NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his "Grade A" draft yesterday, making picks for each team for the first three rounds. In this piece he plays general manager and attempts to make selections based on the best interest all 32 NFL franchises. His picks for the Atlanta Falcons might raise a few eyebrows.
Kiper made sure to note it's "NOT A MOCK DRAFT" at all. It's his preference at each pick. Here's who he has going to Atlanta.
Round 1 (No. 30): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Round 2 (No. 60): Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
Round 3 (No. 92): Brian Winters, G, Kent State
Let me start out by saying these are subpar picks for the Falcons. He even projected a few trades, and despite the news of Thomas Dimitroff and co. looking to move up, he kept the status quo and went with the second-best tight end in the draft for their first-round selection.
If Zach Ertz is drafted at No. 30, I'll go ahead and say I'm not on board with the decision. He's a talented prospect with the ability to take over when Tony Gonzalez departs (which I'm still convinced is never occurring). Can he cover receivers or pressure the quarterback? Probably not. The Falcons do not need the second-best tight end in Round 1.
Next, we have the Honey Badger. Yes, the name that a decent amount of fans continue to clamor for, ignoring any shred of wisdom laid out by the team's strategy in prior years. Multiple failed drugs tests, an arrest and a dismissal from his college team? "Count us in!" shouted Mike Smith, sprinting to the podium. "WE GOT HONEY BADGER AW YEAH!" Completely plausible scenario, because head coaches announce the picks and stuff.
The Falcons are not drafting Mathieu. They aren't. I often tweet/comment about Atlanta being a suitor for his services, but it's purely in jest, in case you're still wondering. Am I aware they brought him in for a private workout? Of course. Does that sway my opinion at all? Not in the slightest. Dave likely possesses a similar chance of making the team (he's getting close to a breakthrough, though).
Brian Winters isn't a household name because he played for Kent State. While he started at left and right tackle in college, his athleticism projects him to be a guard at the next level. Grabbing him late in Round 3 would be a good value pick. Can't argue too much with that selection. The offensive line needs more depth.
So, one out of three picks from Kiper were adequate. I'm under the impression the Falcons will take a cornerback in Round 1, whether it be at No. 30 or after trading up. Expect the position to be addressed early. What do you think of Kiper's GM prowess?