Receiver-needy Falcons meet with top names at NFL scouting combine

INDIANAPOLIS — The Falcons are firmly in the receiver market, and they’ve spoken with some of the top names at the NFL scouting combine.

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The team met with Alabama speedster Jameson Williams and USC receiver Drake London, according to the players. While both receivers could be first-round picks, they’re two totally different types. Williams is a burner, as he illustrated throughout the season but especially in the SEC Championship game, when he torched Georgia’s vaunted defense for 184 yards and two scores.

Williams suffered an ACL tear in the College Football Playoff Championship game rematch against Georgia in January, which has clouded his draft projection and made a once-inconceivable drop to the second round at least somewhat possible. The Falcons, drafting No. 8, could trade back and take Williams. But it’s unlikely he makes it to their second selection at No. 43. He said his meeting with the Falcons went “very well.”

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London, meanwhile, is a big-body receiver who wins jump balls. He’s a physical specimen whose draft projection has varied from the top 10 to the second round. London would give the Falcons a potential top-tier receiver to pair with tight end Kyle Pitts. They would provide a dynamic red-zone duo for the foreseeable future.

While many will argue against the Falcons taking a receiver in the first round, especially with such a deep group of prospects, no one would deny it’s a primary need on a team with multiple holes. There are several receivers projected in the middle of the first round, though it’s debated whether any of them are top-10-caliber players. The middle rounds are loaded with different types of wideouts.

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The Falcons’ receiving situation: Russell Gage, who was second on the team in receiving last season, is a free agent. Calvin Ridley played in five games before leaving the team to “focus on his mental well-being.” The sides seem destined to part ways, with Ridley perhaps netting the Falcons a Day 2 pick from another team. Do-it-all Cordarrelle Patterson, the team’s third-leading receiver and top rusher, is a free agent.

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The Falcons’ cap situation is messy, and while they’ll maneuver the cap as every team does, they won’t have the resources to address their needs with pricy free agents. They’ll search the bargain bin and draft for receiver help. And with two second-round picks and more draft capital potentially coming in a Ridley deal, the Falcons are well-equipped to take advantage of the receiver depth and diversity in this class.

The NFL draft begins April 28. The Falcons currently have eight selections, according to the team.