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Falcons Mock Draft Projection: Mid-Free Agency Edition

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How do the early free agency moves affect the draft?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons made a big ticket free agency move last week, adding Matt Schaub to the 2016 roster. They also added Alex Mack, Derrick Shelby, Mohamed Sanu, and brought back Sean Weatherspoon for his second go in Atlanta.

Currently, the roster still has a lot of holes to fill and with cap space getting tight it's they'll have to rely on the draft to fill a few of those holes. Here's a mock draft that'll undoubtedly be one hundred percent correct by the time the actual draft happens.

Round One (Pick 17): Darron Lee, Linebacker, Ohio State

The Falcons desperately need an infusion of youth at linebacker. Paul Worrilow will be back on the team (to possibly start again) and Sean Weatherspoon shouldn't be more than depth or an emergency plan at this point in his career. Dan Quinn has preached about getting faster and more athletic on defense; Darron Lee certainly fits the profile there.

Lee is a bit raw coming out as a redshirt sophomore, but his freakish athletic abilities will make him a highly coveted prospect in the first round of April's draft.

Round Two (Pick 50): Charles Tapper, Defensive End, Oklahoma

Atlanta made an effort to strengthen the defensive line by signing an underrated lineman in Derrick Shelby. Shelby offers ability to be productive on the interior and exterior on the defensive line, but another edge rusher is sorely needed. Charles Tapper ran a blazing 4.59 40 yard dash at 271 pounds and performed well in the broad jump and vertical.

Tapper is coming from an Oklahoma defense that forced him to play conservatively; his athletic abilities weren't always on display with the Sooners. When they cut off the leash and let him play upfield he showed off rare potential that would make him a perfect fit behind Adrian Clayborn and Vic Beasley as he gets used to the NFL game.

Round Three (Pick 81): Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia

If Karl Joseph didn't tear his ACL early in the college football season he likely wouldn't drop this far. Joseph matches up well in man and zone coverage while laying the thunder on a routine basis. He's a perfect match with Dan Quinn based on his style of play and energy that he brings to the field week in and week out.

One issue with Joseph is that his smaller frame (5'9, 205) and reckless style of play might leave him frequently nicked up. However, safety is too big of a need for the Falcons to pass up a talent like Karl Joseph at this point.

Round Four (Pick 116): Jerell Adams, Tight End, South Carolina

Jacob Tamme played well as a stopgap in 2015, but the Falcons need to start grooming a tight end to replace him in the near future. Jerell Adams from South Carolina is a raw, athletic prospect. He doesn't have the most consistent hands or blocking technique. However, when Adams gets the ball in his hands he's capable of blowing the top off of the defense and is dangerous after the catch.

With Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Justin Hardy in the mix for the foreseeable future, a dangerous target over the middle would be a nice option for the Falcons offense moving forward. Jerell Adams has the potential to grow into that player.

Round Seven (Pick 242): Jordan Walsh, Guard, Iowa

The Falcons could stand to add more competition at both guard positions. Mike Person should compete at guard, with Alex Mack locking up the starting center position. Walsh was a solid player on Iowa's offensive line that steamrolled their competition every week during the college football season. Iowa's offense uses a lot of zone blocking concepts; this would be a pick that makes sense from a talent and schematic standpoint.

It'll be difficult for the Falcons to fill their holes with only five picks in the 2016 draft. A trade down may happen at some point, but that hasn't been the norm since Thomas Dimitroff has been general manager. Perhaps the Falcons will sign a free agent in the coming days that eliminates or softens one of these needs.