This is my last pre Pro Day/Free Agency/Senior Bowl mock draft, so I’m just gonna go crazy with this one. Sadly after this, I’ll be shifting to a seven round more realistic approach with less trading, but this is what MY dream scenario is in April.
Lions Trade: QB Matthew Stafford
Colts Trade: Pick 21, Additional Assets
Lions Trade: Pick 7, Pick 21
Falcons Trade: Pick 4
Falcons Trade: Pick 7
49ers Trade: Pick 12, Pick 43, Pick 139
Falcons Trade: Pick 12, Pick 68
Jaguars Trade: Pick 25, Pick 33, Pick 45
Falcons Trade: Pick 25
Dolphins Trade: Pick 35, Pick 82
The Lions secure their quarterback of the future, and Atlanta receives two first rounders. Moving up for your guy isn’t cheap, but Detroit can hit the reset button with the assets they get from the Stafford trade. The 49ers swoop in for Trey Lance after missing on Stafford (even though they’re the favorites right now), and Atlanta moves back again. The Falcons then turn pick #12 into a later first and two second-rounders so Jacksonville can snag a falling wide receiver like Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith.
The first wide receiver chosen in the 2020 draft was at pick 11, so don’t be surprised. Finally, Miami moves up to secure a defensive piece with their gobs of draft capital from the Texans. These trades are off gut-feeling, the semi-outdated draft chart, TDN’s mock draft simulator, and just for fun. I don’t think there has ever been a mock draft to nail the first ten picks with or without trades, so don’t get too wound up. This is a dream scenario, but these will get more nailed down as the quarterback market shakes out and the Senior Bowl, pro days, and free agency conclude. I’m sure Deshaun Watson being traded will blow this all up pretty soon anyway. There is still plenty of value on the board. Now, let’s get to work with our twelve draft choices.
R1, Pick 21: LB Micah Parson, Penn State
You may be scratching your head a bit here, but Micah Parsons has some serious off-field allegations against him right now. Now, he is innocent until proven guilty, but he may be in for a draft-day slide. If the Falcons are comfortable, you have to snag him here. If everything checks out, he’s one of the five best players in this class right now. I believe in second chances. From my profile:
- Outside of the ugly hazing allegations, on the field — Parsons is as clean of a prospect as they come. He has natural instincts and played a lot of positions very well.
- Parsons is a hellish blitzer with enough athleticism to move around in space. He fills running lanes and has a nose for the football.
- Parsons is rangy with explosive ability to find the football and cover the flats. This is important in a division with Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and possibly Travis Etienne, whom I believe is a good fit for Tampa Bay at the end of the first round one. His natural comparison is Devin White or even Bobby Wagner.
Parsons’ draft stock is all over the place now, but with additional assets in place — this is the spot you gamble on a supreme talent. Guys like Laremy Tunsil have tumbled but paid serious dividends, just look at the extra picks from Miami via Houston that I’m playing with. If some team takes Parsons where he should be taken in the Top 15, I would pivot to Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari or Christian Barmore.
R2, Pick 33: IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
One of my favorite prospects in this range, along with Christian Barmore, Vera-Tucker is an immediate plug and play starter at a massive position of need for the Falcons. He plays left tackle for USC, but he’s destined to be an elite NFL guard. Vera-Tucker is a supreme athlete for his size, and he is mean as hell as a run blocker. He is as balanced of a player as you will find at 6’4 and 300 pounds, so he’s a no brainer at a position that has been marred by inconsistency during the Matt Ryan era.
R2, Pick 35: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Chase talked about how Najee Harris could transform Arthur Smith‘s offense, and I have to agree with him. You aren’t going to find a better combination of size and raw athleticism. While Harris usually gets the dirty yards four or six at a time, he has the elusiveness and vision to break off big chunk runs. He is solid in the receiving game, but his rushing ability reminds me of Le’Veon Bell. Adding an elite running back this early is a risk, but I think it pays off for Matt Ryan and this offense as a whole.
R2, Pick 36: EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
Jaelan Phillips was the top-rated high school recruit in his class, and he finally made his mark after transferring from UCLA. Another versatile piece that can play as a rush defensive end, Phillips has all of the size and athletic gifts you could ever dream of. His technique needs some work, as those gifts will not carry him to the status of an elite NFL EDGE alone. Regardless, Grady Jarrett gets another hulking brute at 6’5, 258 that can kick out and help standing up as well. He isn’t as comfortable in space as Ojulari, but he can line up as a two tech as well and rush up the middle to gobble up doubles in a nickel package. I love Phillips as a prospect, and with proper coaching, he will be a monster.
R2, Pick 43: C Landon Dickerson, Alabama
It’s hard not to love Landon Dickerson. At the combine, his size measurables all ranked above the 97th percentile for all ACTIVE centers in the NFL. Dickerson played all over the line for Nick Saban, and his leadership was apparent after his injury. Not only does Dickerson have a ton of intangibles, but he also played fantastic, protecting Mac Jones and paving roadways for Najee Harris. He’s an immediate plug and play starter at either left guard or center — two massive needs for Atlanta. With Vera-Tucker in the fold, Atlanta has a new look and extremely versatile offensive line.
R2, Pick 45: EDGE Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh
Still my big draft crush, Patrick Jones may be in for a big draft day rise. He lived in the backfield chasing down scrambling ACC quarterbacks, and I’m willing to bet a team falls in love with him in the second round after pro days. For now, his range is around the third round. He may be the most explosive EDGE in this entire class, and his physical tools are there to match. He is very well rounded and competitive, and if the right coach gets ahold of him, he has All-Pro potential. This late in the draft, I’m willing to gamble on an excellent ultra-competitive EDGE.
R3, Pick 82: S Richie Grant, UCF
Richie Grant and the rest of UCF got eaten alive by Zach Wilson, but he has been a popular name so far at the Senior Bowl. I usually snag Jevon Holland, Andre Cisco, or Trevon Moehrig by this point — but I think Grant’s versatility and athleticism are appealing here, especially with TDN slotting him at 81 currently. He may not have the nickel corner capabilities of Jevon Holland, but Grant can play both safety positions with terrific ball skills. He’s still pretty raw and will need to work on his overall technique and angles, but he’s loaded with potential and has shown some serious chops at Senior Bowl practice this week.
R4, Pick 99: IDL Marvin Wilson, Florida State
I cannot pass on Marvin Wilson this late in the process. Wilson got top ten love before the season, but 99 is exactly where TDN has him rated at the moment. He commanded almost all of the attention upfront at Florida State, but he’s still an extremely interesting prospect. Wilson needs to gain some muscle and clean up his frame, but I think he was shorted by poor coaching. He’s more of a project than most people thought at the beginning of the season, but he’s way too naturally talented to fall any further.
R5, Pick 132: EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
My other draft crush, also named Patrick, is the last EDGE I’ll be taking. An extremely productive player for Willie Fritz, Johnson is another versatile chess piece with incredible burst off of the edge. Instinctively, you won’t find a better player at this point in the draft.
R5, Pick 139: S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
Continuing the versatility trend, Trevon Moehrig overshadowed Ar’Darius Washington at TCU — but Washington may turn out to be a better pro. He reminds me a lot of my 2020 draft crush Antoine Winfield Jr. he’s a bit smaller for a safety but is extremely physical in any role. Washington can play slot corner, box safety, free safety, and even a bit on the boundary when called upon. Even though he’s only 5’8, he is incredibly tough at the point of attack and a physical tackler. He competes for the ball and often wins even without prototypical length. At worst, he fills a need as a slot corner and nickel blitzer.
Projected Compensation Pick: RB Kenny Gainwell, Memphis
Gainwell sat out 2020 after unfortunately losing multiple family members to COVID. I respect his decision, and I respect the 6.6 YPC he posted in 2019 as well. Gainwell is the lightning to Najee Harris’ thunder, as he is exceptional as a route runner and is dynamic after the catch. His 2,069 scrimmage yards and 16 total scores in Memphis’ high octane system probably won’t translate, but this is the perfect time to draft a swift change of pace back to solidify the running back position in Atlanta.
Projected Compensation Pick: TE Tre McKitty, Georgia
I think I have sufficiently filled every hole outside of backup quarterback with this pick, but I don’t love a lot of the quarterbacks later in this draft. McKitty lined up all over Todd Monken’s offense, and he’s a very competitive blocker that can immediately produce in that facet for the Falcons. Tight end is a difficult position to adjust to in the NFL, but McKitty can serve as an understudy to Hayden Hurst while providing valuable run game push.
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