Many people are confused about what “best player available” rudimentarily means, and for a good reason. Depending on the scope you’re looking through, it can mean many different things. It may seem ridiculous to suggest not taking the best player available, that it is a natural way to draft. Still, sometimes teams reach for need rather than selecting the best player, or make decisions based on future outlooks more than immediate impact.
Looking at a pick like Marcus Davenport when Terry Fontenot was in New Orleans, the Saints were betting on his tremendous upside. For this mock draft, I’ll be taking the best player available, no matter the position. I’ll try to consider the Falcons’ needs, but it will be supplemental to BPA. Granted, it’s impossible to predict who will be available, but I’ll do my best to pick the more polished prospects on the board. For the prospect position, I’ll be using TDN & PFF’s draft big boards.
Round 1, Pick 4: T/G Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Slater is the only player you could consider a reach up the board, but he’s one of the most complete prospects in the entire class. He is insanely athletic and only allowed five pressures in all of 2019. Slater has Quenton Nelson plug-and-play potential and could receive All-Pro votes at guard immediately — he’s that good. Penei Sewell can develop into a top-five tackle in football, but Slater is ready to be elite right now. (And yes, I understand drafting a guard at fourth overall is insane)
Enjoyed watching former Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater. I think he’s a tackle. The 2019 game vs. Ohio State sold me on that. He handled Chase Young well. There will be some teams that grade him as an IOL though. pic.twitter.com/ZiNIND40uX
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 5, 2020
Round 2, Pick 36: EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest
PFF and TDN disagree with where Basham will land, but I think 36 is a logical pick for him to go. TDN’s ranking of 64 is a bit too low, especially with his ability to play inside out. Basham is another finished product, and he immediately fills a massive need at multiple positions on the defensive front. He put on over 50 pounds last offseason, and I think he’s a perfect prospect next to Grady Jarrett. Regardless of his effectiveness rushing the passer, Basham’s motor gives this pick great value.
Round 3, Pick 68: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
Melifonwu is a long, rangy corner with pretty solid abilities when pressing and natural instincts in zone coverage. Right now, he would work best on the boundary to push Isaiah Oliver into a nickel role. With as much nickel as Dean Pees tends to utilize, Atlanta cannot select enough defensive backs in this draft.
Round 4, Pick 99: EDGE Victor Dimukeje, Duke
Sticking with the trend of polished products, Dimukeje was a very productive four-year starter at Duke. Not only does he fill a need, but he also doesn’t have many glaring holes in his game. He’s a strong and physical end, but he may have to line up on the interior in a 3-4 instead of as a stand-up rusher. Regardless, in the fourth round, he’s the most plug-and-play-ready guy on the board.
Idk where or if he gets drafted… but Duke DE Victor Dimukeje is one of my favorite players in the class to watch
154 Career QB Pressures
Plays Through/Off Contact Well
Solid Run Defender pic.twitter.com/ZOUguKfw2p
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 5, 2021
Round 5, Pick 132: RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State
It sucks not to pick a safety here, and I think Sermon will go a bit higher than this, but it’s about where he is on the board now. Sermon immediately starts at running back from day one. From Chase’s profile:
Sermon’s stock began to rise exponentially after his 331-yard rushing performance against a stout Northwestern defense in the Big 10 Championship game. He followed that up with 193 yards on the ground and 61 yards through the air against Clemson. Unfortunately, he was injured in the first quarter of the National Championship game. It would have been awesome to watch him challenge the Crimson Tide defense, but he had already done enough to prove that he has the skills to succeed at the next level.
Sermon showed he could do it all in an offense down the stretch. He’s a physical back, weighing 215 pounds, that was breaking tackles and making people miss left and right against high-level defenses.
Everything about this run is great, but the hurdle at the end is bonkers. Man went from regaining his balance, to stiff arm, to seeing another defender diving at his feet at then jumped over him while moving laterally — Go off, Trey Sermon pic.twitter.com/EBlopHm7q1
— Bill Landis (@BillLandis25) December 22, 2020