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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Atlanta Falcons acquire cornerback

With the 8th overall pick in the 2023 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Atlanta Falcons GM Kephas selects ...

Washington v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The 2023 NFC South is a strip mall whose anchor store didn’t renew its lease, and developers are quickly trying to add new options:

New Orleans Saints - putting in a Jersey Mike’s instead of the old Subway that was there before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - long-time, award-winning boutique Health & Fitness center finally closed and they’re replacing it with a Bakery.

Carolina Panthers - an old electronics repair shop, featuring a Zenith TV sign out front, finally making the leap and pivoting to selling in-home theater equipment, although it might be too small.

And, finally, your Atlanta Falcons are that brewery that you should check out.

Because the 2023 Atlanta Falcons, while not guaranteed to be good, at least present some intrigue:

  • Even if he’s not the best QB in the division, Desmond Ridder could be the most interesting QB in the division (depending on who Carolina drafts), if for no other reason than he’s still mostly unknown after getting a Hurts-ian rookie year experience. Note: with the Falcons declaring Ridder the starting QB in 2023, this also likely removes them from drafting a QB in the 1st Round, depending on how the board plays out.
  • The Falcons had a meh roster in 2022, and yet still went 7-10 with wins over the Seahawks, Browns, Bucs, and 49ers. They’re getting some players back healthy along with signing several Free Agents, including players like Jessie Bates (S) and Calais Campbell (DE).
  • Offensively, they’ve got a young skill group, including Ridder, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Tyler Algeier (who, somewhat surprising to me, started only 7 games but ran for over 1,000 yds at 4.9 yds/carry).. This is a team whose offense could be on the up & up with Arthur Smith dialing up the plays.

Which is all to say: the Atlanta Falcons go into the draft with needs, but have put themselves in a position where they can (and should) take the BPA.

So with that said, I consulted my Big Big Board:

When I considered needs and fits, I went into the exercise thinking that EDGE, CB, and Offensive Line would be the best use of the #8 overall pick for this team.

However, once Tyree Wilson went off the board, the next group of EDGE rushers felt like a reach at #8, which left me to decide between an OT (Peter Skoronski) or either Devon Witherspoon or Christian Gonzalez at CB (and separated by less than 1 average ranking, I considered them essentially even). I ultimately decided that spending the #8 pick on a starting CB was a better use of resources than a player who would likely be at Guard for the foreseeable future (Jake Matthews is entrenched at LT and Kaleb McGary just signed to a $34M deal at RT), so it came down to Christian Gonzalez vs Devon Witherspoon.

Spoiler: I chose Christian Gonzalez. Why?

  1. The Tools - I went for the traits. Gonzalez is tall (6’ 1”), fast (4.38 40yd dash) and Lance Zierlein describes him as an “explosive outside cornerback possessing a rare blend of physical and athletic traits.” In short, all things that will translate well at the next level - and this, in my mind, is what lifted him over Devon Witherspoon.
  2. The Production - Again, per Zierlein: “He was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick after leading Oregon with four interceptions and seven pass breakups, posting 50 tackles and blocking a kick in 12 starts.” So he can also block kicks. Boom.
  3. The Team Fit - Gonzalez would step in as the #8 overall pick…and still be CB2 on this team behind star CB AJ Terrell. Suddenly, between Terrell, Gonzalez, Casey Hayward, and safeties Jessie Bates & Ritchie Grant, the Falcons would be boasting a pretty formidable secondary, a far cry from the 2022 squad who gave up 7 yards per pass attempt in 2022 (t-4th worst).
  4. The 0 jersey - say no more.

[shuffles papers] And now to some highlights.

I mentioned his traits, but his read on plays like this is exceptional as well:

You could argue this is a poor throw (it’s not great) but I think still showcases Gonzalez’ athleticism to pluck this out of the air for the interception:

At the same time, he’s not afraid to come up in run support:

And when he’s not in open space, can still shed a block and make a goal-line tackle:

So, to wrap things up, if Christian Gonzalez is the pick, the Falcons should be excited for the future of their secondary. He’s thought by multiple outlets to be the best of what appears to be a relatively deep CB class, and you could do much worse than walk away from the first round with the top CB in the draft.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out your local breweries.


Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    (337 votes)
  • 11%
    (42 votes)
379 votes total Vote Now

2023 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington)
10) Eagles (Philly21)
11) Titans (RachAttack)
12) Texans (Domonate)
13) Jets (JawnJam)
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion)
15) Packers (bdawk4ever)
16) Commanders (the dog did it)
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen)
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (dkays)
25) Giants (roberticus01)
26) Cowboys (EHyungNim)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)

Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.


Who should the Falcons draft at No. 8 overall?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    CB Christian Gonzalez
    (129 votes)
  • 14%
    CB Devon Witherspoon
    (32 votes)
  • 6%
    RB Bijan Robinson
    (15 votes)
  • 9%
    DE Nolan Smith
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    DE Lukas Van Ness
    (6 votes)
  • 8%
    DE Myles Murphy
    (18 votes)
221 votes total Vote Now

1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons:

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