With the college football season coming to an end and the combine coming up, I figured now would be a good time for a mock draft with the current draft position cemented. Trades are so hard to predict, but once again, this is what I would do, not what I think the team will do.
1st Round (Pick 16) – Falcons Select: EDGE AJ Epenesa, Iowa
I hate to follow the crowd, but this pick makes way too much sense. Epenesa is incredibly strong, and would provide an immediate edge to this defensive line. Grady Jarrett would be giddy with this choice; there’s no chance he sees as many double teams with Epenesa lined up across from Takk McKinley. The Iowa product doesn’t have the patented “bend” we always hear so much about, but a pro comparison I heard about him that I like is Detroit DE Trey Flowers. Flowers was grading out in the top 10 against the run and as a pass rusher in his final season with the Patriots. If Epenesa can do that for Atlanta, he’ll be the steal of the draft.
Falcons Trade: 2020 3rd Round Pick (Pick 78), 2021 2nd Round Pick, 2021 4th Round Pick
Panthers Trade: 2nd Round Pick (Pick 38)
We’ve seen the strategy of snagging extra 2nd round picks pay off big time for teams like the Colts, and this year is no different. In this mock (pre-national championship), I had us moving up for Isaiah Simmons. That’s out of our range now, so this is the new wave. In a loaded draft class with a team that’s built to win now, I think trading up in this class is crucial. We already stole a pick from the Patriots, and three picks will give this team a lot of cheap & quality depth. I think our 2nd round pick next season will be much later than 17th, so I’m willing to roll the dice here.
2nd Round (Pick 38) – Falcons Select: EDGE/LB K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
A guy who has flown up draft boards since November, Chaisson seems picture perfect for this Falcons defense. He is crazy explosive coming out of the defensive backfield. With Vic Beasley’s departure likely, the Falcons need a speed rusher. Chaisson has an opportunity to be an immediate upgrade and start day 1. Not only is he crazy good at getting after the QB, but he also has excellent gap discipline and can be an effective run stuffer. With a great combine, Chaisson could be shooting up draft boards and even force the Falcons to take him in the first round.
2nd Round (Pick 47) – Falcons Select: RB JK Dobbins, Ohio State
With my offseason plan, the Falcons say goodbye to Devonta Freeman. That leaves us with Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and Qadree Ollison pending none of those guys get cut. Not exactly an inspiring backfield for a team that already ranks 30th in rushing. JK Dobbins can flip that narrative on its head (if Dirk Koetter ever decides to establish the run). One word to describe this guy: fluid. He can straight up move through holes. He’s explosive and shifty, which makes him the perfect back in our zone rushing scheme. Derrick Henry has re-vitalized the running back position, and it could push Dobbins up draft boards.
2nd Round (Pick 55) – Falcons Select: DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
This defensive line gets a lot better in the first two rounds. A mountain of a man at 6’7 and 312 pounds, Davis is the finishing piece next to Epenesa to form a four-man front of McKinley, Jarrett, Davis, and Epenesa. His size and wingspan will command a lot of attention, and the reason I love Davis is because he reminds me a lot of one of my favorite defensive players: Arik Armstead. Armstead is 6’8, so he’s a bit taller than Davis, but he can create the same type of havoc.
4th Round (Pick 109) – Falcons Select: G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
The best way to describe Stenberg: Mean. Standing 6’6, he’s a bit on the larger side for a guard. He already moves well at the point of attack with run blocking, and if his pass blocking improves, he could easily outplay this draft position. Stenberg provides an immediate upgrade at the left guard position, the weakest spot on this Falcons roster.
5th Round (Pick 140) Falcons Select: TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
My offseason plan has us saying goodbye to Luke Stocker. With Austin Hooper being priority #1, the Falcons still need some quality depth behind him. Jaeden Graham has looked promising, but Hopkins is an athletic freak and a steal at this junction. He runs excellent routes and has crazy RAC ability, but he needs to work on seeing the ball into his hands. He’s not going to be a tough blocker like Stocker, but if this team isn’t going to run the ball, they might as well add a weapon in the passing game.
7th Round (Pick 206) Falcons Select: CB Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern
*HOMER PICK ALERT*, Kindle Vildor is my boy, and he was a projected 2nd round pick before this season began after grading out as the best corner in college football last season by PFF. He had an average season in 2019-2020, so his stock has fallen into the later rounds. He’s been tested a lot in Georgia Southern’s scheme, but his technique and fluidity can’t be coached, and he looks NFL ready. I think Atlanta’s cornerback situation is actually pretty solid; I liked what I saw out of Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver. However, you can never have enough quality DBs, and I like Vildor with the Falcons last choice in the draft.