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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Will Falcons Take Pass Rusher or Franchise QB?

Will the Falcons stick with Desmond Ridder, or draft another quarterback?

While the 2022 NFL Draft just wrapped up two months ago and the recently-drafted rookies have yet to start training camp, teams and draft media are already looking ahead to next year's draft.

As such, ESPN released its new 2023 projections, with the Atlanta Falcons selecting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with the No. 5 overall pick.

The first quarterback comes off the board later than expected based on the draft order here, and remember that I'm not projecting trades in this mock draft. Make no mistake, though: Stroud is worthy of the No. 1 pick. The second-year starter battled through early adversity last season before finishing with a dominant win over Utah in the Rose Bowl; he had 573 passing yards and six touchdowns.

Stroud has ideal size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and a huge arm that opens up defenses. NFL scouts want to see him use his legs more, but Stroud's trajectory points to him being an early pick. - ESPN's Matt Miller

Stroud is largely considered one of the top quarterbacks in the class, along with Alabama's Bryce Young, who won the Heisman Trophy last season.

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The question that needs to be answered before this pick relates to 2022 third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder and his long-term fit in Atlanta. While Ridder likely won't start the full season, it is probable that he gets a chance to prove himself towards the end of the year.

For the Falcons, Ridder's situation is simple: if he proves he's the solution, roll with him. However, if there's a shadow of doubt, the team shouldn't let a third-round pick prevent them from taking an elite prospect.

The only true answer to the question is time. With 10 months until the 2023 NFL Draft, much of this will sort itself out. Until then, the Falcons will be left to wonder what their future holds at the quarterback position.