Falcons Address Pass Rush in ESPN's Too-Early NFL Mock Draft

It's never too early to begin planning for the NFL Draft, and ESPN has the Atlanta Falcons going with an Ohio State edge rusher in 2025.
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end JT Tuimoloau has already been mocked to the Atlanta Falcons by ESPN
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end JT Tuimoloau has already been mocked to the Atlanta Falcons by ESPN / Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons were almost unanimously mocked in the previous cycle with Alabama Crimson Tide edge rusher Dallas Turner. They surprised nearly everyone when they bypassed a position player for quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick.

The Falcons did address the edge position in the third round with former Washington Huskies star Bralen Trice, but until proven otherwise, it remains the team's biggest need.

So it should be no surprise that ESPN's early 2025 NFL Mock Draft has the Atlanta Falcons still selecting an edge rusher.

ESPN used their Power Index to set the draft order, and the Falcons took Ohio State Buckeyes edge JT Tuimoloau with the No. 22 pick in their 2025 mock.

"The Falcons finished 32nd in the league in pass rush win rate last season (30.9%) and then didn't make any additions at outside linebacker until the third round of the draft," Matt Miller wrote on ESPN+. "Tuimoloau, who displays some special footwork, is poised for a big season as a senior after posting five sacks last year. If he can string together more consistent performances in 2024, the 270-pound rusher could soar up the board."

At 270 pounds, Tuimoloau doesn't necessarily profile as an edge. He's closer to the mold of his former teammate Zach Harrison who finished the season strong last year. He's also closer to Falcons' fourth-round pick Brandon Dorlus who measured 6'3 and 283 pounds at the NFL Combine, than he is 2022 second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie at 6'2 and 250 pounds at the same event.

The top NFL Draft prospects will obviously change over the course of the next year. Still, it's interesting to see who to consider watching this fall if the Falcons are picking in the bottom third of the draft instead of the Arthur Smith commemorative No. 8 spot.

Edge rusher Mykel Williams of the Georgia Bulldogs goes No. 17 to the Chicago Bears, and Texas A&M's Nic Scourton goes No. 26 to the Buffalo Bills. Between those picks are mostly interior linemen and quarterbacks, which shouldn't be a priority for the Falcons after they addressed those long-term needs in the 2024 NFL Draft.

It feels like déjà vu all over again with the Falcons being linked to an edge rusher this early in the process. But with quarterback addressed, it's the team's biggest need until it isn't. Ebiketie and Trice have an opportunity in 2024 to give the Falcons the luxury of focusing on another position in the first round.

Scott Kennedy