Atlanta doesn’t even have a general manager right now, so I’ll be doing my civic duty and taking over that role. Fans are pretty divided on what to do this offseason, and while trades are all but sure to happen, these will be similar to the in-season mock drafts I did. The first one is chalk, the second is a trade down, and the third is a trade up. If you wanna check out the older mocks and some prospects that I like, you can find these here. Who knows who the coach will be, but I’ve made it clear I want to move to a 3-4 so I’m drafting for that scheme.
R1, Pick 4: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
I really wrestled with this pick for a while. I could see the board going:
- Wilson (Trade up with Miami)
Miami is the key player here. Someone could trade up for Zach Wilson or Justin Fields, and it seems almost inevitable that Miami deals the third pick for a massive haul. They could also take Sewell, but they just took Austin Jackson in the first round of the 2020 draft. Now rumors are swirling around Deshaun Watson and the 4th pick going back to the Texans.
Personally, I’d like to trade down from the #4 pick, but that will be the M.O. in my next mock draft. I chose Sewell for a few reasons. I absolutely love Zach Wilson, I think he’ll be a great quarterback. Justin Fields could develop nicely under Matt Ryan. However, Penei Sewell is so talented at such a young age and I’ve already done Wilson in another mock. I think he will be a franchise’s cornerstone for 15 years and is the best non-quarterback in the draft. The offensive line has been a huge need for almost all of Matt Ryan‘s tenure in Atlanta. Sewell has tons of flexibility at guard as well, but the pick also gives Atlanta options to move Jake Matthews around or move his contract. Drafting Sewell at 4 to play guard would be unwise. Atlanta was at their best when they could run the football and protect Matt Ryan. I’ve already talked about how O-Line will be a need in the draft. This is simply taking the best player available at a premium position.
Sewell, individually, is nothing short of a monster. He is mean as hell in the run game and is rarely beat in pass protection. His technique is a bit raw, so whoever Atlanta brings in to be the offensive line coach will be one of the most important hires on the staff. It’s crazy to think that he’s as dominant as he is with room to improve technically. If Arthur Smith is brought in, he could bring a lot of attitude to Atlanta’s run game and allow Sewell to thrive. Adding a plug and play left tackle, *possibly* kicking Jake Matthews to left guard, and continuing to progress franchise right guard Chris Lindstrom would go a long way in getting Atlanta’s offense back to Super Bowl-caliber — especially in the possible wake of losing Alex Mack.
Keep your eye on the left tackle — and watch how quickly he turns the end like a steering wheel and uses him to whipe out an LB. oofta!
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) May 8, 2020
R2, Pick 35: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
This was even tougher than the first-round pick. I want to trade back so badly because I love so many of these third round prospects, especially the safeties and EDGEs. Gotta stick to chalk.
I have to go with a game changer at running back. Dirk Koetter is the biggest part of the problem, but all three of Atlanta’s running backs ranked in the bottom 10 for PFF grades. I like Ito Smith as a change of pace back, but Najee Harris can do everything. He is an absolute freak athlete and punishing runner, something Atlanta has been missing since prime Devonta Freeman. Using a high pick on a running back is a gamble, there’s sure to be gems elsewhere, but Najee is way too good to pass up here for me if he’s available. If the top two backs are gone, you pivot to the best defensive player available or maybe even Brevin Jordan.
GET UP NAJEE HARRIS
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 1, 2021
R3, Pick 68: EDGE Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh
I promise we’re going defense from here on out. I talked about how thin the front 7 may look in a new 3-4, so getting plenty of speedy pass rushers in this draft will be paramount. Jones is the first, but he will not be the last. At 6’5 and 260, he has the prototypical size for an EDGE. He’s tenacious when rushing the passer and he had a lot of success containing scrambling ACC quarterbacks. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2019, Jones has amassed 17.5 sacks. While he profiles best in a 4-3, I could see him playing as a Brian Burns or Von Miller type role in a 3-4. He’s a guy that has found success with what works, so diversifying his plan of attack (like most college edge rushers) will be key for his development. Atlanta may have to move on this guy in the second-round, because he’s a draft dandy that I think will garner plenty of interest. For now, he’s the easiest pick of this draft if available here.
Sack Numero Uno for Patrick Jones II follows the same script as the two rushes above. Explosion. Dip. Penetrate the pocket and execute. Got a bit chippy and went for the strip at first, but he finished strong! #WNSFilm #NFLDraft #H2P pic.twitter.com/zTe0LMvRGe
— Josh Engler (@EnglerNFL) November 6, 2019
Pitt EDGE Patrick Jones had a huge day today against Louisville. 3 sacks on the day. Jones' rare blend of power, length, explosiveness, and flexibility makes him a potential first-round prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/a9NzjT0zm1
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) September 26, 2020
R4, Pick 99: S Jevon Holland, Oregon
I’m WAY higher on Jevon Holland than a fourth-round selection, but TDN’s Big Board (which is what I use) has him going mid-80s. I think he’s a steal at this point, and I would trade up for him (or use the picks acquired by trading down) to snag him if I was Atlanta. Holland is a versatile chess piece, he reminds me a lot of a guy I liked in last year’s draft — Antoine Winfield Jr. He’s a great athlete that plays both safety positions, nickel corner, and a little bit on the boundary. His big knock is that he’s pretty solid in all areas but doesn’t excel at any… like Antoine Winfield Jr. He has some serious ball skills, and this Falcons defense needs help creating turnovers. He’s your potential Keanu Neal or Ricardo Allen replacement if he is cut.
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 13, 2020
Jevon Holland's two-year PFF coverage grade from the slot is the best in College Football. pic.twitter.com/IGjXMdHbxO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 11, 2020
R5, Pick 132: EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
I’ve profiled Johnson before, and the 2nd Patrick is still my draft crush and will be until further notice. EDGE, EDGE, and more EDGE.
Like with Victor Dimukeje in my previous drafts, I love a lot about Patrick Johnson. I had no idea he went to high school about 20 minutes away from me until now, so I swear this isn’t a homer pick. As you’ll see below, Patrick Johnson is no one trick pony. He’s technically sound and comes with a plan to get to the quarterback. Like Collins, he’s another chess piece that Willie Fritz uses all over his defense. He doesn’t really have that coveted NFL “length”, and not to compare the two, but neither did Aaron Donald. Johnson would be a fantastic pick at R4, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he shot up boards after the combine. Atlanta needs more than 1 EDGE, and Johnson is a steal here — he’s got 10 sacks this year and is tied for 1st in the FBS.
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) September 13, 2020
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) October 17, 2020
Projected Compensation Pick: LB Baron Browning, Ohio State
I pondered another former 5-Star in Xavier Thomas here, but he may be available even past this point. Browning is rawer but with a little more potential, so he gets the nod. The former top ten recruit never really made his mark at Ohio State, but the intangibles are there. He’s a physical freak that did get to the quarterback five times in 2019, but he never got it going in 2020. He’s a big-time boom or bust prospect, but he could provide valuable depth as a cheap developmental project. With little to nothing depthwise at linebacker, he profiles as a WILL linebacker and a situational pass rusher with some potential to stick at MIKE. He’s my thumper in my new 3-4.
— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) October 6, 2019