Fans are a bit divided on what the Falcons should do with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but going off of what Terry Fontenot has indicated, Atlanta will be choosing the best player available no matter what the position. The Falcons added a few good pieces in free agency, but for the most part, the pressing needs on the roster are still there. The biggest questions that still loom are:
1) Will the Falcons draft Matt Ryan’s heir?
2) Will the Falcons trade back?
Personally, I think the Falcons are perfectly capable of doing both, but should they? Statistically, Arthur Smith had Ryan Tannehill playing to the level of a top-five quarterback. With all due respect, Ryan is far more talented than Tannehill, even as he is about to turn 36.
For this first Mock Draft, i’ll be laying out what I would do in a perfect world while also considering what I think the team will do. The final edition will be my prediction of what the Falcons will do.
I’ll be using the player rankings from TheDraftNetwork and their trade machine to generate trades. I’ll also be referencing the Relative Athletic Score (RAS), and, while it’s a valuable tool, be advised these are Pro Day numbers and likely a bit tilted in favor of the player. If you missed the Chalk Mock Draft 1.0, you can find that below:
Falcons Trade: 4th pick
Washington Football Team Trades: 19th Pick, 51st Pick, 74th Pick (From San Francisco), 2022 First Round Pick, 2022 Third Round Pick, 2023 First Round Pick
It was reported that Washington may “unload all of their picks” to get Trey Lance and well… that’s about all of them. I’d be over the moon if this was the return the Falcons got, I’d love to have multiple first rounders for the next two years to go along with some picks in this very deep class. If not, I could see Denver moving up to four, and the Falcons would naturally target Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn. If the Falcons stay at four, my first choice is Kyle Pitts, followed by Justin Fields (if available) then Trey Lance.
Round 1, Pick 19: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (Prospect Rank: 28)
Anybody who has read my articles knows that Newsome is my “jump on the table” guy in this draft. He is being extremely underrated, in addition to his insane athletic traits, Newsome only allowed a 10.5% completion percentage over six games in 2020. Newsome could be an immediate plug and play starter at CB2, and if he reaches his full potential, he’s a lockdown CB1 that creates an elite young tandem next to AJ Terrell. He ran an unofficial 4.38, had a 40 inch vertical, but his shuttle was a tad slower than I would like. His hips and technique remind me a lot of one of my favorite current NFL players — Jaire Alexander.
Boy… that’s how you flip some hips. Love Newsome’s game. Most scheme versatile corner in this class. pic.twitter.com/HC0uYnDjNR
— Big CROCKY⚡️ (@eric_crocker) April 8, 2021
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, Trey Smith, and Quinn Meinerz and Creed Humphrey.
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 2, Pick 51 (From Washington): EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas (Prospect Rank: 55)
While this is typically my Joe Tryon spot, the NFL seems to have caught on, as his prospect ranking has jumped from 54 to 27. I think this is the perfect time to gamble on a freak pass rusher that has a knack for creating turnovers. With EDGE being one of the most glaring needs for the Falcons, Ossai could be a big time target. Like pretty much any other EDGE prospect, he will have to refine his gameplan instead of trusting his very powerful hands and speed that carried him at Texas. His fit as a 3-4 stand up pass rusher with some ability to play on the defensive line should make him very appealing to Dean Pees, and he gets a potential second coming of another former Titan/Longhorn pass rusher — Brian Orakpo.
Round 3, Pick 68: IDL Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (Prospect Rank: 64)
Don’t be shocked if Williams goes way before this, but for now — he’s in play in this range. Williams’ measurables and RAS were off the charts. His RAS ranked fourth all time, behind the likes of Myles Garrett and Mario Williams. Looking at his chart, his 10.01 inch broad jump, 38.5 inch vertical, 4.62 40, 4.25 shuttle, and 6.87 3-cone literally should not be possible for a guy his size. While these were done at a Pro Day, he has Aaron Donald beat in everything except arm length — short by about half an inch. Williams is listed as an EDGE, but I like him on the interior as a 3-4 defensive end. He gobbles up double teams, so next to Grady Jarrett and Marlon Davidson — he could be an absolute hellraiser and a the biggest steal of the draft if he reaches his potential.
Round 3, Pick 74 (From Washington): 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: EDGE Dayo Odeyingbo, Vandebilt (Prospect Rank: 119)
While I’ve mentioned before that I like Carlos Basham before because he can play inside-out, I have to give that same praise to Dayo Odeyingbo. In a multiple attacking scheme like Dean Pees utilizes, having a guy like Odeyingbo that can line up as a nose tackle, 3-tech, defensive end, and stand up to rush the passer should appeal to the Falcons. Odeyingbo is a mountain of a man at 6’6 and 265 pounds, but like most pass rushers selected this late — he will have to refine his plan of attack instead of relying on his freakish length and athleticism. His ability to be moved around like a chess piece may launch him higher than this, but he’s coming off of an achilles tear. I still think he’s a steal in the fourth round.
Round 5, Pick 149: 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: 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; he could develop into a serious deep threat under Arthur Smith and serve as a blocker in the run game for now.
Round 5, Pick 184: QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest (Prospect Rank: 203)
I’ve really avoided mid to late round quarterbacks in this draft in my previous mocks, but if you forced me to take one on day three — I have to go with Jamie Newman. I have plenty of concerns about him, his ball placement is shaky, and opting out really hurt his draft stock. He wasn’t asked to do much at Wake Forest, and he doesn’t throw with a ton of anticipation. Regardless, his arm, physical profile, and athletic traits are worth a roll of the dice, especially with Matt Ryan being the only quarterback on the roster. He’s a project, but that’s all he needs to be right now.
Round 6, Pick 188: 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. Once again, he had a fantastic RAS, ranking 83rd out of 1463 running backs. His unofficial 4.38 40 yard dash and 6.94 3-cone drill will play, especially in a running back by committee rotation.
Round 6, Pick 220: 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.