Bleacher Report’s draft guru, Matt Miller, recently went through the latest rumors for all 32 teams as the NFL draft approaches. Given the ongoing pandemic, this is going to be a much different process than it has been in the past, with teams limited to just video contact, unable to conduct physicals, and missing out on Pro-Days. It’s going to show what each scouting department is made of, and in a must-nail draft for the Falcons, Thomas Dimitroff better have the utmost faith in his team.
With most of free agency in the rearview, the Falcons still have a bevy of needs to fill, primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Even after the addition of Dante Fowler Jr., Atlanta must add to their pass rush, and with Adrian Clayborn and Jack Crawford departing earlier this week in free agency, they could also use at least one more body on their interior defensive line, which makes a name like Javon Kinlaw especially appealing, given his athletic profile and versatility. He’s the guy I’ve seen mocked most to the Falcons (albeit primarily by fans), and for a good reason. Kinlaw would help round out the best defensive line Atlanta has had in ages, but I’m not so confident he will be around at pick #16, and this information from Matt Miller makes him feel even more unrealistic.
Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw are the two prized defensive tackles that will be taken in the first round. Many believe Brown will be the first off the board, but Kinlaw has the kind of sky-high potential that nobody should be surprised if someone reached for him inside the Top 10. According to Miller, the Cardinals, who are selecting 8th overall, have eyes for Brown if he makes it past the top seven picks. Then, with the 9th pick, Miller mentions the Jaguars are expected to go defensive tackle and cornerback with their two first-round selections. Given Jeff Okudah and Isaiah Simmons will both likely be off the board by then, Kinlaw would make the most sense, leaving the Falcons out of luck.
The situation is far from a guarantee, and Miller does not say any of the teams selecting from 10-15 have interest in a defensive tackle, but Kinlaw is such a promising prospect, one of those franchises might snag him as the best player available. I wouldn’t call it a pipe dream that the Falcons land the South Carolina defensive tackle, but I’d say it is a longshot, which is why Miller tells us their focus is on the cornerback position, and C.J. Henderson out of Florida is presumed to be the best prospect left on the board at 16.
Atlanta doesn’t have to take a cornerback in Round 1, even though I do believe it to be the most significant hole on their roster, considering they are in a division with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, along with some of the best-receiving cores in football. They have to add at least two guys to this group before the start of the season, whether that be through the draft or free agency, and one of them needs to be ready to start from day one. With that being said, this is an extremely deep cornerback class, so if Atlanta decided to go with the best player available, they should be able to find a starting-caliber corner in Round 2.
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