Free agency is still in full effect, dominating the sporting news world with no active competition available to watch. However, after the signings of Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler, the trade for Hayden Hurst, as well as some smaller transactions, the Falcons have minimal cap space. Going forward, they will mostly be addressing their needs in the upcoming NFL Draft. They did an excellent job of filling their running back, tight end, and EDGE rusher vacancies, but there are still plenty of needs. Now that things have changed since my last mock draft, it is time to regroup and take a look at how Thomas Dimitroff and company should attack this make it or break it draft for himself as well as the organization.
Round 1, Pick 16: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
In Jake’s mock, he had the Falcons trading back and taking Kinlaw. If the Falcons can pull that off, it will be quite possibly the best move of the Draft. While he did offer some context as to how that could be realistic, I am just not quite sure he will fall that far, or even to 16 for that matter. I have seen crazier things happen, but I believe Kinlaw is a top 15 player in this draft class. Although the Falcons brought back Tyeler Davidson, this should not sway them away from taking a game-changing interior lineman to pair with Grady Jarrett, as Tyeler would provide a quality depth option at a reasonable cost. Kinlaw has elite size and has already been a very productive player that has shown elite pass-rushing potential at the next level, but many scouts feel he is just scratching the surface of what he can accomplish.
Round 2, Pick 15: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
If you have followed my NFL Draft coverage, it is no secret I have a love for Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall. He is a prototypical big-bodied corner with incredible ball tracking ability and a stand-up teammate. If not for an injury suffered mid-season and a deep cornerback class, Hall would be a first-round selection. With the Saints adding a receiver in Emmanuel Sanders and the Buccaneers bringing Tom Brady, the Falcons’ secondary is in trouble following Desmond Trufant’s release. They must find a quality cornerback, and Hall would, at the very least, give the Falcons a start solidifying the unit.
Round 3, Pick 14: EDGE Jonathan Greenard
Despite the Falcons signing Dante Fowler, the Falcons still need to address the EDGE. Takk McKinley’s future with the team is up in the air, and while Fowler looked terrific last season, he still has a small sample size as a starter. Even if he provides the production the Falcons are envisioning given the sizeable contract they handed him, one man is not going to fix the pass rush. Greenard, a transfer from Lousiville who became the SEC’s sack leader down in Gainesville, would be a wonderful addition. He also received a 91.2 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus last season, showing he is a well-rounded player rather than a rotational one-trick pony. The Falcons may end up prioritizing the pass rush a tad bit less after the Fowler signing, but second-tier options such as Bradlee Anae, Josh Uche, and Greenard available after the first round should be on their radar.
Round 4, Pick 13: C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
The Falcons have four starters locked in on their offensive line: Jake Matthews, Alex Mack, Chris Lindstrom, and Kaleb McGary. However, they still have a vacancy to fill at left guard. Biadasz was a star center and perhaps the best offensive lineman in the country for Wisconsin and should be able to slide over a spot and provide a quality starter as an interior blocker in his first year. Despite Wisconsin losing four starters on their line, Biadasz was able to anchor the unit en route to the Badgers, perhaps having the best rushing offense in college football. To me, Biadasz has shown enough to be a late first-rounder, but his draft stock is all over the place likely due to a hip surgery he underwent in the offseason leading into the 2019 season. Interior linemen also are not valued as highly as tackles. If Biadasz is available here, it is a no-brainer, and it seems with this class of interior blockers, the Falcons should be able to wait and bring in a quality option.
Round 4, Pick 28: C Matt Hennessey, Temple
Yep, I went there, doubling down on the interior offensive line in the fourth round. This boils down to Hennessey being the best player available during my simulation. He is a converted tight end who can move, an elite athlete at the position. Alex Mack is a future Hall of Famer in my opinion, and likely still has a few quality seasons left in the tank. However, this move would allow Hennessey to compete with Biadasz for the left guard spot and give the Falcons a fantastic chance to win now, while also setting them up to have one of the best interior lines in football in future seasons. Biadasz, Hennessey, and Chris Lindstrom is a deadly trio.
Round 7, Pick 14: QB Anthony Gordon
I do not understand why Anthony Gordon does not receive more draft love after becoming the Pac-12’s passing leader, and his former teammate Gardner Minshew surprising people as a rookie. Sure, Mike Leach’s quarterbacks have not had a ton success at the next level, but the game is more and more shifting towards the type of offense he has run for years. Gordon is a gamer, and in my opinion, a future NFL starter. I doubt he falls to the 7th, but if he does, I think he can be the best Day 3 QB pick since Tom Brady. The Falcons can always save an additional $2 million by moving on from Matt Schaub before the start of the season.
Special Mention: UDFA RB Darius Anderson, TCU
I have written throughout the offseason that I think the Falcons’ best course of action is to trade down at times during the draft and bring in more bodies on rookie deals. Of course, I did not include trades in this mock. In a perfect world, the Falcons will acquire a couple of extra picks and select a running back. Todd Gurley is an exhilarating pickup, but his health is in question. The Falcons will need to draft another back, but in this simulator, TCU running back Darius Anderson went undrafted, so I am handing him a theoretical contract within seconds of Mr. Irrelevant wrapping up Day 3. I am not sure he will ever be an NFL starter, but he did show promise as a senior and is worth a look as a backup.