Under the radar “workout warriors” the Falcons could target in the 2021 NFL Draft

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With no official combine in 2021, the draft will still feature a few combine warriors. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, these are players who test off the charts athletically, boosting their draft stock. Some guys turn out to be gems, and others turn out to just be freak athletes that never materialize. Vernon Davis turned into an All-Pro, and others like John Ross didn’t see the same success. 

I’ll be using players’ Relative Athletic Score (RAS) designed by @MathBomb of ProFootballNetwork for these evaluations. RAS measures all of the applicable pro day measurements and gives a comparative score for the position the prospect plays. With these numbers being all pro day numbers, we’re likely to see a considerable spike in production. Some of these need to be taken with a grain of salt for that reason. 

Quarterback

Felipe Franks, Arkansas (RAS: 9.56)

Kevin Thomson, Washington (RAS: 8.42)

Ian Book, Notre Dame (RAS: 7.39)

Zac Thomas, App State (RAS: 7.14)

 

There isn’t such a thing as an “under the radar” quarterback prospect for the most part, so I figured I’d go ahead and list who did well. RAS typically doesn’t matter as much for them anyway, as most of them don’t participate in enough drills to generate a score. There is no score for any expected top-five quarterback except for Mac Jones. We may get a score for Fields and Lance after their additional pro days, but they aren’t under the radar. Felipe Franks did very well, and I think he’s worth a shot as a project quarterback somewhere. He has fantastic arm talent, so there may be something there. Kevin Thomson played *checks notes* seven seasons in college, so I don’t see him getting drafted. Ian Book and Zac Thomas did better than I expected, but I don’t think either guy has an NFL arm. They could land on a practice squad.

Running Back

Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State (RAS: 9.89)

Chris Evans, Michigan (RAS: 9.85)

Jake Funk, Maryland (RAS: 9.76)

Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana (RAS: 9.51)

Nathan McCrary, Saginaw Valley (RAS: 9.41)

 

Nwangwu never eclipsed 61 carries at Iowa State, but he posted some awe-inspiring athletic numbers. Don’t be shocked if a team takes a flier on him late. Chris Evans is another guy who had a limited workload, but he made his carries count — averaging over seven yards per attempt. Jake Funk is in that same boat as well, with only 60 carries in 2020 but averaging 8.6 yards per attempt. Elijah Mitchell is one of my favorite sleepers in the class; he has the potential to evolve into a true feature back. If he’s there on day three, the Falcons could easily scoop him up. There isn’t much information on McCrary, but his 4.52 40-yard dash and 8.08 three cones is an excellent time for a back his size.

Fullback

Ben Mason, Michigan (RAS: 8.97)

 

Fullback isn’t a premium position, but I love Ben Mason’s game. He could be a cheap upgrade from Keith Smith, or Arthur Smith could use him as a blocking H-Back. On top of being a great blocker, he’s a really solid athlete.

Wide Receiver

Jacob Harris, UCF (RAS: 9.88)

Jalen Camp, Georgia Tech (RAS: 9.75)

Tarik Black, Texas (RAS: 9.55)

Michael Strachan, Charleston (RAS: 9.22)

Brandon Smith, Iowa (RAS: 9.17)

Simi Fehoko, Stanford (RAS: 9.17)

Kawaan Baker, South Alabama (RAS: 9.08)

Tim Jones, Southern Mississippi (RAS: 9.03)

Brennan Eagles, Texas (RAS: 8.97)

Desmond Fitzpatrick, Cincinnati (RAS: 8.83)

 

Receiver is one of the positions you have to be the most careful when evaluating workout numbers. There is so much more that goes into the position that will determine success. Yes, you can find an Antonio Brown in the sixth round, but receiver feels like it has the highest bust rate. I don’t expect the Falcons to draft a wide receiver until MAYBE day three, but who knows. Even if they don’t, the past regime seemed very fond of diving into the UDFA pool and banking on development.

Tight End

Brock Wright, Notre Dame (RAS: 9.20)

Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (RAS: 9.02)

Briley Moore, Kansas State (RAS: 9.02)

Zach Davidson, Central Missouri (RAS: 8.79)

Luke Farrell, Ohio State (RAS: 8.62)

Hunter Long, Boston College (RAS: 8.59)

 

Kyle Pitts unsurprisingly had the best score of all tight ends, but there are some other solid options available. This is a group I could see the Falcons dipping into at least once if they don’t select Pitts. Tremble and Long are the two highest profile names, and both could develop into solid deep threats. Most of these guys are developmental projects with limited blocking ability and would serve a similar role to Jaeden Graham.

Offensive Tackle

Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa (RAS: 10.00)

Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH) (RAS: 9.90)

Brady Christensen, BYU (RAS: 9.84)

Landon Young, Kentucky (RAS: 9.17)

 

This group was littered with the usual suspects. I don’t see the Falcons targeting an offensive tackle early, but some of these guys could have guard flexibility or serve as a swing tackle. Spencer Brown is an absolute monster, and he could easily go in the second round, especially after dominating the Senior Bowl. Brady Christensen was getting some early hype, and he could go in the second round as well. Landon Young tested very well for a guy who’s 6’7 and 300 pounds, but he’ll need a lot of seasoning before being thrown into NFL Action.

Offensive Guard

Matt Farniok, Nebraska (RAS: 9.90)

Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina (RAS: 9.89)

Chandon Herring, BYU (RAS: 9.84)

Ben Cleveland, Georgia (RAS: 9.63)

Jordan Meredith, Western Kentucky (RAS: 9.35)

Kendrick Green, Illinois (RAS: 9.25)

Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh (RAS: 9.00)

Royce Newman, Ole Miss (RAS: 8.72)

Jared Hocker, Texas A&M (RAS: 8.65)

Jack Anderson, Texas Tech (RAS: 8.58)

 

Trey Smith paced this group with a 9.91, and he’s a guy I could see the Falcons being interested in. I’m not going to talk about all of these guys, but I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the names above is a Falcon in 2021, especially if they don’t spend a high pick on a guy like Creed Humphrey or Wyatt Davis. Out of everyone on here, I could see Kendrick Greene and Jack Anderson having big draft day jumps. Both guys are pretty raw, but there could be something there. I think the former tackle Herring could have the best plug and play potential at guard on this list, so don’t be shocked if the Falcons show some interest.

Center

Quinn Meinerz, UW-Whitewater (RAS: 9.98)

Drew Dalman, Stanford (RAS: 9.90)

Jalein Fisher, Charlotte (RAS: 8.35)

 

You know we love Quinn Meinerz on this website, and while I’m a huge Creed Humphrey fan with the 35th pick, Meinerz could provide a lot of value if he’s available in the third round. Dalman and Fisher are both developmental projects, but Meinerz has plug and play potential.

EDGE

Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (RAS: 9.96)

Jayson Oweh, Penn State (RAS: 9.92)

Payton Turner, Houston (RAS: 9.74)

Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa (RAS: 9.71)

Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State (RAS: 9.58)

Shaka Toney, Penn State (RAS: 9.48)

Janarius Robinson, Florida State (RAS: 9.33)

Joe Tryon, Washington (RAS: 9.29)

 

If you don’t know the name Milton Williams — get familiar with it. He is an incredible athlete, and while he’s still learning the game, I’d love to see him develop under Grady Jarrett. Jayson Oweh isn’t really under the radar, but I wanted to talk about him. Some team will get clowned for drafting him after he had no sacks in 2020, but he generated a lot of pressure and was fantastic at setting the edge against the run. Payton Turner and Elerson Smith both had great Senior Bowl weeks, so I could see them getting drafted a bit higher with their scores helping them out. Joshua Kaindoh was a former top recruit, but injuries have held him back. I like Shaka Toney’s potential, especially on day three. Janarius Robinson needs a little bit of seasoning, but he was a top recruit for a reason as well. I love Joe Tryon; I think he’s a great fit for the Falcons, especially if they get an additional second round pick. He has all the makings of a monster pass rusher.

Interior Defensive Line

Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas (RAS: 9.99)

Bobby Brown, Texas A&M (RAS: 9.82)

TaQuon Graham, Texas (RAS: 9.68)

Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi State (RAS: 9.07)

Alim McNeill, North Carolina State (RAS: 8.52)

Jared Goldwire, Louisville (RAS: 8.49)

Drew Wiley, Kansas State (RAS: 8.26)

 

Jonathan Marshall may have gone undrafted before, but there’s no chance of that now. He’s 6’3, 310 lbs,  put up 36 bench press reps, and ran a 4.88 40-yard dash. He’s a guy who could easily be a massive steal (literally). I really like Alim McNeill; he’s been featured in my mock drafts before. He would be a natural scheme fit and has tons of athleticism and power that just needs to be properly coached.

Linebacker

Jamin Davis, Kentucky (RAS: 9.93)

Pete Werner, Ohio State (RAS: 9.52)

Nick Niemann, Iowa (RAS: 9.51)

Curtis Robinson, Stanford (RAS: 9.23)

Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M (RAS: 9.22)

 

Jamin Davis isn’t under the radar anymore, but I’ve been a fan of his all season — I think he’s the second best linebacker in the class behind Owusu-Koramoah. Pete Werner, Nick Niemann, Curtis Robinson, and Buddy Johnson could all serve as thumping “see ball, get ball” linebackers for the Falcons, allowing Deion Jones to transition to a more natural role off the ball in certain packages.

Cornerback

Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh (RAS: 9.78)

Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse (RAS: 9.70)

Robert Rochelle, Central Arkansas (RAS: 9.65)

Jeremy Bell, Charleston (RAS: 9.64)

Nate Hobbs, Illinois (RAS: 9.61)

Zech McPherson, Texas Tech (RAS: 9.56)

Paulson Adebo, Stanford (RAS: 9.55)

Brandon Stephens, SMU (RAS: 9.20)

 

Cornerback is a group that typically test very well because a lot of guys have the size, length, and athleticism that teams covet. However, like receivers, they have a pretty high bust rate. I’ve been a big fan of Ifeatu Melifonwu for a while, and it’s no surprise he tested well after his brother Obi blew up the combine. I think Ifeatu has better ball skills, so we’ll have to see. Paulson Adebo didn’t play in 2020, but he’s another guy with fantastic ball skills that I really like a lot — he created 27 pass breakups and eight interceptions in two years for Stanford.

Safety

JaCoby Stevens, LSU (RAS: 9.91)

Tyler Coyle, Purdue (RAS: 9.83)

James Wiggins, Cincinnati (RAS: 9.70)

Darrick Forrest, Cincinnati (RAS: 9.69)

Caden Sterns, Texas (RAS: 9.59)

Jevon Holland, Oregon (RAS: 9.54)

 

I liked JaCoby Stevens for the Falcons as a Keanu Neal replacement and sub linebacker in one of my first mock drafts, but he tested off the charts. I think he certainly made himself some money, and he may have more projection as a combo safety than I originally thought. Tyler Coyle has started turning some heads, and while he doesn’t have a ton of turnover production, he projects as a solid safety. James Wiggins was a riser before his pro day, and his versatility makes a lot of sense for Atlanta. The same can be said for Caden Sterns and Jevon Holland — the latter being an exceptional nickel defender. His teammate Darrick Forrest projects more as a box safety but could be a nice value pickup.

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