ESPN's Adam Schefter Hints at Surprise Pick for Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have been linked to an edge rusher for months at No. 8 in the NFL Draft.
Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II
Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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As the 2024 NFL Draft nears, the Atlanta Falcons’ plans continue to grow less and less clear.

Conversely, one notion has grown evident: the Falcons are fond of former Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Byron Murphy II.

First reported by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah as a player who shouldn’t be ruled out, smoke has been added to the fire in the lead-up to Thursday.

"One of the things that's been kicked around - the name that, if you asked me who the surprise top ten pick is or somebody we just didn't see coming, to me that's Byron Murphy," Jeremiah said last week in a conference call with reporters.

Murphy has a “realistic chance” of being the first defensive player drafted, several league executives told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with the Falcons being a potential landing spot.

“It's possible a defender might not be picked until Atlanta at No. 8 or Chicago at No. 9. Murphy could be a consideration for both teams,” Schefter wrote on ESPN+. “Murphy, who had five sacks last season, is talented, plays a coveted position and has gotten clean character reports.

“He might interest new Falcons coach Raheem Morris, who had Aaron Donald dominate at that position when he was the coordinator in Los Angeles.”

Atlanta doesn’t have Donald, but it does have Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata, who combined for 5.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 24 quarterback hits across 22 games.

Jarrett and Onyemata are widely viewed as one of the best defensive tackle duos in the league, and they’re paid as such, totaling a cap hit of almost $33 million, according to OverTheCap. Jarrett is Atlanta’s third highest-paid player while Onyemata comes in at No. 6.

But Murphy also may just be too good for the Falcons to pass.

The 6-1, 297-pound Murphy was a steady three-year contributor for the Longhorns, capped by earning second-team All-American honors this past season.

Starting all 14 games in the middle of Texas' defense, Murphy was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection en route to winning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Murphy, a native of DeSoto, Texas, set career-highs with 29 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and seven quarterback hurries this past season.

Atlanta has a glaring need for pass rushing help, particularly on the edge. Both general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris have said they’ll be prioritizing adding pass rushers, presumably in the draft.

It’s possible Murphy ultimately gets the nod – but if he does, the Falcons’ long-standing question of generating outside pass rush will live to last at least one more day.

Daniel Flick


Daniel Flick is an accredited NFL writer for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. Daniel has provided boots-on-ground coverage at the NFL Combine and from the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters, among other destinations, and contributed to the annual Lindy's Sports Magazine ahead of the 2023 offseason. Daniel is a co-host on the 404TheFalcon podcast and previously wrote for the Around the Block Network and Georgia Sports Hospitality Media.