R1 Pick 14: OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
This is a dream scenario for Atlanta if Brian Burns, Ed Oliver and Montez Sweat have been picked already, which is likely with the premium placed on Edge Rushers in today’s NFL and Oliver’s unique ability. It seems the front office (for some reason) is sticking with Vic Beasley for now, so the next most pressing matter is keeping Matt Ryan upright. Jonah Williams has one of the best resumés in the entire draft of any player. A starter since day 1 for Nick Saban, he began at Right Tackle before moving to Left for the rest of his career. A three time all american and all-SEC selection, Williams has the pedigree and athleticism to play almost any position on the offensive line. If Ty Sambrailo slides inside, he’ll be a premier Right Tackle. If Sambrailo stays where he is, he’s a day one Zack Martin level guard prospect.
R2 Pick 45: CB Justin Layne, Michigan State
Layne has benefited from excellent measurements and combine performance, and he’s one of the hottest risers in this whole class. He jumped out of the gym with a 37.5″ vert, and his wingspan was one of the best of the combine for cornerbacks. To go along with his elite agility, he has an opportunity to be special if he can learn how to use all of his tools.
R3 Pick 79: EDGE Zach Allen, Boston College
Allen has gotten some first-round chatter, but I still think he’s a candidate to fall on draft day. Allen is a physical force who has a mean streak. He’s very aggressive with his bull rush, which is his weapon of choice. However, for Edge Rushers to survive in the NFL, you need more than one move in the basket. Allen is a high effort, high output player. His “bend” isn’t spectacular, but at this junction, he’s one hell of a value.
R4 Pick 117: OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State
Tytus Howard recently had a visit with the entire coaching staff, so I think it’s safe to say he’s garnering some interest from Dan Quinn and company. Howard is a very, very, very raw prospect. However, he has the tools and the athletic gifts to be a premier left or right tackle in this league. He’s going to need some coaching, but the Falcons’ offensive line is so porous, they need all the help they can get.
R4 Pick 137: DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois
A small school sleeper, Saunders has been highly productive over his college career. Saunders had a dominant senior bowl, and at 310 pounds makes an excellent compliment to Grady Jarrett. There’s only one word to describe him: explosive. He whipped some top-level interior lineman all game during the senior bowl and might be a candidate to be drafted even higher than 79.
R5 Pick 152: EDGE Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
These middle rounds are when teams start paying less attention to need and more attention to best player available. Luckily for Atlanta, this pick satisfies both conditions. Significant contributors on the NFL level can be found in this round, and teams usually look for guys who were outstanding players in college. Sutton Smith fits the bill perfectly. An All-American in 2017, Smith led the FBS in Sacks, TFL and QB Pressures. He’s the most prolific defensive player in Northern Illinois football history. The Falcons should target him here, and if not, look for them to choose a player who tests off the charts athletically.
R5 Pick 172: RB Miles Sanders, Penn State
Sanders is a former 5-star who was expected to blow up onto the scene after Saquon Barkley’s departure. Sanders never made the splash that his old running mate did, but he’s still got a lot of upside for a 5th round pick. He had a great combine, and he’s a speedy and shifty back who would slot nicely into Ito Smith’s former role.
R6 Pick 186: DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
Wise is an exciting prospect. 3 Techniques usually aren’t chosen very high in the draft, but Wise was getting some first-round love before this past season. I think the 6th round is his floor. The third is his ceiling, and with a position that a premium isn’t placed on, it’s hard to tell when a team will jump. He fills a need for the Falcons, and he has his warts, but he has solid burst and pass rushing ability for a guy his size.
R7 Pick 230: CB Kris Boyd, Texas
Boyd has taken a tumble down draft boards. Robert Alford and Brian Poole have been shown the door. There isn’t much on the roster behind them that inspires a lot of hope. That’s a lot of secondary depth to replace. Isaiah Oliver has made strides in his first season but often looks lost. Atlanta needs to get bodies behind Neal, Kazee, Allen, and Trufant. Boyd is excellent against the run but sometimes struggles with the deep ball. He had a poor combine showing and will have to prove a lot to the coaching staff to warrant this choice. With Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen (hopefully) behind him, he’ll have ample time to develop.