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Mock drafts are running rampant throughout the internet these days. You can't search for anything related to the Atlanta Falcons without seeing some type of draft prediction pop up. So, it's time to fall in line.
Instead of laying out the entire draft board for the Falcons, I figured I'd keep my first mock of the year short. Sticking with the first three rounds, I tried to address key areas of need for Atlanta with consideration to the type of players we've seen the franchise draft under the current regime.
Feel free to comment below, but keep it civil. You're not going to love every mock draft you see, and every mock draft is probably going to be wrong for the most part once you get past the early picks. That's just how it goes. All we can do is discuss what the Falcons truly need to improve in 2013. Have a look.
Round 1: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
One of the few recurring names we're seeing these days for the Falcons, Eifert is arguably the top tight end in the 2013 draft class. Some will say Zach Ertz is worthy of that praise, but I like Eifert because he ran a 4.68 40 at the NFL Combine and Ertz ran a 4.76 and the faster 40 is all the matters ever. Glad that's settled.
Eifert provides a huge red-zone target for Matt Ryan. At 6-foot-5, 250 lbs., Eifert is almost identical in those measurements to Tony Gonzalez. He's reliable in the receiving game, and if even Gonzalez comes back (which I still believe he will), Eifert will have a year to learn under the wing of a Hall of Famer.
A team captain and Mackey Award winner at Notre Dame, plenty of reports discuss his competitive nature and desire to better himself. Hmm...hard-working player who loves winning and shows leadership skills. Does that fit the bill of a Thomas Dimitroff selection? I'd say so.
Addressing the pass rush would be a good option as well. I considered throwing Datone Jones in this spot. Maybe that will change as well approach April.
Round 2: John Jenkins, DT, UGA
Surely all you Dawg fans will be on board with Jenkins. A former junior college transfer, Jenkins stepped up for UGA over the past two seasons and proved to be a monster in the center of the defensive line. He can eat single blocks, take on double teams, and plug up the entire middle with his size.
Isn't Jenkins a 3-4 NT, though? Exactly. Here's the start of my advocacy for the Falcons moving towards a 3-4 scheme going forward. From my count, 13 teams ran a 3-4 defense in the NFL last season, and a few others threw in 3-4 packages at times. It seems to be the way the league is progressing, and Mike Nolan is familiar with that system.Jenkins would step right in as the nose tackle. Both Super Bowl teams run a 3-4. Just saying.
Jenkins' projection is all over the map. I've seen him taken off the board in Round 1, and sometimes fall to Round 3 in mock drafts. It's hard to pinpoint his landing spot, but the Falcons would welcome him if they want to go in a 3-4 direction.
Round 3: John Simon, DE/LB, Ohio State
The Falcons finally broke the streak of avoiding Big 10 players under the Dimitroff era in 2012, so we can finally start including that region in mock drafts. Hopefully you're somewhat familiar with Simon. Everyone around his conference certainly is.
Simon was a two-time captain for the Buckeyes, only the eighth in Ohio State's history. The 2012 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year showed great leadership during his college tenure. Urban Meyer even said he might name his next child after Simon. That's how much of an impact he had on his team.
Going off the previous statements about moving towards a 3-4, Simon could rush outside. His size leaves some scouts to question his effectiveness at the next level, but he clearly has the strength and aggressiveness to make it. He played several positions on defense, which would allow him to move around depending on what an NFL team asks of him.
Simon is a personal favorite, so I may be a little biased. Still, there's no denying his leadership or tenacity on the field, facets Dimitroff loves. His projection is rather skewed as well. One scout said he couldn't see Simon being drafted until Round 5. Another article I saw has him going in Round 2. The guys over at Land-Grant Holy Land seem to believe Simon is a good fit for the Falcons as well.