clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Falcons Mock Draft: Dealing With The Nightmare Scenario

New, comments

It's my turn at the mock draft game. I promise I'll take care of the place while The Master is away.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The old CBS site (where I had my old blog) used to be loaded with collaborative mock drafts.   Those are the ones where different people represent each team.   That beats the heck out of mocks where some writer or TV pundit says your favorite team should take Player A in round one, Player B in round two, and Player C in round three without having a clue as to who will be available in what round.

Now we have the Fanspeak simulator and other internet simulators.  They're a lot of fun, but they base all teams on the same prospect ranking list.  They also don't consider things like system fit, so you sometimes see really odd choices.

Many refugees from the old CBS moved over to Live4SportNetwork, where the collaborative mock tradition continues.   I've been representing the Falcons in that mock for years.

And this year, that mock presented the nightmare scenario.   You wanted Darron Lee, Shaq Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, Reggie Ragland or Leonard Floyd in the first round?   Nope - all gone.   McShay thinks Jack falls to #17?  Not in this mock.  Not even close.

Pick up an extra second rounder for trading down?   Not gonna happen - and at the time your pick comes up, there hasn't been a single trade since pick #7.

So...  if the entire draft board is utterly destroyed before the Falcons get on the clock, and there's not a good market for trading down, what do you do?   It really was the nightmare scenario.  It wasn't a lot of fun at first, but it was a pretty good exercise in the "scramble drill".

I traded down anyway.  It wasn't a good trade at all.  But it was something - and I was lucky to get it, because there had been no other trades since pick #7 and would be no other trades until #30.

I moved down to #31, getting two fifth rounders and a 2017 third rounder in return.   The basic principle is that if I'm going to end up taking a borderline first/second round player at #17, I'm better off moving down and taking him at #31 and getting whatever extra picks I can out of it, even if "the chart" says it's a bad deal.

I did similar moves later on whenever the board suggested that I could do so without too much risk.  Even Dimitroff has done that occasionally.

It paid off, and I think you'll be pleased with the end results.

I built my draft board for this mock based on Aaron Freeman's draft interest tracker plus the recommendations that I've seen from all of you here on this board.   We have a savvy group of draftniks here, and you made a heck of a fine mock scout team.  Nice job, everyone.

So...  meet your Nightmare Mock Draft Falcons:

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky

I suspect that he isn't on the real team's draft board because of his past drug issues.  I was willing to take him though since the team took the risk with Jalen Collins last year.   Actually, I was hoping to land Vernon Butler at #31, but he was already gone.

But hey, if spending a year at Eastern Kentucky helped Spence turn his life around, then he's a heck of a talent to land at #31 and would be well worth even the #17 pick.  And I do have to give the young man credit for putting himself through a rehab program and then transferring to Eastern Kentucky rather than leaving for the draft early.  If you want to show that you have maturity and quality character, that's the right move all the way.

I actually had Vernon Butler in mind when I moved down.  I figured that if indeed Tyson Jackson is bulking up to move inside to the nose, he's probably not a long term answer at the position.  Butler would have been sweet if he had been available.  But he wasn't, so Spence was the choice.

Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State

We all wanted Keanu Neal.  But this is the nightmare draft, right?   So naturally, Neal was already gone.

Jeanna has to be loving the way this mock is starting out for Atlanta, with two OSU guys as the first two picks.  (Spence transferred to EKU from OSU.)   Many of you have commented that you really like Perry as a potential Falcons linebacker, so I made him a priority target.  He lists as an outside guy, but he should have the skill set to move inside as well.

But never mind inside vs outside linebacker.  What I particularly like about him is his coverage ability.  We'll be in nickel or dime packages for about 60% of defensive snaps this season.  He has the skills to be on the field in the nickel set.   Perry and Weatherspoon as the potential nickel LB duo is a warm, fuzzy feeling.

According to Vaughn McClure, the Falcons did a private workout with him.  So it might happen, as he really is on the team's radar.  At the time I took him, NFL Draft Scout had ranked him as the #52 overall prospect, making it seem unlikely that he would be available in the third round.

Deion Jones, LB, LSU

Is he an outside linebacker, or is he a safety?   With the way Dan Quinn has moved players around, there's really no telling.   But I think he'd be a fine choice as a safety.   At 6-1, 222, 4.54 he is a good size/speed fit for free safety.   He has the ability to cover tight ends and has even lined up at cornerback.

He's also outstanding on special teams and has those intangibles (team captain) that make Thomas Dimitroff's heart flutter.  If Quinn wants fast and physical, Jones is it.  The coaching staff would just have to figure out where to play him.

(Side note:   Since I had acquired two extra picks and bumped up some later picks through trades, I was going to take a flyer and grab Jaylon Smith here.   Top ten talent for a third round pick?  Yes, please.   But he was taken five picks ahead of us.  So close...)

Kevin Byard, SS, Middle Tennessee State

I took one too many risks and traded down one too many times, and I missed out on Boston College free safety Justin Simmons.   My bad on that one.  Simmons had been rated to go later (some rankings had him below Byard), so I thought I had lots more time on him.

But there's no doubt that Byard is a nice alternative.  He's a legit mid-round prospect.  He had a monster pro day (4.46, 22 bench press reps, 38" vertical, 6.73 cone, 4.20 shuttle).  The Falcons also brought him to Flowery Branch.   He's a local high school product, so they got a freebie by bringing him in on the "locals day" workout.   But I think they would have either brought him here or gone to MTSU to work him out privately anyway.

Nick Vigil, ILB, Utah State

Hey, this draft might not be so bad after all!

It was an interesting decision between Vigil and Tyler Matakevich, both of whom were available.  Several of you are really big on Matakevich, and I like him a lot too.  (Monster production, the heart and soul of the defense, etc, etc.)

But Vigil is a fine player too, and the Falcons have shown real interest in him (one of our 30 private workouts in Flowery Branch) and not in Matakevich (not even confirmation that a scout attended his pro day).  So for better or worse, I went with what I thought the real Falcons were more likely to do and selected Vigil.

Either way, we now have a true inside linebacker from the draft.  I wouldn't expect him to be a day one starter, but after landing Josh Perry earlier, we wouldn't need Vigil to start right away anyway.

Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina

Many of you absolutely love him as a potential mid-round TE prospect.  So I got him.  You're welcome.  (I'm kinda big on Beau Sandland myself.  But I don't think he's on the real team's radar, so I passed him up in favor of Adams.)

Aaron Freeman doesn't explicitly list the Falcons as having conducted a private workout with Adams, but he notes a tweet from Dan Quinn that showed a picture of their field -  with the message that our coaches were getting ready for the next set of workouts.

It doesn't take Hercule Poirot to deduce who they went to Columbia to see.   The Gamecocks only have three legit draft prospects this year.  One of them is a WR - not a position of need.  Another is a lineman who is not a system fit for Shanahan's zone scheme.   And then there's Adams.

I'm guessing that they worked out all three, plus the three players that have an outside chance at signing as UDFAs somewhere, and maybe some others as a courtesy to the school (which apparently gave us access to their stadium for the workout rather than just a practice field).  But there's no doubt that Adams was the main reason why they made the trip.

Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA

You wanted a developmental lineman?  Now you have one.   He might not be the one you had in mind, but remember the name.  There's a chance you'll hear it this weekend.

Here's the scoop:  Vaughn McClure reported that Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff, Kyle Shanahan, line coach Chris Morgan, Scott Pioli and scouting director Steve Sabo all flew out to Los Angeles for a private workout with Benenoch. Yep, all of them.  They all flew to L.A. to watch him work out.   He wasn't the only guy they scouted, but McClure reported that they focused on Benenoch - and he didn't note any other position coaches making the trip.  They're looking at him pretty seriously.

Benenoch is often reported as needing to work on his functional strength, but he did put up 25 bench press reps at his pro day.  He's not hopeless.   On the plus side, he's quick, with the agility that makes him a great fit for a zone scheme.   He also played right guard a bit at UCLA, so he's a guard candidate and tackle candidate in one.

He's probably a year away from being active (the Falcons only play one active backup tackle, and that's probably going to be Bryce Harris) and certainly could use a year with our strength and conditioning staff.  But for what it's worth, CBS now projects him as a 3rd round candidate, ranking him as the #95 overall prospect on their big board.

And just for fun, I also got us...

Moritz Boehringer, German Football League

Hey, it might happen.   After that borderline absurd pro day workout he put up down at Florida Atlantic, the Falcons reportedly brought him to Flowery Branch for a private workout.  You're only allowed to bring in 30 prospects, so yeah, that's kind of a big deal.  It says that at the very least they're kicking the tires on this guy.

Never mind that Buford High School would stomp a German League team so badly that Georgia Tech vs. Cumberland would seem like a close game.  That means he's as raw as sashimi and the coaching staff will have to work hard to develop him.

But he already has the physical tools.  He's 6' 4.5", 227 pounds with a 39" vertical jump, a 4.43 time in the 40, a 6.65 cone drill and a 4.10 shuttle.  In his pro day workout, he caught absolutely everything short of a communicable disease, and his blocking skills impressed the scouts.

While he's learning the rest of the game, he should be able to hold down a roster spot with his special teams play (he did that in Germany) and as a potential red zone specialist (remember that 39" vertical and his 6'4.5" height).

UDFA = Malcolm Jackson, CB, Charleston Southern

This mock also incorporates two UDFA signings per team.

Jackson has been reported as a true shutdown corner in the small school ranks, and since he's another local high school product, the Falcons were able to bring him in for the locals day private workout.

He's 6' 0, so he might be a good system fit.  He has said himself that he doesn't do all that well in the short sprints, but this is coming from a track star who ran the 4x100 relay and set the Georgia high school record in the triple jump.  His idea of "not all that well" is probably quite fast.  He has also played safety in college.

Georgia fans might recall that the Bulldogs played Charleston Southern in November, 2014, with the result being exactly the 55-9 romp that you would expect.   In one interview, Jackson said that Bulldogs receiver Malcolm Mitchell was the toughest WR that he faced.

So...  if Jackson is a "shutdown corner" and he covered Mitchell in that game, how did he do?   Georgia's starters only played in the first half, but Mitchell was only targeted twice - with no receptions.

Works for me.   I'll take a flyer on him as one of my two UDFAs.

UDFA =  Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA

Fuller isn't getting the same level of attention as his UCLA teammates, but he's one of the better kick and punt return options available in this draft.   I suspect that if the Falcons do sign him after this weekend's draft, he would be a strong candidate to make the roster purely off of his special teams value.  Eric Weems and Devin Hester won't be around forever.

Fuller is a pretty good receiver too.   The Falcons have had other receivers (such as Weems, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone) on the roster for their special teams abilities before, but Fuller is a stronger candidate to make contributions on offense.   He's an effective route runner with home run speed.

And yes, the Falcons did have a private workout with him.   They worked him out on campus at the same time as Benenoch.

Bonus:  2017 third round pick (from Denver)

The trade in the first round wasn't much of a return for dropping 14 spots, but I found out later that I was really lucky to get it.  It turned out that the Colts tentatively had the same deal in place.   Since we were one pick ahead of Indianapolis, we got it instead.

So by "settling" for Noah Spence, we got some extra picks back in this draft, and as the icing on the cake we have Denver's third rounder next year.

I consider it a dream result for a nightmare draft scenario.  Your thoughts?