Round 1, Pick 8: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
When I was on the clock for my first pick, I realized that many of the pass rush prospects, such as Vic Beasley and Shane Ray, were off the board. I went with the best pass rusher available in Randy Gregory. As stated in our previous Mock, Gregory’s game compares to the likes of Chandler Jones and Aldon Smith. He immediately fills Atlanta’s biggest need. Gregory did fail a drug test at the NFL Combine, and his draft stock has taken a bit of a hit. Nevertheless, the talent is too great to ignore, as well as the fit. Gregory would be a great fit at the “Leo” linebacker position that Dan Quinn utilized Bruce Irvin in during his time in Seattle. During his college career at Nebraska, Gregory had 17.5 sacks in two seasons. Many believe he needs to put on more weight to compete in the NFL, but his explosiveness and technique make him an elite option for the Falcons. Gregory can apply pressure to the QB any given down, and as long as the Falcons don’t see his marijuana issue as a red flag he is the best option for them 8th overall.
Round 2, 42nd Overall: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
When you watch Maxx Williams’ game tape, it’s hard to ignore that he has Gronk-like catching ability. 82% of his catches last season were for a first-down or a touchdown. While the Falcons have one of the most explosive offenses in the league, adding Williams could give them an incredible red-zone threat and offer the team the stability at Tight End that they have needed since they lost Tony Gonzalez. At 6’4”, 250 Lbs, Williams has the size that teams salivate over. He caught 8 touchdowns last season, and is an adequate blocker with room for improvement. Williams is the top Tight End in this year’s class, and if he can contribute immediately, Matt Ryan will have the best offensive weapons in the league at his disposal.
Round 3, 73rd Overall: Tre Jackson, OG, Florida State
A Georgia boy, Tre Jackson is an intriguing Guard prospect out of Florida State. Jackson undoubtedly has the size at 6’4”, 330 lbs, but what makes him a great pick for the Falcons is his quickness. Kyle Shanahan has revealed that the Falcons will use a Zone Blocking Scheme next season, which relies on quickness as much as strength. With Justin Blalock being cut, drafting Jackson fills an immediate need and would be a big step towards offering Matt Ryan some stability behind his offensive line. It will take Jackson some time to adjust to new technique, but he is one of the top Guards in his class and would be a great pick for the Falcons in the 3rd Round.
Round 4, 107th Overall: Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
Ajayi is the running back the Falcons have needed for a while now. He is a power runner that reads blocks and finds holes. This patience in waiting for the right block is what makes a running back in the ZBS Shanahan is bringing to Atlanta. Not only can he run with the ball, he is a great pass catching back as well. He is the only FBS player to run for over 1800 yards and received for over 500 yards. He could be a scary good weapon for Matt Ryan as long as he can improve his pass protection. He’s not the fastest back in the draft by any means, but he has a unique skillset that could be a great fit for the Falcons offense.
Round 5, 146th Overall: Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
Holliman is a ball hawk, as evidenced by his 14 interceptions last season as a redshirt Junior. That is absurd. This landed Holliman the 2014 Jim Thorpe Award over the likes of Landon Collins and Ifo Epkre-Olomu. People have knocked Holliman for his tackling technique, but he is clearly a playmaker and great value in the 5th. He has great hands, agility and awareness. He could team up with William Moore for a dynamic Safety tandem if his ball hawking ability translates over to the NFL. If NFL coaches can work with Holliman on his tackling angles, he has the tools to be a starter in this league for years to come.
Round 6, 185th Overall: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
If not for inconsistent quarterback play and an abundance of injuries, Stefon Diggs is a first-round talent. Coming out of high school, Diggs had offers to play all over the country but stayed local, attending the University of Maryland. During his time at Maryland, the QB position was a rotating door. However, he did nab 2227 receiving yards and 14 TDs during his 28 games at Maryland. Diggs is the kind of guy that once you get him in open space, defenders are in serious trouble. Diggs also possesses great returning ability, and having him learn under the likes of Devin Hester could turn him into a dynamic return man. Diggs could immediately compete for the number 3 WR spot, and I believe he is by far the best player left on the board in the 6th as long as he can stay healthy.
Round 7, 225th Overall: Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee
The Falcons are looking to solidify nickel corner on their roster, and Justin Coleman can definitely offer competition for that position. Hailing from Brunswick, GA, Coleman played nickel corner for Tennessee and spent a lot of time in the slot due to his tackling ability. Coleman plays with grit and will definitely contribute on special teams as well. He may struggle in man coverage and lack size, but no 7th round pick is perfect and if he can contribute to the team his rookie season than this is a great pick. Dan Quinn would love the tenacity this kid plays with. Coleman had 42 tackles and 4 interceptions during his senior year at Tennessee.
Round 7, 249th Overall: Xavier Williams, DT, Northern Iowa
Like Coleman, Williams is a guy who can at least contribute to the team on special teams his rookie season. He had 8 blocked kicks in college. The guy has great footwork and speed for a guy his size (6’2”. 320 LBS). He has the versatility to fit many different types of schemes. Coming from an FCS school, it would take Williams extended time to adjust to a much higher level of competition. However, if he can develop his pass rushing moves and have NFL coaches work with him on his hand technique, Williams could have a decent NFL career.