Quinnen Williams, DT/DE, Alabama
It’s scary how a new top-10 pick emerges on the Alabama defensive line nearly every year. Williams was that guy in 2018, after redshirting his freshman season and serving as a rotational piece the year after. But as a sophomore, Williams has been unstoppable in every game he’s played thus far, accumulating 66 tackles, 18 of them for loss and 8 sacks. If there’s a game that best references his dominance, it’s the one that took place on Saturday night in Death Valley.
Williams made the LSU offensive line, that was coming off a dominant performance themselves against Georgia, look like kids at the playground. He racked up 10 tackles, 3.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks in that game alone, as the Tide shut out the Tigers. This is a disruptive presence that is just as effective against the run as he is getting after the passer. I would love to pair him with Grady Jarrett on the defensive line.
Rashan Gary, DT/DE, Michigan
Gary is a similar size to Williams in a similar role for the Wolverines. He may not have the same statistical success that Williams did at Alabama in 2018, but he possesses the kind of freak athleticism that makes you think he could be a star in the NFL. At 6’5″, 290 pounds, Gary is built like a defensive tackle with speed to play sideline to sideline like a linebacker. Todd McShay has Gary going #2 to the 49ers. I’m not sure he will go that high, but I could see a team like the Falcons, who are desperate for pass rushers, taking a chance on him in the top-10.
Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Beginning to see a trend here? The Falcons have to select a pass rusher with their first-round pick. It was an egregious mistake not to draft one last year, and an error they cannot afford to make again. Despite Quinnen Williams’s stellar campaign, it was actually Allen that won Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC, and it wasn’t an award that was given to him out of pity.
Allen earned it the entire season, lifting the Kentucky program into relevance for the first time in a long time. He finished the year with 18.5 tackles for loss and a ridiculous 14.0 sacks, good four fourth in the nation. What may be even more impressive; however, is his versatility. Allen is a contributor on every play and accumulated 84 total tackles this season to go along with his 14.0 sacks. He’d be a much-appreciated addition to the Atlanta defense.
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
If there’s one other glaring positional need for the Falcons it comes across the offensive line. Atlanta will be searching all the cracks for some reliable guard play and could be looking to replace Ryan Schraeder, who has struggled mightily this season. Enter Jonah Williams. Williams has been a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, allowing for Tua and Jalen to do their thing without any disruption.
The thing I like about Williams is his ability to play multiple positions. He certainly has the talent to be an elite offensive tackle in this league, but his shorter arms may make him a better fit as a guard. With the Falcons needing both, I wouldn’t mind Williams being their selection. However, I really don’t see how they take anything other than a pass rusher in the first-round.
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississipi State
Notice another trend? Yeah, the SEC is loaded with NFL prospects this year, especially ones that are going to make a living getting after the passer. Sweat might be a guy who goes in the middle of the first round, but regardless, I would love for the Falcons to find a way to draft him.
Sweat broke out as a junior for the Bulldogs with 15.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He could have come out last year, but opted to play as a senior for a Mississippi State team that expected to be much better this season. Sweat mimicked his production from a year ago, coming up with 14.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He’s a legit option, but only if the Falcons wind up picking outside the top-10.