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With the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of a rebuild, it’s never too early to look at a 2023 mock draft.

In The Athletic’s most recent mock draft, it based the order on projected win totals. Those projections had Atlanta picking third overall.

Picking that early could prompt questions about general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith’s job security. The other elephant in the room would be quarterback Desmond Ridder’s future with the franchise.

If the season were to culminate in Atlanta having the third pick, one would believe Ridder had a chance to prove if he’s indeed the answer under center. Should Ridder flash, it’d give the Falcons a chance to draft the best player available or even trade down with a team that needs a QB to accumulate much-needed draft capital.

In this scenario, Atlanta went with Jalen Carter, a junior defensive tackle out of the University of Georgia.

One could easily argue that you can’t go wrong with taking a defensive player from Georgia after the university produced five first-round picks in the 2022 draft. Two of those picks were defensive tackles Jordan Davis who went 13th to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Devonte Wyatt, who was picked 28th overall by the Green Bay Packers.

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Despite sharing playing time with the two first-round picks, Carter did more than hold his own, producing 37 total tackles and three sacks in the 2021 season.

“The Falcons would love nothing more than to have Ridder take off so they wouldn’t have to worry about where they land in another QB derby next spring,” The Athletic said. “If that happens and Atlanta has a chance to take arguably the best defensive lineman on Georgia’s historic 2021 national title defense (you read that correctly), then general manager Terry Fontenot can send in this pick without blinking.”

While taking a defensive tackle third overall is far from the sexiest pick, a breakout 2022 season from Carter would silence those conversations. Carter could play alongside and one day usurps an aging Grady Jarrett in the middle of Atlanta’s defensive line.

Should Ridder do enough to convince the Falcons brass they can pass on a QB, they can do far worse than taking a player of Carter’s caliber. 

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