The Falcons must crush the 2022 NFL Draft, just like they had to nail the 2021 Draft if they want to compete anytime soon. We’ve seen the draft strategy under this new regime, targeting high-character and older players who fit the scheme they want to run. However, this isn’t a ranking for the Falcons, this is my ranking for the entire NFL. About halfway through the college football season, I figured I’d take a stab at ranking some of these players that I have my eye on early in the process. I’ll probably do one of these after the season, then after the combine, Senior Bowl, and my film study ends.

If you want to see my big board for the offense, you can find that here:

Early 2022 NFL Draft Big Board (Offense)

Interior Defensive Line

IDL1 Jordan Davis, Georgia

IDL2 DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

IDL3 Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

Right now, there isn’t a lot of depth with this group, but there are two bona fide studs at the top. I have Jordan Davis over Leal, which isn’t a popular opinion at this time, but I think it’s mostly due to position. Leal is more of a 5-technique, while Davis has a little more flexibility with the 1-technique and 3-technique due to his size and athleticism. If an NFL team can get Davis playing the 4-tech and 5-tech… watch out. They’re 1A and 1B at this point. Winfrey is somewhere in the middle, but there’s a pretty significant drop after the top two for now.

EDGE

EDGE1 Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

EDGE2 George Karlaftis, Purdue

EDGE3 Aidan Hutchison, Michigan

EDGE4 Drake Jackson, USC

EDGE5 Adam Anderson, Georgia

EDGE6 Nolan Smith, Georgia

EDGE7 Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

EDGE8 Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

EDGE9 Zach Harrison, Ohio State

EDGE10 Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

EDGE11 Brenton Cox, Florida

This is a very deep and talented group, which is good news for the Falcons. I wouldn’t even mind seeing them double or even triple down on EDGE defenders, and you can argue that 8 of these 10 guys are first round talents. Watch out for Kingsley Enagbare; he could shoot up these rankings quickly. I think Nolan Smith and Adam Anderson will do the same.

Linebackers

LB1 Nakobe Dean, Georgia

LB2 Brandon Smith, Penn State

LB3 Christian Harris, Alabama

LB4 Devin Lloyd, Utah

LB5 Mike Jones Jr., LSU

Nakobe Dean has shown that he’s an absolute game-wrecker as a blitzer and in the run game, so he has created a little seperation in a group that’s deep but not very top heavy. All of the other four guys have potential to start from day one, which the Falcons may need if they lose Foyseade Oluokun in free agency.

Cornerbacks

CB1 Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

CB2 Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati

CB3 Kaiir Elam, Florida

CB4 Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

CB5 Trent McDuffie, Washington

CB6 Derion Kendrick, Georgia

This is a VERY deep cornerback class with loads of talent at the top. The top five of these guys are top fifteen talents as it stands. With Stingley out indefinitely, I could see any of the 2-4 guys challenging him for the top spot. I’m pretty high on Ahmad Gardner, Kaiir Elam, and Booth — the Falcons could easily find AJ Terrell‘s running mate in this draft.

Safeties

S1 Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

S2 Jordan Battle, Alabama

S3 Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

S4 Daxton Hill, Michigan

S5 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern

S6 Tykee Smith, Georgia

I’ll get a bit deeper into this class as the process goes on because there’s a lot of big question marks down the board, which is typical with safeties. Bubba Bolden, Lewis Cine, Xavier Henderson, Smoke Monday, and Jalen Cantalon will likely enter these rankings somewhere, eventually. Right now, Kyle Hamilton is the easy wire-to-wire S1. He is an elite playmaker in multiple facets of the game, and he has Derwin James potential. The rest of these guys are likely to be high priority second round targets, and I’m curious to see if the Falcons get some more safety help next to Richie Grant. If any of these guys are available, they’re solid options.

This article first appeared on SportsTalkATL and was syndicated with permission.

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