With Miami and San Francisco pulling off a blockbuster trade, the NFL Draft has officially been kicked into high-gear. Personally, I think the Falcons will pull off some type of trade, even if they don’t move out of the 4th overall pick. Still, I’m over the moon with this draft class — I think it’s incredibly talented top to bottom. Even if the Falcons don’t make any moves at all, they can still come away with a fantastic group. This will be the chalk edition of what I think the team will do, followed by what I want to do, and the final edition right before the draft will be what I think the Falcons will do. All prospect rankings are via TheDraftNetwork. With that being said, let’s get started.
Round 1, Pick 4: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
I’ve flip flopped between Justin Fields and Trey Lance as my QB2, but I’m starting to lean towards Fields. I still like Kyle Pitts, but if Fields is available for the Falcons, it would be incredibly tough to pass on him. Fields has incredible size and athleticism, and his deep ball has really improved since coming into college. He can make any throw that you ask of him, and he’s fantastic at improvising and moving around the pocket. He ran a 4.44 unofficial 40 yard dash was very impressive. I think if he reaches his full potential, he has Russell Wilson potential. I think he could greatly benefit from sitting behind Matt Ryan for two seasons, and Arthur Smith would be able to mold him into the offense to create a seamless transition.
Round 2, Pick 35: G Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (Prospect Rank: 45)
Wyatt Davis had a bit of a down 2020, but he’s the best player available at a massive position of need. As of this writing, Atlanta still has not addressed guard or center in free agency outside of Josh Andrews. Matt Hennessy should improve and Matt Gono has guard flexibility, but Davis is a game-changer. Guard is one position I was hoping the Falcons would spend big on in free agency, but that isn’t going to happen. They may still bring in a cheap option, but I still like Wyatt Davis here. This was a tough pick to make a call on — you have to consider the running backs, edge rushers, safeties, and even other interior offensive linemen like Landon Dickerson and Creed Humphrey. It’s unsure if my draft darling Greg Newsome II will be available here, but I doubt it.
The bottom line is — Davis is the best fit, and Ryan Tannehill thrived under Arthur Smith when he had a clean pocket. Davis is incredibly physical and athletic; the fact that he’s a plug-and-play starter at left guard is just icing on the cake. His natural gifts and high motor make him a perfect fit to pair with Chris Lindstrom, and the duo would be one of the best young guard tandems in the entire NFL.
Round 3, Pick 68: S Richie Grant, UCF (Prospect Rank: 66)
I think this is actually really low for Richie Grant; he’s my S1 for this entire class. However, for now, I’ll take him in the third round all day. Alex did a nice write up on Grant:
Grant can play any role in any coverage Dean Pees decides to deploy. He possesses sideline-to-sideline range with explosive acceleration, which allows him to take tight ends and running backs in man coverage, not just cover ground as a single-high or split-zone safety. Grant has incredible ball skills but packs a punch as a run-defender. He’s likely a free safety at the next level, but with that said, he can comfortably work in the slot. He can even play in the box when needed due to his efforts in run defense and physical nature.
Grant immediately fills a need and is the best player available with a third round pick. Also, watch out for Milton Williams of Louisiana Tech here; he measured in incredibly at the Bulldogs’ Pro Day.
Round 4, Pick 109: CB Trill Williams, Syracuse (Prospect Rank: 112)
On top of having the best name in the entire class, I like Trill Williams’ upside in the fourth round. He’s a Dean Pees-type player, possessing the ability to play on the boundary, in the slot, and even at safety for the Orangemen. At 6’2, he has excellent size and can match up with almost anyone on the field. Williams’ appeal to me is his ultra- aggressiveness. While it can get him in trouble at times, he has three career return touchdowns for Syracuse. It’s worth taking a risk on a ballhawk in the fourth round, especially considering the need and scheme fit.
Round 5, Pick 159: S James Wiggins, Cincinnati (Prospect Rank: 145)
A trendy comparison I’ve heard for James Wiggins is to Ricardo Allen, but I think Wiggins could have a bit more upside and still play immediately. Dean Pees values versatile players, which is why I would expect Wiggins to be in play along with guys like Richie Grant, Jevon Holland, and Jamar Johnson. Wiggins is an absolute ballhawk, and three of his four interceptions in his first year as a starter sealed a victory for Cincinnati. He suffered a torn ACL in 2019, but I fully expect him to be ready to go and contribute to this Falcons defense immediately in 2021 as a high safety.
Round 5, Pick 183: EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane (Prospect Rank: 181)
Patrick Johnson is one of my favorite prospects in the entire class. I actually watched him a lot in high school as well, as he played about 20 miles from my hometown. Over the past three seasons, Johnson has notched 34 TFLs, 11 sacks, 11 PBUs, and six forced fumbles for Willie Fritz. Johnson is another guy that can move all over the defense and even has flexibility as an off-ball linebacker. He’s a great athlete and a perfect fit in a 3-4 Hybrid look. Johnson needs to refine his plan as a pass rusher, like most of these prospects, but he could be an absolute steal in the fifth round.
Round 5, Pick 184: TE Tre McKitty, Georgia (Prospect Rank: 198)
I pondered LaBryan Ray here as a space-eater, but the team still has Deadrin Senat, and options like Jurrell Casey and Geno Atkins remain on the free-agent market. For now, I’ll give Atlanta a solid vertical threat at tight end, even after missing out on Kyle Pitts. Arthur Smith has done fantastic things with tight ends, and McKitty can serve as an in-line blocker while he develops more as a receiver. If Atlanta decides to move on from Lee Smith or if Hayden Hurst’s fifth-year option is declined, this gives the Falcons something at the position outside of Jaeden Graham. McKitty is a very good athlete, and he could develop into a serious threat under Arthur Smith.
Round 6, Pick 188: IOL Drake Jackson, Kentucky (Prospect Rank: 213)
Drake Jackson makes a lot of sense for the Falcons, as he has potential to be a plug-and-play center that immediately fills the final hole on Atlanta’s offensive line after adding Wyatt Davis. Jackson is a scheme fit, and while he doesn’t have elite upside — he’s a guy you’re getting in the sixth round that can protect Matt Ryan right now. This isn’t the sexiest pick, but there’s serious value to what he brings to the Falcons if they aren’t totally comfortable with Matt Hennessy.
Round 6, Pick 220: RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana (Prospect Rank: 242)
While I do think Ito Smith can hold down the running back room in 2021, the Falcons will need to bring in at least one body, unless they feel a lot better about Qadree Ollison than the former regime did. Mitchell is a bowling ball at 5’10 and 210 pounds, but he serves well as a blocker. Mitchell had a fantastic RAS, ranking 83rd out of 1463 running backs since 1987. His unofficial 4.38 40 yard dash and 6.94 3-cone drill will play, especially in a running back by committee rotation. He has the potential to become a lead back in the NFL.