Falcons potential first-round draft targets and their NFL comps


The Falcons hold the 8th overall pick for the third consecutive draft cycle, and most mock drafts have Atlanta landing Dallas Turner.

If it’s not the Alabama product, every pundit has the Falcons taking a defender, whether that’s a cornerback or a pass rusher. What especially irks me about these mock drafts isn’t the prospects because I could talk myself into just about any scenario for the Falcons.

What bothers me is the reasoning. Every draft pundit’s reason begins and ends with roster need. Yes, the Falcons need a cornerback and a pass rusher, but Terry Fontenot has never drafted for need and shouldn’t be expected to this time around either, even if the need is of the glaring variety.

With that being said, three of the top five most popular players mocked to Atlanta have some pretty enticing comps from ESPN:

Quinyon Mitchell to Marshon Lattimore

Mitchell could be the first corner taken off the board, and the Falcons don’t have a clear starter opposite A.J. Terrell right now. Mitchell and Lattimore are the same size and ran similar 40-yard dash times, with Mitchell edging out the Saints star by three-hundredths of a second. The reason for the comp by Jeff Legwold is because of Mitchell’s “willingness to get right in the wide receiver’s wheelhouse at the line of scrimmage.” If Mitchell is the pick and turns out to be an All-Pro corner, that would be the best first-round pick of Terry Fontenot’s tenure in Atlanta.

Jared Verse to Trey Hendrickson

Outside of Dallas Turner, Verse is the most popular pick among Falcons fans, and it’s easy to see why. Verse is a powerful player who can beat tackles with raw strength, quickness, and bend around the edge, which is a lot like Trey Hendrickson, who has become one of the better pass rushers in the league. Ironically, Fontenot was in New Orleans next to Mickey Loomis when the Saints GM drafted both Lattimore and Hendrickson.

Laiatu Latu to Maxx Crosby

Latu, Verse, and Turner is the trio I keep seeing. Latu is more of a technical pass rusher compared to Verse and Turner, though. At 6-5, 259 pounds, the UCLA product resembles Maxx Crosby in stature, but Crosby is one of the five best pass rushers in the game. Jordan Reid comparing Latu to him is quite the compliment, and if he turns out to be Crosby, the Falcons would’ve found their premier pass rusher for the next decade and maybe the best in the organization’s history.

Photographer: Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire


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