Falcons: Mainstream analysts’ 2021 mock draft tracker

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Mock drafts have become a customary exercise every NFL offseason because the draft is the most popular non-sporting event in sports. It is no secret — no matter the time of the year, no matter the publication — mock drafts draw massive audiences.

I think what makes mock drafts so enjoyable is the wannabe analysts able to make educated guesses while recycling the same trends, but there are endless possibilities for a full 32-team mock draft. One can create the most accurate mock draft from a basement, while the mainstream analysts get nearly every pick wrong. It is just fun to imagine your favorite team drafting “your” guy. Here are the mainstream analysts’ latest predictions for the Falcons first round pick.


Peter Schrager, NFL.com

Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, 15th overall

Analysis: “Yes, they have Deion Jones. But the division rival Bucs have Devin White and Lavonte David, and how’s that working out? Owusu-Koramoah is a wild-card prospect — he’s going to be playing at 220-230 pounds — but he fits the bill for the 2021 LB prototype. Atlanta needs a lot of defensive help.”


Mel Kiper, ESPN

Pick: Trey Lance, 4th overall 

Analysis: “With its salary-cap situation, Atlanta mostly has to stay out of free agency, and it even had to restructure quarterback Matt Ryan‘s contract to get under the $182.5 million cap. As a result of that restructure, the organization can’t move on from Ryan until 2022, at the earliest, but that’s OK. Lance is going to need time to adapt to the speed of the NFL. He started only 17 games in college, all of which were against FCS competition, and it’s a big jump to the pros. The Falcons need to start thinking about the future. They also are a prime trade-down option, particularly to try to get better value for a defender — and acquire more picks.”


Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Pick: Trey Lance, 4th overall

Analysis: “If Atlanta stays at No. 4, I can’t see the franchise passing on soon-to-be 36-year-old Matt Ryan‘s eventual successor.”


Ryan Wilson, CBS 

Pick: Penei Sewell, 4th overall

Analysis: “The Falcons could go quarterback or tight end but instead they take the conservative route and grab the best offensive lineman in the class, which means this remains Matt Ryan‘s team for at least another year.”


Ben Linsey, PFF

Pick: Patrick Surtain II, 9th overall

Analysis: “Most of Atlanta’s pressing needs come on the defensive side of the football, but there isn’t a defensive prospect who makes a ton of sense as a top-five pick in this draft class. Surtain becomes much more interesting here for the Falcons after trading back with Denver. Neither Isaiah Oliver nor Kendall Sheffield has impressed early on. Surtain brings three years of high-level production in the SEC, consistent technique and high-end athleticism to the table. Pairing Surtain with A.J. Terrell would give the Falcons two cornerbacks to get excited about heading into 2021 in Dean Pees’ defense.”


Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com

Pick: Kwity Paye, 4th overall

Analysis: “Paye remains the optimal pick for Atlanta, but the gap between the next-best selection has narrowed. Drafting cornerback Patrick Surtain II to pair with last season’s first-rounder, A.J. Terrell, is the Falcons’ second-best option.”


Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Pick: Patrick Surtain II, 4th overall

Analysis: “The Falcons could take a quarterback here to learn behind Matt Ryan or trade out of this spot, but Surtain is the pick they need as a lockdown cornerback.”


Drae Harris, The Draft Network

Pick: Kyle Pitts, 4th overall

Analysis: “Atlanta wrestles with the decision to take and develop a young QB here. But after they decided to restructure Matt Ryan’s contract, that gave the team more flexibility to add weapons. Kyle Pitts is one of the very best offensive weapons in this draft. This will make Atlanta’s offense dangerous and difficult to guard.”


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