PFF’s three-round mock draft has the Falcons selecting two versatile defensive prospects

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In PFF’s Seth Galina’s most recent mock draft, the decisions made were with the preconceived notion that the Falcons want to give Matt Ryan all the tools necessary to make a few more runs at a Super Bowl. Ryan’s immovable dead cap figure was a driving factor in Galina’s thought process for Atlanta passing on the opportunity to have their pick of two of Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, or Mac Jones.

4th pick, Kyle Pitts

The Falcons have been speculated to go with Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Kyle Pitts, and multiple trade down scenarios with their fourth overall pick. In my opinion, I wouldn’t be upset with any of the fourth aforementioned situations, so instead of regurgitating my same analysis of the former Gator, here is Galina’s.

“Atlanta’s passing offense was secretly mediocre the past two seasons, finishing 12th and 14th in 2019 and 2020, respectively, in expected points added per play. That’s quite the fall off from where they were the previous three years. One player is not going to fix their defense, but Kyle Pitts has the chance to fix their offense in a hurry.”

“Pitts is arguably the best all-around receiving option in the draft, regardless of his tight end designation, as Sam Monson writes: “Pitts is different. He is a tweener without the negatives. He is the best pure tight end in this class, but if he had never played inline at all and was coming into the draft as a 6-foot-5, 245-pound “X receiver,” he would be the best wide receiver available in a historically great class. He would be seen as Calvin Johnson 2.0.”

“He’s basically an “X receiver” playing tight end, so then the question becomes: Can he block? PFF’s Ben Linsey provides us with the answer, writing that “the lowest PFF pass-blocking grade of his three seasons at Florida was a still respectable 69.6 overall, and he allowed a total of just seven pressures across 105 pass-blocking snaps. His work as a run-blocker was a little more hit and miss, but he enters the NFL off the back of his best season in that regard, and his tape shows a player who is willing and also capable of some high-level blocks. There is nothing there that makes you think he is simply not able to hold his own in that area of the game. He is certainly the equal of most tight ends entering the league in 2021.”

35th pick, Jayson Oweh

This edge rusher class has the highest ceiling of any in recent memory but one of the lowest floors due to the incredible athleticism and minimal refinement in technique. Jayson Oweh is exactly this, but schematically, the fit is there with Dean Pees’ defense. He wasn’t utilized to maximize his physical gifts at Penn State and should’ve been on his feet, not with his hand in the ground. What makes the fit great is he can immediately challenge the starting outside linebackers for playing time while still being able to kick down to rush from the interior. His elite measurements were eye-popping at Penn State’s pro day — running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at 6’5″ and 257-pounds.

  • Arm: 34 1/2 (88th)
  • Vertical: 40 (96th)
  • Broad: 134 (100th)
  • Bench: 21 reps (39th)
  • 40-yard: 4.39 (100th)
  • Short shuttle: 4.15 (95th)
  • 3-cone: 6.84 (96th)

Many Falcons fans have PTSD from Vic Beasley, who was equally as impressive physically and as developed as a pass rusher. I believe the key difference is the regime and the fact that Oweh is already an elite run-defender who gives maximum effort every play — unlike Beasley. This from Galina:

“He’s such a dynamite run-stopping defender, using elite quickness on his way to a whopping 21 run stops and an 89.8 run-defense grade in 2020. That grade was good enough for third-best in the country among edge defenders with at least 100 run-defense snaps.”

68th pick, Jamien Sherwood

In 2020, Sherwood, a junior, had 75 tackles, three for loss, a sack, three passes defended, and two fumble recoveries in 11 games played. He was tasked with a lot of short and mid-zone responsibilities in coverage for the Tigers while occasionally dropping deep. The versatility is more apparent in the run game as he’s the quintessential nickel linebacker, willing to stick his nose in where most safeties wouldn’t. Sherwood was tough and tenacious when playing in the box for Auburn, projecting him to be a third safety whose responsibilities at first would be in nickel or dime packages.

Three versatile prospects, two at positions of need. Pitts can play inline or split out wide while running any route combination imaginable and still provide average run-blocking. Oweh can line up outside the tight end, tackle, or inside the guard. His run defense is already NFL-caliber, but the coaching staff will be responsible for his development as a pass-rusher. Sherwood is a big-bodied safety, who can play in the box while able to still cover underneath zones in passing situations. Versatility is something the Falcons’ brass did mention when describing who they want on the roster.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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