Head: LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
When looking at the Falcons roster, the one position that looks like it needs the biggest upgrade is weak-side linebacker. With Paul Worrilow and Sean Weatherspoon looking like they will compete for middle linebacker and Brooks Reed competing with Vic Beasley and Courtney Upshaw for strong-side linebacker, two of the three spots at the middle level of the defense seem to have competitions that will be birthing the starters for this year.
However, at weak-side linebacker, there's a massive black hole. Sure, you have LaRoy Reynolds and Phillip Wheeler under contract, and in a worst case scenario, you end up starting Wheeler. But, the Falcons can do better. Darron Lee from Ohio State has more long speed than Lavonte David, but a similar build and athletic profile. Atlanta would have a speedy linebacker who can play well in coverage if they brought in Lee. The only real question is his physicality.
Heart: EDGE Leonard Floyd, Georgia
As someone who grew up in Georgia and has seen a ton of talent at UGA wasted by the coaching staffs thereâwhether it be Jim Donnan or Mark RichtâI've wanted to see the Falcons bring in someone from the local school that could be an impact player. Specifically, I've wanted to see some of these defenders that UGA has put out come to Atlanta. Thomas Davis, Richard Seymour, or more recently, Alec Ogletree or Jarvis Jones could have helped the Falcons.
The best possible fit this year for Atlanta might just be Leonard Floyd. As a player, he's very similar to Dion Jordan, but unlike Jordan, there's not the off-field baggage. Floyd has potential to be a great pass rusher within Atlanta's scheme across from Vic Beasley and when it comes to his overall talent level, he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl player and 10-plus sack guy. However, he could be dinged for things like a slight frameânot unlike John Abraham was back in the day.
Head: The best defensive line prospect available
I'm of the mind that you can never have too much defensive line talent. The crop of LBs in the teens scares me a little. Darron Lee is extremely fast, but is he going to be able to tackle an NFL running back? What about covering Greg Olsen? Leonard Floyd's versatility is intriguing but he, too, has stilts for limbs. Where is his leverage going to come from? Reggie Ragland seemed like a great pick until his athletic numbers started blaring several alarms. He's got the football mind, but can his body carry his mind there? I think someone like Emmanuel Ogbah would be a good pick here; someone bigger that can play DE opposite Beasley in the mold of Adrian Clayborn.
Heart: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Speed kills. You can't teach speed. You don't have to coach that speed, just aim it. The sayings go on and on. The simple fact is that small, fast WRs are becoming a trend in the NFL. Jarvis Landry, OBJ, John Brown, TY Hilton are all what one might consider "small and fast" in NFL standards, and Corey Coleman stands to become another one of those receivers. One way to make the Falcons' offense better is to just bludgeon the opponent with weapons. Coleman scored 20 TDs in Baylor's high flying offense this past season, so clearly the guy has a knack for finding the end zone. It'd be cool to pair blistering speed with Julio and Sanu, but this is nothing more than another Todd Gurley pipe dream. It'd be awesome, but we just can't do it.
Head: LB, Darron Lee, Ohio State
Lee is everything the Falcons need in a linebacker. He's fast, he can cover, and he's brimming with confidence. He'd be an instant upgrade at the weakside linebacker spot and would fill a gargantuan hole on defense. Lee seems like an easy choice for Dan Quinn and company if he's available.
Heart: Any wide receiver
Goodbye, Mohamed Sanu.
Head: LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
On a few fronts, Lee solves the Falcons' linebacker issues. He's supremely fast and athletic, he has room to grow as a player, could offer up a long-term solution (with coverage skills!) on the weak side, and he's got the kind of borderline cocky faith in his own abilities that the team seems to be looking for. The Falcons have shown real interest in him, he's likely to be available at #17, and he checks all those Dan Quinn boxes, so he's one of the most logical picks.
Heart: LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
I'm assuming that Shaq Lawson won't be available, sadly, because that would mean he would be my pick for head and heart. I'm going to stump for Ragland, though, because despite concerns about his foot speed and coverage ability, I genuinely think he's one of the best linebackers in the draft, a big hitter and run stopper who could set the tone for the entire defense in the middle. I also think he'd be able to function better than what the Falcons currently have in coverage, at the very least.
Head: DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson
The first thing you notice when looking at the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos is their absolutely relentless pass rush. Atlanta could take a rangy linebacker like Darron Lee or Leonard Floyd, or they could solidify their pass rush for the at least the next four years by taking another standout Clemson defensive end. Dodd has the perfect frame at 6'5" and 277lbs to complement Beasley's play-style, and brings a knack for disrupting the quarterback with his 46 hurries in 2015. Drafting another pass-rusher here would not only bolster the weakest pass rush in the league, but also benefit the Falcons' talented secondary as well.
Heart: OL Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
Talk about versatility. Whitehair can contribute at any position along the offensive line, but his true value is found on the inside at guard. At the combine, Cody was a top performer in the 3 cone, 20 yard shuttle, and broad jump; showing that he beings crazy athleticism for a guy his size. The current state of affairs beside our shiny new center is quietly one of the biggest weaknesses on the roster, and Whitehair can be the young, athletic guard the offense needs for its zone-blocking scheme. With this pick, Atlanta would be fielding one of the most talented offensive lines that the league has to offer. I'm sure Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman would appreciate that.
Head: DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson
Dodd is probably the very best fit. I think the Falcons will be forced to address the front seven in the first, and I do not think any of the linebackers are a good enough fit to warrant this draft slot. Ragland is slow, and Lee would probably fit best a WLB, which is an easier position to fill. Dodd is still a project, but can work in heavily in the rotation early on, and can be Atlanta's long-term starter opposite Vic Beasley.
Heart: WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame
Mohamed Sanu would be a solid third wide receiver, while Fuller has nice size for his ridiculous speed. The Falcons can get add the best deep threat in over a decade, and punish defenses when they focus on Freeman and Jones. Just imagine that offense! Assuming the problems with the scheme are ironed out, the Falcons could have one of the best offenses in the league.