The Atlanta Falcons have traded a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Detroit Lions for a former No. 3 overall pick in cornerback Jeff Okudah.
By trading for Jeff Okudah, the Atlanta Falcons may have tipped their hand as to what they could do at No. 8 in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Atlanta sent a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Detroit Lions for their former blue-chipper. While it was a frustrating three-year run for him in Detroit, Okudah was an absolute stud in college at Ohio State. Given that new Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen stems from the Sean Payton coaching tree, it comes as no shock someone with New Orleans Saints ties likes an Ohio State guy.
While Atlanta has a few weeks to decide if it wants to extend Okudah the fifth-year option, this trade may end up shaping the Falcons’ draft plans even more than we think.
It should be noted that this fifth-round pick going Detroit’s way stems from the Falcons’ trade deadline deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars involving their former No. 1 wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
By trading for a cornerback of Okudah’s pedigree, that means Atlanta is probably not going to draft either Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon or Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois at No. 8. This probably means the Falcons are going to draft a defensive-front seven player, or potentially be in the Bijan Robinson business. They don’t need a running back, but Arthur Smith likes to run the ball.
Let’s discuss what this trade means for the Falcons heading into the draft at the end of the month.
Jeff Okudah trade may reveal Atlanta Falcons’ draft plans with No. 8 overall pick
There is a lot to unpack here, but I think what this trade signifies is Atlanta is not likely to move up in the draft. The Falcons could move back though, especially if they like a defensive player outside of the top 10 or think Robinson’s draft stock could fall. Then again, I think the Philadelphia Eagles will take him at No. 10, as long as Jalen Carter does not fall down to them. Don’t let that happen…
So who are we looking at with the No. 8 pick now defensively? Potentially Carter, but don’t count on it. I have a feeling his Georgia teammate Nolan Smith would go to the Falcons over him. Keep an eye on other edge rushers like Myles Murphy out of Clemson and Tyree Wilson out of Texas Tech. Lukas Van Ness out of Iowa may be up for discussion as well. Front-seven feels like the pick.
However, the Robinson itch in the back of our minds is one that feels too enticing not to scratch. This time last year, people were starting to come around to the idea of drafting a wide receiver. The Drake London pick was panned by a lot of pundits, but the USC product had a strong rookie season in Atlanta nonetheless. Just imagine a Falcons backfield with Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.
Ultimately, I think Atlanta has done enough work in the back-end of its defense in the offseason to shift its focus in the draft to a player in the front-seven, or better yet, the best player available. That might be Robinson. Let’s just hope it’s not a quarterback. Going with Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke makes sense. If Atlanta stinks, go draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye next spring.
Expect for the Falcons to address the always underwhelming pass rush with the No. 8 overall pick.