New Mock Draft Has Falcons Drafting Matt Ryan’s Replacement

Falcons draft Kenny Pickett

Getty Falcons projected to draft Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Panthers at No. 8 overall in CBS Sports mock draft.

Whether you want to believe it or not, the 2022 NFL Draft is just right around the corner and there is a lot of pressure for the Atlanta Falcons––who must get this one right under new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot.

Atlanta is set to pick at No. 8 overall this year and with a lot of needs on their checklist, this pick will be crucial for the future of the Falcons.

Will they turn to their offensive line holes, a better receiving corps, backfield depth or focus on their slim secondary?


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According to a new mock draft by CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, the Falcons will bypass all of those above needs and turn to Matt Ryan‘s replacement instead.

Edwards has the Falcons taking Pittsburgh quarterback and 2021 Heisman trophy candidate, Kenny Pickett.

He writes:

Realistically speaking, Atlanta is not going to get out of Matt Ryan’s contract this offseason but they can bring in his successor to learn. The Falcons had an opportunity to add a franchise quarterback last year but punted the chance. If they do not get someone in the door soon, they are going to waste the rookie contract window of the tight end they were so eager to draft a year ago.

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Pickett is Up for the 2021 Heisman Trophy

As a 2020 senior, Pickett was set to enter the 2021 NFL draft, however, after failing to produce the numbers that would boost his draft stock, he decided to stay another year. He took full advantage of eligibility granted by the NCAA as a result of the pandemic and returned for one last ride with the Panthers.

And it’s safe to say that it worked out in Kenny’s favor as he finished the regular season with 314 completions for 4,066 yards and 40 touchdowns and topped it off with an ACC Championship win over Wake Forest.

The “Kenny Heisman” talk entered the chat in the midst of an incredible season as Pickett posted Heisman numbers starting with Georgia Tech, where he threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns.

Following the win, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi gave Kenny the Heisman nod.

“He should be a Heisman candidate,” Narduzzi said via ESPN. “It’s what he is right now. The guy is so smooth, he’s so calm. … He’s a smart football player, and it takes time to get that where you want it to be. He’s put the work in and he deserves what he’s getting right now.”

Not only did Kenny’s overall 2021 performance boost his draft stock from the third round to the first round, he also joined Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Alabama QB Bryce Young as a 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist.


The NCAA Banned Kenny’s “Fake Slide”

Pickett is now infamously known for the NCAA banning the “fake slide.”

Even if you didn’t watch Pickett in action at the ACC Championship, you likely heard about it. He received a lot of praise and a lot of backlash for the fake slide he executed in the first quarter, which ultimately led to his 58-yard touchdown and put the Panthers at 6-0.

Kenny had zero plans to perform a fake slide, but just five days at the win, the NCAA banned the move.

Former NFL referee Terry McAuley announced that a fake slide will now be an immediate dead ball and the play is not reviewable.

As for Kenny, he’s unphased.

Whether or not the Falcons end up taking Pickett with their first pick remains to be seen but it’s not a bad option at all.

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