for making sports betting legal in Georgia so perhaps their effort will bear fruit by the time the Falcons are true contenders again.
If London can be the No. 1 receiver they are hoping for and if they can hit on a few of their Day 2 defenders, the Falcons might not be all that far away from making another run in the NFC. This was undoubtedly a great haul by the Falcons as they enter a transitional period post-Matt Ryan.