Lots of fans (myself included) are very eager to trade down. This team has a lot of holes, and while a quarterback of the future would be nice — he won’t make Atlanta a competitive team overnight. As usual, I’m drafting for a 3-4 defense that I’ve been advocating for. Check out my pieces on Atlanta’s linebacker trio coming into form and some cut candidates to see what I’m focusing on.
Falcons Get: Pick 12, Pick 43, Pick 108, Future 1st Round Pick
49ers Get: Pick 4
Double Trade Down!
Falcons Get: Pick 21, Pick 33, Pick 45
Jaguars Get: Pick 12, Pick 132, Future Pick
Talk about a haul. First-round picks in a deep draft will be at a premium. I borrowed the concept of the first trade from TDN, and the second one seems fair. It’s a mock draft, have a little fun. Jacksonville and San Francisco could both be aggressive players in this draft. The Jags need to protect Trevor Lawrence and help the defense. Kyle Shanahan can get his quarterback of the future. Atlanta now owns eight picks in the Top 100 just like that. They also get a little extra future capital from San Francisco. This was my previous offseason Mock Draft with no trades, which I seriously doubt will be the case.
R1, Pick 21: IDL Christian Barmore, Alabama
Barmore’s draft stock is all over the place, and a team only missing a few pieces on defense could jump on him earlier than this. It would be wise because he is a monster. I actually wrote this before he won defensive MVP in the National Championship, which may launch him into the Top 15. Like most Alabama prospects, he’s built like a brick wall. He gobbles up double teams with his combination of size and speed and would pair perfectly next to Grady Jarrett in a 3-4 — you can’t double team both of these guys. While his pass rush is impressive, he’s no slouch in the run game either. Atlanta’s defense keeps getting better.
R2, Pick 33: G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
This is usually my Najee Harris spot, but I figured I’d mix it up. I wouldn’t shed a single tear if he’s the pick. However, here’s your James Carpenter upgrade. Matt Hennessy had a rough go in his limited action, but he flip-flopped from center to guard and had almost no offseason. I expect him to improve. With Creed Humphrey and Wyatt Davis likely off the board, Vera-Tucker is an easy choice. I would also be good with Landon Dickerson at a later pick and taking Najee here because Alijah Vera-Tucker has R1 talent. His position not being a premium could push him to the 2nd round.
Vera-Tucker often serves as a left tackle for USC, but he’s destined to play guard in the NFL. He’s easily the best left guard in the class, along with Wyatt Davis. Vera-Tucker and Chris Lindstrom is the guard tandem for the next five to ten years easily. The interior of Atlanta’s O-Line has been a problem for a while, and this is a unit that needs a lot of help. McGary had a hot start before a bad end to 2020. Alex Mack is likely gone, unfortunately. Jake Matthews is still solid. Vera-Tucker is a big piece to solidify Matt Ryan’s pocket — especially if Matt Hennessy turns around a poor rookie season.
R2, Pick 35: EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
This is typically my Zaven Collins spot, but once again, I’ll mix it up a bit. EDGE, EDGE, and more EDGE. Spoiler alert — I’m not done. I think Phillips would thrive in my new 3-4. The former number one overall high-school recruit is a UCLA transfer, and his tape out of Miami is very appealing. I think playing alongside Grady Jarrett and Christian Barmore will help him tremendously; the sky’s the limit for a 6’5 265-pound bruiser.
R2, Pick 43: EDGE Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh
I’ll recycle my bio of Jones from my last mock. I love this kid, and he may need to be taken earlier than this. He’s the final piece to my defensive front that just got a lot scarier.
At 6’5 and 260 pounds, Jones has the prototypical size for an EDGE. He’s tenacious when rushing the passer, and he had a lot of success in 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.
R2, Pick 45: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina
Running back will have to be addressed at some point. Ito Smith and Brian Hill are good change of pace backs, but Atlanta needs a bruiser. Todd Gurley returning is out of the question. Hopefully, with a new OC who isn’t allergic to running the ball, Atlanta makes some big strides. Javonte Williams could be a big-time sleeper. He provides a lot of what Atlanta has been missing for a while, catching the ball well out of the backfield and is pretty stout in pass protection. He is a punishing runner that will make defenders pay for meeting him in the hole. Alongside Ito Smith, you get a 1-2 power and finesse punch that Atlanta hasn’t seen since Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
R3, Pick 68: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
At first, I really wrestled between two guys who tanked their draft stocks in 2021. I’m well aware Tyson Campbell is getting a little first-round love, but I don’t buy it. Shaun Wade is an exceptional nickel corner that is a liability on the boundary. Both guys really only do one thing. So naturally, I landed on Stanford’s Paulson Adebo.
Adebo sat out in 2020, but he showed me enough in 2019 to warrant this selection. I’m willing to give Isaiah Oliver one more season before I pull the plug, and AJ Terrell was fantastic outside of the last three weeks in his rookie season. Adebo has plus athleticism, but his ball skills are what really impress me — demonstrated by his eight INTs in two seasons. I think the pass rush will improve the secondary in general, but even if Isaiah Oliver doesn’t make strides this year, Atlanta has a young and talented cornerback duo going forward. We aren’t done addressing the secondary (or the defense, for that matter).
R3, Pick 82: S Paris Ford, Pittsburgh
Have to grab a safety at this point. Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, and Ricardo Allen’s futures are all cloudy. I fully expect Atlanta to double up in the later rounds in a deep class. Jaylinn Hawkins hasn’t seen the field much, but I expect a healthy dose of him in 2021 and maybe a free agent band-aid signing. Paris Ford is a potential Keanu Neal replacement.
Ford can lay the wood at 5’11, and with his 4.4 speed, he’s a threat all over the field. He’s got that sparkplug attitude, which can lead to over pursuit, but I like the intensity he brings to the game. Before he opted out of the 2020 season, Ford notched six picks and three forced fumbles over the past two seasons.
R4, Pick 99: IDL Marvin Wilson, Florida State
It kills me not to pick Patrick Johnson of Tulane here, but this was shocking. I use TDN, and they currently have Marvin Wilson ranked in the early 100s. This is the time when you take a gamble on that type of upside. I don’t care that I’m creating a logjam on the defensive front; there are way too many holes to put all of the team’s eggs in one basket. Marvin Wilson was projected in the Top 10 of the draft early on for a reason — he creates incredible amounts of pressure up the middle. He was a guy who “disappeared” at times for Florida State, but he was on a bad team, commanding tons of double teams. Wilson has the athleticism and frame to fit into any defensive scheme, and I think him falling this late is ludicrous.
R5, Pick 108: S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
Doubling up on safety now. I think Ar’Darius Washington is tremendously valuable at this point, especially since his teammate Trevon Moehrig is long gone by now. The fiery Washington plays much tougher than his 5’8 frame would indicate, and I’m not scared off by his size. At worst, he could be a nickel corner — another position that needs help. His instincts are as good as you’ll find for a player this late in the draft — he snagged five total INTs in 2019. Washington is going to have to put on some muscle if he wants to compete in the NFL with limited height, but I loved another safety in the last class that was knocked for not being tall… 5’9 rookie sensation Antoine Winfield Jr.
Projected Compensation Pick: ILB Monty Rice, Georgia
I told you I’d get my thumper. Monty Rice hasn’t gotten a ton of draft love so far, but he’s been a leader on a very good UGA defense. He doesn’t have great size for the position, but his instincts and athleticism are off the charts. Putting Rice up the middle to clean up the run with some new EDGE rushers completes a 3-4 look for the Falcons that I think will be better for the team.