After coming out of the first round with pass rusher Randy Gregory, I was still interested in trying to acquire defensive upgrades for the Falcons in the annual SB Nation mock draft.
I strongly considered Eric Kendricks out of UCLA and Eli Harold out of Virginia, and I was ready to jump on Maxx Williams at tight end if he was available, given that I think he's far and away the best tight end in the class. When those three players went in front of me in sequence, though, I had to go with a Plan B that I still felt would represent a genuine upgrade. That led me to Eric Rowe.
Based on a recommendation from Scott Carasik at Bleacher Report, I've been watching Rowe throughout this week and have come to genuinely appreciate his talent and athleticism. He spent the last season of his college career at cornerback, but he's more well-suited for a safety gig in the NFL, and he played free safety for three years at Utah. This is a big, hard-tackling safety with good ball skills and excellent straight line speed, and I have to think Dan Quinn could find a lot of creative ways to use him. If the team is serious about moving Dezmen Southward to cornerback, Rowe would give them immediate competition for Charles Godfrey at free safety and a likely starting option for years to come.
You can find Dan Kadar's full write-up and my pick at Mocking The Draft, but here's how he reacted to the selection.
Dan Kadar, This is slightly early for Rowe, but he plays at a highly sought after position. With so many teams needing coverage safeties, it won’t be a surprise to see him go this high in the draft. At Utah, Rowe played both cornerback and safety, but I view him as a safety. Rowe has good size and can stick with bigger receivers and tight ends in man coverage. He has good instincts to make a play on the ball and is a sound tackler. Rowe’s footwork is sketchy at times, but it’s a coachable flaw.:
By selecting Randy Gregory in the first round and nabbing Rowe in the second, the Falcons now have added two talented young players who fill major needs. From here, I'd anticipate the Falcons will try to nab a wide receiver or running back to help out the offense, potentially acquire a young left guard and continue to add talent to a defense that needs even more help than Gregory and Rowe can give.
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