The Falcons have filled many of the roster’s holes in free agency, which has positioned the team to approach the draft with a best player available strategy, as they have since the new regime took over. The club can go in a number of different directions with its third top 10 pick in as many years, but Trevor Sikkema of PFF has the Falcons bolstering an emerging secondary and passing on Georgia’s Jalen Carter.
8. ATLANTA FALCONS: CB JOEY PORTER JR., PENN STATE
The Falcons are looking for the best players they can add. They already brought in Jessie Bates III in free agency, but they still need more talent at cornerback. Porter has the NFL legacy and some unique measurables with his 34-inch arms. He’d create a nice cornerback duo with A.J. Terrell.
Joey Porter Jr. is one of several cornerbacks that intrigue me as a possibility for the Falcons first-round pick. It would give the defense an identity, a strong secondary, which is something that side of the ball hasn’t had in a long time. With Casey Hayward set to enter his last season under contract, it’s time the Falcons start planning for the future opposite of All-Pro A.J. Terrell.
Sikkema’s other two picks also addressed the defensive side of the ball in Felix Anudike-Uzomah of Kansas State and Chris Smith of Georgia. The former Wildcats edge defender is more of a finesse pass rusher that boasts an array of moves but struggles to defend the run. Opposed to most collegiate pass rushers, Anudike-Uzomah uses his hands very well and comes with a plan — an attribute that cannot be overlooked.
Smith was an All-American on the best team in the country. At 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds, he is a little on the lighter end but is a more than willing tackler and really impresses in coverage. I like both of those picks, but the reason for this article is Atlanta passing on Smith’s former teammate Jalen Carter, who was selected in Sikkama’s mock draft one slot after Atlanta. Somehow the Bears traded eight spots and still got a player they were originally projected to select with the first overall pick.
Following the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, many expect a slide down draft boards for arguably the most talented prospect in this cycle. The concerns stem from Carter’s charges of reckless driving and racing the night of a fatal crash that took the lives of Georgia staffer Chandler LeCroy and offensive lineman Devin Willock. But those concerns grew at Georiga’s Pro Day.
Carter showed up nine pounds heavier than he weighed in at the NFL Combine and struggled to finish drills. Reportedly, he was winded and cramping. I’m not sure how his agent and representatives let him go out and compete in that state, but we are clearly not getting the complete story.
There is no telling what the young man is going through. He is still mourning and coming to grips with the entire situation, which we know very little about. It’s the most important job interview of his life, and Carter showed up nearly 10 pounds overweight; he must be battling something.
With that being said, the Falcons should be willing to bring him into Flowery Branch. When he was on the field, Jalen Carter was arguably the best player in the country. Despite concerns about his commitment off the field, if Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith are confident in the culture being built, it should bring out the best in Carter.
If the Falcons end up passing on him, I would be supremely disappointed, as would most fans.
Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire