Alright Falcons fans, we all must move on and look at the present and future of this team. The draft is going to occur in less than a month, but Atlanta doesn’t having glaring weaknesses. So which guys will fit and help contribute for Atlanta? Here is my mock draft:
Round 1: Takkarist McKinley (DE) UCLA
Coming out of UCLA, McKinley racked up 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss during his senior year. One thing that stands out watching McKinley’s tape is his relentless motor. That right there shows his ambition to win on the field, while it also shows that he is putting the team above himself. Dimitroff and Quinn will eat that up, and I can guarantee you that McKinley is on the Falcons radar. Very fast and athletic with great hands bouncing off offensive tackles. He had shoulder surgery and will be out for a couple of months, but will likely be back towards the end of training camp. If he didn’t have to get shoulder surgery, he would most likely be a top 20 selection. Many players will be gone by the time Atlanta is picking at 31, but McKinley has a chance to still be on the board, and the Falcons should take a chance on this player.
Round 2: Dion Dawkins (OG) Temple
More than likely, Falcons right guard Chris Chester is most likely going to retire. Regardless if he retires or not, Atlanta must find someone to replace him, as he was clearly the weakest link in a solid offensive line. Here comes Dion Dawkins, who can step in and take over that position by the first game. Standing at 6’4” and weighing 314 pounds, Dawkins has the knowledge and experience playing in a zone-blocking scheme, and I believe he can be a force in both pass protection and making holes for the running backs. His frame is already bigger than most, and he plays very calm and squares his defenders up, rather then relying on purely strength. Atlanta should be looking to draft an offensive guard in one of the first two rounds, and Dawkins can become a starter for this team for years to come.
Round 3: Demarcus Walker (DE) Florida State
This is a guy who has fallen down draft charts, and I think this guy is a steal. Walker was a dominant force at Florida State last season, as he had 16 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Those numbers are outstanding, and he had 4.5 sacks in one game against Ole Miss in an early matchup in the year. Walker can be a game-changer, and a team can never draft too many pass rushers. Although Atlanta does not have any glaring needs, they still have needs in order to compliment their current roster. Walker and McKinley are already an upgrade on a much improved defensive line, and complimenting Beasley will do wonders for the defense. Walker has different pass rushing styles, as he doesn’t rely on just one move. He fits Quinn’s style in “fast and physical”, and has long arms in order to keep offensive linemen off him to play with his hands and also can bat balls down from the line of scrimmage. Hopefully Walker falls to Atlanta, as he can be one of the steals of the draft for whatever team selects him.
Round 4: Kendall Beckwith (LB) LSU
This college does not just produce talent, but LSU players seem to always turn out to be great players in the league. Kendall Beckwith can be a great fit in Atlanta’s system. The reason Beckwith falls to round four is because he’s coming off a torn ACL playing against Florida. The Falcons have a starting core at each linebacker position, but the depth is thin, and depth is very important in football. Beckwith needs to improve his feet and coverage ability, but he is relentless against the run. He has a high football IQ and reads quarterbacks eyes in order to make up for lacking agility. Beckwith can easily become a starter, and instantly provides key depth that this defense needs. Oh, and the fact that he went to LSU is also a plus in my mind. As an Alabama fan, I am happy to see him move on to the NFL because he is a freak on the football field.
Round 5: Michael Roberts (TE) Toledo
The Falcons should draft a tight end in order to create competition at practice in Flowery Branch. Letting go of veteran Jacob Tamme has shown that the team is looking for second-year player Austin Hooper to take over the position. It never hurts to add targets for your quarterback, and in comes Michael Roberts. Roberts has gigantic hands (11 1/2”), and was a big red zone target last season, as he scored 16 times. He has to body type to play in the NFL, as he sinks hips and uses them to turn defensive ends outside of plays. Has the body type to shield out defensive backs and has the hand size to make his quarterback look good if they don’t throw the best pass. Roberts isn’t talked about since he went to a small school, but if coached up correctly, this player can be utilized in an effective way.
Round 7: KD Cannon (WR) Baylor
Round seven prospects usually don’t turn out to be your superstars, so usually teams take a gamble on a player they think can separate themselves from the players from their position. Cannon is a freak athlete that can be utilized on offensive coming out of the backfield, and can also be a big-time player on special teams. With Eric Weems headed to the Titans, the kick-off and punt returning position is up for grabs, and Cannon can come in and compete to try to win the position over. He also stretches the field and has home-run speed, so he can take safeties out of plays in order to create one-on-one matchups for his teammates. Cannon could be a prospect that can be utilized in Atlanta.