Round 1, Pick 14: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Ryan Schraeder’s play fell off a cliff in 2018. While there is a possibility that he rebounds next season, Jonah Williams being available at 14th overall seems like too good a value to pass up. The three-year starter at Alabama is as safe a pick as they come and should be ready to contribute as a starter year one. This could allow the Falcons to move on from Schraeder and allocate some of the funds to the other side of the ball. Atlanta would also have one of the finest Tackle duos in the NFL for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 45: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
Dexter Lawrence is another top 10 talent whose value is projected to take a massive hit after a failed drug test forced him to watch his teammates achieve greatness without him. However, he should be able to contribute day one and immediately upgrade the Falcons’ defensive line. Pairing him up alongside another former Tiger in Grady Jarrett in the middle of the D-line would help plug up opposing run games.
Round 3, Pick 79: Charles Omenihu, EDGE, Texas
The Falcons have a dire need for a pass rusher, and Charles Omenihu gives them a high-quality option in the third round. Omenihu stepped up big time as a Senior for Texas, logging 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss en route to earning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. He is a big-time riser candidate during the draft process, featuring a complete game with no glaring weaknesses and offers the Falcons a replacement for Vic Beasley.
Round 4, Pick 117: Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky
It makes just about zero sense for the Falcons to bring back Tevin Coleman given the fat contract extension the team already issued to Devonta Freeman. Coleman will be finding a new home this offseason, and the Falcons will be in need of a replacement. With Freeman proving to be injury-prone, the Falcons will want to make sure they bring in a talented back. Benny Snell Jr. provides excellent value in the 4th round. The star Kentucky back had three straight 1,000 yard seasons in the SEC and is talented enough to be a lead back down the road.
Round 4, Pick 138: Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas
The Falcons are blessed with a ton of talent at the receiver position. However, outside of their starting 3, the group experiences a severe fall-off in talent. Justin Hardy and Marvin Hall are free agents, and Mohamed Sanu is not getting any younger, so it may be time to add one more to start developing. Bringing in Lil’Jordan Humphrey gives the Falcons tremendous value in the 4th Round and a likely future NFL starting receiver. Not only did Humphrey have the best name in college football, but he was also one of the best receivers.
Round 5, Pick 153: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
Alex Mack is a stud. However, he is also 33 years old. He still has quality years ahead of him, but if Erik McCoy can handle interior line duties elsewhere, he is worth drafting now. McCoy has actually been compared by some to Alex Mack. I doubt he is available this late in the Draft, but the simulator gave him to me, so I had no choice but to take him here.
Round 5, Pick 173: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
Instead of using nearly $3 million in cap space like the Falcons did on Matt Schaub last season, why not draft a young QB with potential? We all know Matt Ryan is the guy, but Minshew showed enough promise with Washington State to pique teams’ interest for the NFL Draft. Minshew finished fifth in the Heisman voting last season. He could be an intriguing project for the Falcons late in the 5th Round.
Round 6, Pick 188: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Mitch Hyatt had a great career at Clemson, but many are doubting his potential in the NFL, with many citing strength issues. Hyatt still was voted the top lineman in the ACC in both 2017 and 2018 and would present some upside for line depth at the least, which is all you can ask for this late in the draft. Some believe he may be better suited for the interior line at the next level, so that would give the Falcons another body to compete for a Guard spot.
Round 7, Pick 232: Deshaun Davis, MLB, Auburn
Deshaun Davis had 112 tackles for the Auburn Tigers last season, with 15 for a loss. He may be facing going undrafted because he is undersized. However, he is worthy of a flyer from Dan Quinn to add some more depth to the linebacking core. He showed some promise in the Senior Bowl, racking up eight tackles.
I used Matt Miller’s Big Board on the Fanspeak NFL Mock Draft simulator, and these were the results. I tried to rebuild the interior of the team on both sides of the ball. While six out of the nine draft picks are on the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons have to make cost-effective moves on that side and continue building while they owe the combination of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Devonta Freeman $43 million next season, and that amount skyrockets going into 2020. The Falcons need to use their cap space on the defensive side of the ball, and there could not be a better group than this year’s free agency class defensively. Demarcus Lawrence, Trey Flowers, Brandon Graham, Jadaveon Clowney, Dee Ford, and Frank Clark will all be up for grabs as EDGE rushers. The Falcons will also need to re-sign Grady Jarrett. There will be talent available at nearly every position on defense, and that is where the Falcons should allocate their funds.