Jake’s Final Big Board for the 2021 NFL Draft (Defense)

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The 2021 NFL draft is bound to be one of the strangest in NFL History. This is seemingly an exceptional quarterback class, and one of the best tight end prospects in history is also in the mix. There is a lack of a usual big-time edge rusher at the top of draft boards. In my opinion, the class itself is very talented, but nobody knows how NFL front offices will have these players ranked.

You have to consider with no combine due to COVID, and some guys sitting out, every team’s board will be a little different. For the Falcons, I’ll be doing my best to consider the team’s need and scheme fit, but mostly I’m going to stick with players that I think will be the most productive in the NFL regardless of the situation. The player’s positional ranking and overall ranking via TheDraftNetwork will be listed to the right of their name. If you want to read my thoughts about the offensive prospects, you can find that below:

 

Jake’s Final Big Board for the 2021 NFL Draft (Offense)

 

Interior Defensive Line:

 

IDL1 Christian Barmore, Alabama (Position Rank: 1, Overall Rank: 28)

IDL2 Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (Position Rank: 4, Overall Rank: 68)

IDL3 Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (Position Rank: 3, Overall Rank: 54)

IDL4 Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (Position Rank: 2, Overall Rank: 42)

IDL5 Alim McNeill, North Carolina State (Position Rank: 9, Overall Rank: 111)

IDL6 Jay Tufele, USC (Position Rank: 7, Overall Rank: 100)

IDL7 Tommy Togiai, Ohio State (Position Rank: 5, Overall Rank: 72)

IDL8 Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas (Position Rank: 39, Overall Rank: 510)

IDL9 Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh (Position Rank: 10, Overall Rank: 113)

IDL10 Tyler Shelvin, LSU (Position Rank: 8, Overall Rank: 100)

IDL11 Marvin Wilson, Florida State (Position Rank: 11, Overall Rank: 124)

IDL12 Marlon Tuipulotu, USC (Position Rank: 6, Overall Rank: 98) 

IDL13 Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA (Position Rank: 12, Overall Rank: 135)

IDL14 Bobby Brown, Texas A&M (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 190)

IDL15 Darius Stills, West Virginia (Position Rank: 19, Overall Rank: 288)

IDL16 TaQuon Graham, Texas (Position Rank: 22, Overall Rank: 327)

IDL17 Tedarrell Slaton, Florida (Position Rank: 13, Overall Rank: 173)

 

I won’t go over all of these guys. There’s a pretty substantial drop-off after the top four guys in this draft, and with the Falcons moving to a multiple-front look, not every guy will be a scheme fit. I really like Christian Barmore; even though he was only a rotational guy at Alabama, he’s a monster and should contribute to almost any NFL team immediately. Milton Williams has been the talk of the draft process. His physical gifts are almost unbelievable, and while only having ten TFLs in 2020 is worrisome, you can’t ignore that he is a physical specimen. In the right system, he could be an All-Pro player selected on day two.

Daviyon Nixon falls into that category as well, he needs a decent amount of seasoning, but he could be a massive steal. Also, I’m buying the Jonathan Marshall stock — he was absolutely out of his mind at his pro day. My favorite later rounds sleepers — along with Marshall — are Alim McNeill, Tyler Shelvin, Jaylen Twyman, and Marvin Wilson — my favorite being McNeill. He’s a powerful run stuffer with the athletic upside to develop his pass-rushing skills as a true three-down player. Marvin Wilson may have been the victim of some bad coaching at Florida State, and I’d be willing to roll the dice on a guy who was once a suspected top-ten pick in this draft. Marlon Tuipulotu only gets a knock because he isn’t much of a scheme fit in Atlanta. I like Darius Stills as a late-round project rotation guy; he’s very agile for a man of his size.

 

Edge Rusher

 

EDGE1 Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (Position Rank: 3, Overall Rank: 21)

EDGE2 Jayson Oweh, Penn State (Position Rank: 4, Overall Rank: 32)

EDGE3 Jaelan Phillips, Miami (Position Rank: 1, Overall Rank: 17)

EDGE4 Joe Tryon, Washington (Position Rank: 5, Overall Rank: 46)

EDGE5 Kwity Paye, Michigan (Position Rank: 2, Overall Rank: 20)

EDGE6 Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest (Position Rank: 9, Overall Rank: 57)

EDGE7 Joseph Ossai, Texas (Position Rank: 8, Overall Rank: 53)

EDGE8 Payton Turner, Houston (Position Rank: 10, Overall Rank: 58)

EDGE9 Gregory Rousseau, Miami (Position Rank: 7, Overall Rank: 52)

EDGE10 Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt (Position Rank: 18, Overall Rank: 120) 

EDGE11 Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma (Position Rank: 6, Overall Rank: 50)

EDGE12 Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh (Position Rank: 19, Overall Rank: 127)

EDGE13 Janarius Robinson, Florida State (Position Rank: 11, Overall Rank: 83)

EDGE14 Victor Dimukeje, Duke (Position Rank: 14, Overall Rank: 112)

EDGE15 Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 116)

EDGE16 Cameron Sample, Tulane (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 117)

EDGE17 Patrick Johnson, Tulane (Position Rank: 20, Overall Rank: 170)

EDGE18 Quincy Roche, Miami (Position Rank: 12, Overall Rank: 88)

EDGE19 Jordan Smith, UAB (Position Rank: 13, Overall Rank: 106)

EDGE20 Shaka Toney, Penn State (Position Rank: 19, Overall Rank: 170)

EDGE21 Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 147)

EDGE22 Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame (Position Rank: 16, Overall Rank: 121)

EDGE23 Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa (Position Rank: 18, Overall Rank: 153)

EDGE23 Chauncey Golston, Iowa (Prospect Rank: 17, Overall Rank: 151)

 

Overall, I really like this group as a whole; they all bring something to the table, which is why this is usually the position with the most parity. Even with guys like Rashad Weaver, Elerson Smith, and Shaka Toney sitting a bit low — I like their potential. Once again, not going to go over all of these guys, but this is a pretty deep group without the top-end talent of past classes. Azeez Ojulari’s bend and physical gifts make him the best edge in this class to me, and he’d be a home run pick if the Falcons move back into the back half of the first round.

Some team will get clowned for drafting Jayson Oweh because he didn’t have any sacks in 2020, but he is an incredible athlete that is already a plus player against the run. I think he could develop into a monster in the right scheme. I like Jaelan Phillips as a player and scheme fit, but his medicals worry me. Joe Tryon is my big sleeper in round two, and I think he could be an incredible fit for the Falcons. Patrick Jones, Patrick Johnson, and Hamilcar Rashed are my big sleepers — especially going into day three. Dayo Odeyingbo and Carlos Basham are two other names to watch for the Falcons — both guys can play inside-out and move all across the defensive front.

 

Linebacker

 

LB1 Jamin Davis, Kentucky (Position Rank: 4, Overall Rank: 30)

LB2 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Position Rank: 2, Overall Rank: 19)

LB3 Zaven Collins, Tulsa (Position Rank: 3, Overall Rank: 23)

LB4 Micah Parsons, Penn State (Position Rank: 1, Overall Rank: 14)

LB5 Jabril Cox, LSU (Position Rank: 7, Overall Rank: 59)

LB6 Baron Browning, Ohio State (Position Rank: 5, Overall Rank: 43)

LB7 Nick Bolton, Missouri (Position Rank: 6, Overall Rank: 49)

LB8 Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (Position Rank: 9, Overall Rank: 80)

LB9 Cameron McGrone, Michigan (Position Rank: 10, Overall Rank: 102)

LB10 Pete Werner, Ohio State (Position Rank: 8, Overall Rank: 77)

LB11 Monty Rice, Georgia (Position Rank: 13, Overall Rank: 156)

LB12 Charles Snowden, Virginia (Position Rank: 14, Overall Rank: 163)

LB13 Derrick Barnes, Purdue (Position Rank: 11, Overall Rank: 126)

LB14 Nick Niemann, Iowa (Position Rank: 20, Overall Rank: 261)

LB15 Dylan Moses, Alabama (Position Rank: 12, Overall Rank: 136)

LB16 Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M (Position Rank: 24, Overall Rank: 294)

LB17 Caleb Kelly, Oklahoma (Position Rank: 32, Overall Rank: 359)

 

Jamin Davis could easily be the best linebacker to come out of this class, and his upside makes him my top prospect. He does a little bit of everything very well, and he’s still improving. Many of these guys helped themselves with crazy pro days, but I still think Owusu-Koramoah is the cream of this crop as far as coverage goes. I’m a little bearish on Micah Parsons, I’m not sure where he fits, but you can’t deny his pure athletic ability.

I think Jabril Cox could be the best WILL linebacker in this class, but he was atrocious against the run at LSU. Browning, Bolton, Surratt, McGrone, Werner, and Rice could all be interesting MIKE options for the Falcons, or even as a SAM in a “see ball, get ball” type role to help Deion Jones up the middle. I do want to talk about Dylan Moses. He has all of the potential in the world, but he looked very timid coming off of his injury, and he was reportedly playing injured in 2020. Still, he was very grabby in coverage and didn’t look like he knew his assignment on film plenty of times. I still believe in his potential, but his stock has fallen pretty far.

 

Cornerback:

 

CB1 Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (Position Rank: 3, Overall Rank: 22)

CB2 Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (Position Rank: 1, Overall Rank: 9)

CB3 Eric Stokes, Georgia (Position Rank: 5, Overall Rank: 35)

CB4 Jaycee Horn, South Carolina (Position Rank: 2, Overall Rank: 11)

CB5 Asante Samuel Jr, Florida State (Position Rank: 7, Overall Rank: 60)

CB6 Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky (Position Rank: 6, Overall Rank: 48)

CB7 Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech (Position Rank: 4, Overall Rank: 34)

CB8 Aaron Robinson, UCF (Position Rank: 8, Overall Rank: 61)

CB9 Elijah Molden, Washington (Position Rank: 9, Overall Rank: 70)

CB10 Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse (Position Rank: 10, Overall Rank: 78)

CB11 Paulson Adebo, Stanford (Position Rank: 12, Overall Rank: 91)

CB12 Tyson Campbell, Georgia (Position Rank: 11, Overall Rank: 81)

CB13 Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota (Position Rank: 13, Overall Rank: 96)

CB14 Trill Williams, Syracuse (Position Rank: 16, Overall Rank: 115)

CB15 Keith Taylor Jr, Washington (Position Rank: 14, Overall Rank: 101)

CB16 Olaijah Griffin, USC (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 104)

CB17 Robert Rochelle, Central Arkansas (Prospect Rank: 17, Overall Rank: 124)

CB18 Tre Brown, Oklahoma (Position Rank: 19, Overall Rank: 139)

CB19 Rodarious Williams, Oklahoma State (Position Rank: 20, Overall Rank: 140)

CB20 Ambry Thomas, Michigan (Position Rank: 21, Overall Rank: 144)

CB21 Shaun Wade, Ohio State (Position Rank: 18, Overall Rank: 138)

CB22 Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina (Position Rank: 18, Overall Rank: 123)

CB23 Nate Hobbs, Illinois (Prospect Rank: 58, Overall Rank: 506)

CB24 Marco Wilson, Florida (Prospect Rank: 22, Overall Rank: 149)

CB25 Kary Vincent Jr, LSU (Position Rank: 23, Overall Rank: 158)

CB26 Tre Norwood, Oklahoma (Position Rank: 33, Overall Rank: 224)

CB27 Brandon Stephens, SMU (Prospect Rank: 37, Overall Rank: 256)

CB28 Zech McPherson, Texas Tech (Prospect Rank: 57, Overall Rank: 500)

CB29 Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh (Prospect Rank: N/A, Overall Rank: N/A)

 

Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to evaluate, and there are a ton of names that I didn’t get to watch. Greg Newsome II is still my CB1, and I will crash and burn on this hill if I have to. He has the best hips in the class, incredible ball skills, and top-notch athleticism. I like Patrick Surtain, but when scouts say he lacks “top-end speed,” that concerns me, though he impressed at his pro day. Jaycee Horn has all of the tools, but he needs some work. When he gets beat, his first instinct is to grab, which won’t fly in the NFL.

There are impact players all over this board, so I like Atlanta’s chances of taking a few shots at the position. Melifonwu, Adebo, St-Juste, and Rochelle are probably my favorite sleepers. With Caleb Farley, I don’t see the Falcons taking a swing on a developmental project that may not be healthy to start the season when they need someone to contribute right now. Cornerbacks usually struggle as rookies, so taking Farley, even in the second round, would be a massive roll of the dice.

 

Safety:

 

S1 Richie Grant, UCF (Position Rank: 4, Overall Rank: 71)

S2 Jevon Holland, Oregon (Position Rank: 2, Overall Rank: 65)

S3 Trevon Moehrig, TCU (Position Rank: 1, Overall Rank: 24)

S4 James Wiggins, Cincinnati (Position Rank: 12, Overall Rank: 145)

S5 Jamar Johnson, Indiana (Position Rank: 3, Overall Rank: 66)

S6 Andre Cisco, Syracuse (Position Rank: 9, Overall Rank: 114)

S7 Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State (Position Rank: 6, Overall Rank: 94)

S8 Jacoby Stevens, LSU (Position Rank: 10, Overall Rank: 128)

S9 Ar’Darius Washington, TCU (Position Rank: 8, Overall Rank: 108)

S10 Caden Sterns, Texas (Position Rank: 15, Overall Rank: 154)

S11 Talanoa Hufanga, USC (Position Rank: 11, Overall Rank: 131)

S12 Tyree Gillespie, Missouri (Positon Rank: 7, Overall Rank: 107)

S13 Devine Deablo, Virginia Tech (Position Rank: 5, Overall Rank: 90)

S14 Darrick Forrest, Cincinnati (Position Rank: 14, Overall Rank: 186)

S15 Tariq Thompson, San Diego State (Position Rank: 16, Overall Rank: 198)

S16 Richard LeCounte III, Georgia (Position Rank: 13, Overall Rank: 146)

S17 Paris Ford, Pittsburgh (Position Rank: 19, Overall Rank: 228)

 

Safety is another weird position to evaluate, I like many of these guys, but they aren’t all created equal. Some guys are pure box safeties, some are pure high safeties, and some guys are hybrids. I could see the Falcons double-dipping into this group, but it’s a good class overall. It’s close between Moehrig and Grant for my top safety, but Grant’s flexibility on the boundary and in the nickel gives him the edge.

I really love Jevon Holland, James Wiggins, and Jamar Johnson as hybrid safety options — Holland reminds me of a Desmond King-type player that could be an elite nickel defender. There are plenty of ballhawks available like Andre Cisco, Ar’Darius Washington, and Paris Ford that could be later-round lottery tickets as well. Nasirildeen, Stevens, and Forrest are all hard-hitting safeties that tested very well — so I could see the Falcons targeting one as a replacement if Erik Harris doesn’t pan out. Watch out for Tariq Thompson — Kyle Hoke, the son of Atlanta’s secondary coach Jon Hoke, was his safeties coach at San Diego State. He could be another Aztec coming in, but he tested pretty poorly at his Pro Day.

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