Falcons overhaul defense in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Auburn at Georgia

The great mock draft king Mel Kiper has not wavered in his pick for the Falcons.

In every iteration of the ESPN pundit’s mock drafts, Kiper has the Falcons taking Dallas Turner with their top pick. His mock draft 4.0 is no different, with Terry Fontenot filling the roster’s biggest hole, one that’s needed to be filled for years.

Atlanta’s pass rush was abysmal last season — it ranked last in the league in pass rush win rate (30.9%) — and general manager Terry Fontenot hasn’t done much to address the issues this offseason. That must mean he knows he can get help in the draft, right? The Falcons have an extra third-round pick to work with, too.

Turner is the most well-rounded edge rusher in this class. He had 10 sacks last season and 22.5 over three seasons at Alabama, and he can hold his own in the run game.

Dallas Turner is tantalizing because of his incredibly high ceiling. At every stop of his football journey, he’s been one of, if not the most athletic guy on the field. That didn’t change at Alabama and won’t change in the NFL. He tested extremely well, but his game still needs some refining.

The Falcons would have to have a lot of conviction in their ability to help Turner maximize his talent. However, Kiper and everyone else who continues to mock Turner, Jared Verse, or Laiatu Latu to Atlanta in the first round continually preach “roster need,” yet refuse to acknowledge Terry Fontenot’s history of selecting the best player available.

Kiper continues to fill needs in the second round too.

43. Atlanta Falcons

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

If the Falcons address their pass rush in Round 1, they should take the best available cornerback in Round 2. They picked off just eight passes last season and need to add competition on the other side of A.J. Terrell.

Lassiter, who has some experience playing in the slot, held opposing quarterbacks to a 29% completion rate as the primary defender in coverage, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That was the seventh-best mark in the FBS.

“Best available cornerback” is closer to the M.O. of Atlanta’s GM, but Fontenot drafted Bijan Robinson last year with a 1,000-yard running back in Tyler Allgeier coming off a record-breaking rookie campaign.

The Falcons have been proscribed to drafting to fill needs in the past. I’m not saying it’s not possible. If you believe Turner and Lassiter are the best players available at their respective spots, I can get my mind around that, but that is important.

Lassiter and Turner would fill the roster’s two biggest needs at this point in the offseason.

Photographer: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire
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