For whatever reason, The Falcons have shied away from drafting players inside the state of Georgia. There have been opportunities, but Atlanta has not pulled the trigger. Akeem Dent, an inside linebacker from the University of Georgia, is the most recent player to be drafted by the Falcons that hailed from a university in Georgia. That was in 2011.
In 2019, there are players available at positions of need for the Falcons. Atlanta needs help on the offensive line, at tight end, defensive line, secondary, and outside linebacker. Here is a list of draft-worthy players from the beautiful state of Georgia that the Falcons should take a look at:
The most obvious, because he is the most talented, is University of Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. Listed at 5-11, 185 lbs., Baker is a decent size for an NFL corner. What makes Baker stand out is the list of receivers he has shut down while, this will be in all caps to make sure you see it, NOT GIVING UP A TOUCHDOWN OVER A 28 GAME SPAN. That is a two-year span of no-fly zone coverage. With questions concerning the Falcon corners, Baker would be a great fit if he is available.
Alex Mack is a pro-bowl center, but will not be around forever. Lamont would be a potential candidate to replace him. The 6-2, 308 lb, former defensive lineman has positioned himself to make a lot of money. The former Dawg could take over for Mack, or move to a guard spot; which is a HUGE need of the Falcons. Lamont will be a pro’s pro. Hopefully, if given a chance, the Falcons don’t pass up on him.
With uncertainty surrounding former #8 overall pick Vic Beasley, The Falcons are looking for help on the EDGE. D’Andre is a twitchy player who is competitive and plays with a high motor. Walker lacked the production that many expected him to put out. He only had 13 sacks over two years. That will cause Walker to fall in the draft, but the potential could make him a diamond in the rough.
Part of the uncertainty revolving around Vic Beasley is that the Falcons cannot decide where to play him. Is he a defensive end or an outside linebacker? A guy like Ledbetter could make that choice easier on the Dirty Birds. The 6-4, 280 lb Dawg played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, so he mainly stuffed the run and occasionally was able to rush the passer. His lack of sack numbers is due more so to scheme responsibilities than potential. Ledbetter is a guy who can maintain 280 or lose weight depending on if the Falcons see him as an attacking end in a 4-3 or more of a run stuffer. Ledbetter will be available late, and worth taking a chance on.
Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu need a slot receiver that can go get it while blocking. Look no further than Terry Godwin. The 5-11, 185lb former 5-star athlete is not a guy who is going to wow you in the way viral superstars do. But if you need to see what kind of player Godwin is, look no further than the Notre Dame game in 2017. Godwin’s spectacular catch to seal the game is a moment Dawg fans will remember for decades. The play rivals that of “Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott” in my opinion, but that is another hot take for another day. More importantly than that catch, watch how Terry blocks downfield. He will be a running game’s best friend.
The former 5-star tight end out of Buford, Ga is an example of probably needing to stay one more year. Nauta disappointed with a 40 time in the high 4.8 range. That being said, Nauta is a physical blocker with hands that are as good as any receiver. If he is available late, Nauta will be worth a look.
Falcon’s fans know this player because of his brother. But make no mistake about it, Riley Ridley will have an excellent NFL career in his own right. The 6-2, 200lb, receiver experienced somewhat of a breakout junior year as he caught 43 passes for 559 yards and nine touchdowns. Ridley has top-3 round potential and could be a sleeper if the Falcons determine he fits what they are looking for.
There is only one word to describe Mecole Hardman. Speed. Mecole is a burner, running a 4.3 forty. Speed alone will get Mecole drafted, but he is to be considered a project. The former 5-star athlete out of Elbert County came to UGA as a defensive back. He also played QB in high school. Hardman has been learning on the job how to play receiver and has made strides in two short years. However, he is far from polished. He would still be an intriguing player, even if he is not a finished project.
Believe it or not, there are players not from UGA on this list. Anree Saint-Amour is an interesting prospect from Georgia Tech. The 6-3, 245lb, former Yellow Jacket will be more suited to an outside linebacker role, rather than the defensive end position he played for the Jackets. Anree has the “twitchy” label and can run sideline to sideline. Look for him to be a prospect the Falcons pay close attention to.
The hidden gym of Georgia draft prospects is none other than Kennesaw State’s Justin Sumpter. It is hard to be a successful wide receiver in a predominantly triple-option offense, but Sumpter is just that. The 6-3, 215 lb, former Owl has 111 catches, 1989 receiving yards, and 21 touchdowns over his career at a school that does not throw the ball. Can Sumpter be the next Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas? Time will tell, and the Falcons have a chance to reap the benefits.