Falcons take pair of Alabama defenders in ESPN 2-round mock draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Allstate Sugar Bowl

The Falcons are gearing up for the NFL draft. In possession of four top-100 picks, Terry Fontenot has an excellent opportunity to bring in a difference-making rookie class that can help Kirk Cousins and Raheem Morris end the organization’s postseason drought.

There’s been plenty of examples of clubs parlaying an impactful rookie class into a deep playoff run. The Saints did it in 2017 with Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams and Trey Hendrickson, propelling them to a Divisional Round berth. The Titans selected Jeffery Simmons, A.J. Brown, Nate Davis, and David Long during the 2019 NFL Draft en route to an AFC Championship run.

The Falcons have an excellent opportunity to do the same with Kirk Cousins in the fold, along with the No. 8 overall pick and two third-rounders. In the latest mock draft from ESPN’s Field Yates, the draft analyst has Atlanta filling its two biggest roster needs in the first two rounds, taking a pair of Alabama defenders.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

It’s time for some defense, and Turner is the ideal candidate to kick things off on that side of the ball in this draft. Atlanta spent a lot of money in free agency on offense but is desperate for edge help — it was last in pass rush win rate in 2023 (30.9%). Turner is a standout pass-rusher who had 10 sacks last season, showcasing burst and power. New coach Raheem Morris would love this addition and be able to slot him in as a top option right away.

43. Atlanta Falcons

Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Falcons could continue their defensive theme early in this draft, seeking out a cornerback to play opposite of A.J. Terrell. McKinstry is dealing with a foot injury, but indications are that it will not impact his availability for training camp or the season. He had 20 pass breakups over the past two seasons.

If Dallas Turner and Kool-Aid McKinstry are immediate starters for the Falcons on Day 1, I’d feel much better about their chances at a potential postseason run. I just don’t know how wise of a strategy it is to depend on two rookies at two of the most premium positions in today’s game.

I’m not going to pretend to know everything about either prospect, but I do know that hope is never a strategy, and right now, the Falcons’ biggest weakness is its pass rush. Relying on two rookies to bolster that facet of your team involves a lot of hope and prayers.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire


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