With needs almost everywhere, who’s the most likely pick at No. 8 for Atlanta Falcons?

Atlanta Falcons

And that’s probably a good thing, as the Falcons lack talent at almost every position, save for a few notable exceptions.

So what would a “best player available” draft look like?

Here’s a glimpse of what the Falcons might do with its first six picks:

Round 1

Breaking down the options

You can pencil in Marcus Mariota as the starter at quarterback, regardless of whether Atlanta drafts a QB in rounds 1 or 2. Mariota, though, likely isn’t the long-term answer at the position despite his status as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Just don’t count on Atlanta drafting Matt Ryan’s replacement with the No. 8 pick.

Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson appears to be a lock at this point to go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville, while Carolina seems to be leaning toward taking a QB with the No. 6 pick.

That takes care of two picks.

That leaves Georgia edge Travon Walker, Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, Alabama tackle Evan Neal, North Carolina tackle Ikem Ekwonu and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley as the best players available.

The best-case-scenario is either Thibodeaux or Walker falling to Atlanta, since both players would be an immediate upgrade over 2021 fifth-rounder Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Lorenzo Carter, who led the team with five sacks.

But Walker has seen his stock soar since the Combine and could be a top-5 pick. Either Neal or Ekwonu could be available, too, but Atlanta already has Jake Matthews at left tackle and Kaleb McGary at right tackle, plus there are several teams ahead of Atlanta who need a tackle.

Could Hamilton be the pick? He certainly might be available after running a 4.7-second 40 at his Pro Day. Since then, some draft analysts have pegged Michigan safety Daxton Hill as the top safety in this draft. Either way, it’s hard to see Atlanta drafting either player in the first round.

That leaves cornerbacks Gardner and Stingley as the most likely players to fall to the Falcons. The two New York teams both could use a cornerback, so cross off Gardner.

That leaves Atlanta with Stingley as the most likely player who’s still available.

Would that be a wise pick?

The pick: LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.

On the one hand, Stingley would pair with 2019 first-rounder A.J. Terrell to give the Falcons one of the top young CB duos in the league.

With that said, Stingley has seen his stock fluctuate in recent weeks, as the 6-foot, 190-pound junior missed 10 games the past two years after his breakout freshman season in which he played all 15 games for the national champions. Stingley put to rest some of the doubts, though, at LSU’s Pro Day, when he ran a 4.44-second 40 and had a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump.

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