Charles "The Cool Guy" McDonald
Round 1: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Round 2: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Round 3: Deion Jones, OLB, LSU
Round 4: Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Round 7: Tyrone Holmes, DE, Montana
For my mock draft, I used the Optimum Scouting draft board (which I may or may not have burned hours of my life working on). The options at the first pick were a little weak with Shaq Lawson, Darron Lee, and Sheldon Rankins off the board so I picked up Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler. Butler can play every spot in Dan Quinn's defense effectively.
On day two I drafted Florida safety Keanu Neal and LSU outside linebacker Deion Jones. Those are the Falcons two biggest areas of need and I was able to fill those needs with quality talent who should step in as rookie starters.
With my fourth and seventh round picks I was able to snatch Austin Hooper and Tyrone Holmes, respectively. Hooper is arguably the best tight end prospect this year and Holmes rushed the passer very well in Division 1-AA. At his pro day he drew comparisons to Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen.
This is a good draft, crown me.
Round 1: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
We have five or so positions of major concern, and with so few picks, I feel like every pick has to play it safe. Ragland seems like one of the safest picks in the entire class. If he can transition outside right away, great, but if not, I'd still feel pretty good. Shaq Lawson was gone, fwiw.
Round 2: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
And there goes that idea. I considered WR a position to keep an eye on later, but was hoping to go defense in round two. When arguably the best receiver falls to you at 50, you have to jump quickly, as if you are Josh Doctson.
Round 3: Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford
If the actual draft were to play out like this, we'd have to choose between filling our worst holes and adding crazy talent. I'll go talent again! Garnett's too big to be a prototype guard for our current system, but he can scoot a little, and we're not exactly married to our current system forever. I think he's far better than any players at bigger need positions who were available. The defensive ends and tight ends groups were particularly bombed-out.
Round 4: Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
Really feeling the burn of having so many needs and so few picks. Our IRL hot-seat general manager is going to have a great time putting this puzzle together. Kaufusi was versatile, smart, and productive in college. Charles Tapper and Shawn Oakman were available, and both have far higher upsides. Looking back, I'd take Oakman instead, despite that "play it safe" thing.
Round 7: Derrick Kindred, SS, TCU
Might only be a situational player and special teamer, but he's a hard hitter who plays his ass off. I'd have high confidence in him making the roster.
In terms of adding impact, I'd feel good about this. If Doctson and Garnett hadn't been there, I would've wanted to trade back for more picks, get a tight end, and throw many more bodies at the defense. We didn't solve every problem, but we got five players who go hard and could help right away.
Round 1: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Round 2: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Round 3: Deion Jones, OLB, LSU
Round 4: Malik Collins, DT, Nebraska
Round 7: James Burgess, LB, Louisville
This draft (done with the Optimum board) did not unfold in ideal fashion for the Falcons, which is probably how we can expect things to go in real life. By steering into the skids, though, I think the Falcons wound up with a very solid class.
Lawson is an immediate impact player on the defensive front with his physicality, pass rushing ability, and run-stopping prowess. Henry is a potential long-term solution at tight end, with good hands and the ability to grow into a solid enough blocker to be a true every-down option. And Deion Jones offers speed and coverage potential at linebacker that the Falcons simply don't have today, even if he's going to need some work to be anywhere near a great player.
From there, I went for two players I found very intriguing. Malik Collins reminds me of players like Geno Atkins and Henry Melton, squat dudes who wound up becoming much more than their draft status would suggest, and I think Collins could grow into a quality starter on what is fast becoming a very good Falcons defensive line. Burgess is an interesting athlete who would start off as a special teamer and deep reserve, with the potential to become a useful backup down the line. I'm fine with that from a seventh rounder.
Ultimately, what's most disappointing about this class is that the Falcons don't get a safety, which means they'll be working with a veteran stopgap. Considering their front seven looks a hell of a lot better and they've got their tight end of the future, we'll have to live with it.
Using the CBS board
Round 1: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Round 2: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Round 3: Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Round 4: Connor McGovern, G, Missouri
Round 5: A really loud speaker system to use during games
Round 6: Andy Levitre (oh god)
Round 7: Derrick Kindred, S, TCU
So, I was really hoping to land either Sheldon Rankins or Shaq Lawson in the first, but both were gone well before pick 17. While I would love for the Falcons to trade down in this scenario, I opted for athleticism and upside (Lee) over a true plug and play starter (Ragland). I really hope it pays off. Getting Vernon Butler in the second would be a steal and Hooper in the third felt like good value for a true pass catching TE.
The intriguing pick to me is McGovern in the fourth. He is a powerful player who holds up well in pass blocking and has played well in a zone blocking scheme. He could be a day 3 steal. Derrick Kindred in the 7th is one to keep an eye on as well. He has the speed to succeed, but can get lost in coverage. As a box safety, though, he may be a good fit especially since he is a violent player who "brings it" on every play.
It's not an ideal draft, and it still leaves middle-linebacker in flux, but this is a draft class I could live with and one that I think would improve the roster.
Make Atlanta fast again.
Round 1: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
Round 2: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Round 3: Deion Jones, OLB, LSU
Round 4: Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina St
Round 7: Cory James, LB, Colorado State
I will not let this dream die. Whitehair in the 1st round would bring athleticism and sticky blocking to an already above average offensive line. This would give the team a 1,000 snap starter on day one and turn the offensive line into a legitimate team strength.
With round 2 and 3, I somehow managed to land both Neal and Jones. Neal is a punisher, plain and simple. While not the most fluid athlete, he's more than capable of getting the job done with limited responsibilities in Dan Quinn's 4-3. The same day we get the athletic freak that is Deion Jones. Quinn focuses on both fast and physical, but there's an emphasis on "fast" this offseason for the LB corps.
On the final day, I took Hargrave and Cory James. Defensive tackle is likely the deepest position the Falcons have right now, but not for long. Bring in Hargrave, an athletic DT who's few cons include facing lesser talent. As for Cory, he's athletically similar to the likes of Deion Jones, and played ILB during his final year at Colorado State. He's currently a bit undersized for the inside, but has held over 240 pounds on his frame in the past. I'd be pumped for that pick.
With few picks in the draft, there's noticeable pressure on Atlanta's front office to bring in legitimate starters with limited resources. I believe if the above were to happen, Atlanta would be mightily improved -- and did it by taking athletes, not just football players.
I am pretty far from a draft expert, so lets see how this goes using the FanSpeak board. My strategy was to draft based off of need.
Round 1: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. Cook is simply too much talent to pass over. He could start day one.
Round 2: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. The Falcons have needed to add a developmental quarterback for ages, and Hackenberg fits that bill perfectly.
Round 3: Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State. Jones has perhaps the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the draft, and could become a Hall of Famer after spending a few years behind the Cook/Hackenberg combo.
Round 4: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State. Easily my favorite player in the draft. Can't pass up this value in the 4th round.
Round 7: Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford. Probably the best fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense, Hogan could be a great addition to the practice squad while he catches up to the speed of the NFL.
I used the FanSpeak board. I'm one of those people who thinks every board on this site will end up being way wrong, but what do I know.
Round 1: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson - This is the dream first round pick for me. He's the bigger DE to complement Beasley on the other side. He was also a wrecking ball in college, much like Beasley. You're potentially setting up your DL for the next decade with Lawson and Beasley on each end. Forget that they both went to Clemson, you'd be solving your end problem with Lawson for the foreseeable future.
Round 2: Karl Joseph, SS, West Virginia - Much like Lawson was a dream, so is Joseph in the second. He's Mike Mayock's best safety in the draft, period. He does have a health concern, but he injured his knee relatively early in the season and would be able to play at some point in the 2016 season. We need a SS pretty badly, and Joseph would be a surefire first rounder if not for the ACL. I say go for it.
Round 3: Vadal Alexander, G, LSU - Alexander is a mammoth individual at 6'6", 340. His scouting report suggests he fails to finish blocks, so it's likely he'll have to learn some technique and slim down if he's going to make it in the NFL. He's extremely powerful, though, and that's enough to take a flyer on him. Chris Morgan did work with the abomination that was our interior OL last year, I'd like to see what he can do with Alexander.
Round 4: Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame - Given our draft status, I think we'd be idiots to pass on Jaylon Smith if he's here in the 4th. He said on Twitter recently he was leg pressing 600 pounds. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a ton of weight, but considering his knee had the consistency of Jello in his bowl game, I'd say that is significant progress. The kid has extreme talent, and considering we don't pick again until the 7th, this is a pick we absolutely have to make.
Round 7: Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia - No way Malcolm Mitchell is available in the 7th after he tore up the combine, but if he is, I think we'd be crazy to pass up on him. He, like Chris Conley before him, remind me of a Roddy White-type. He doesn't have extreme speed but he willingly goes over the middle and makes tough catches. He also played with Bad and Worse at QB his final two seasons at UGA. He's already home, so bring him in, TD.
Nathan Butler Jr.
Using the Fanspeak Mock Draft board, I drafted based off our needs and depth.
Round 1: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: Although I am very high on Darron Lee or Shaq Lawson, they were both unavailable in the current mock draft; however, I wouldn't be against Ragland coming in due to our current situation on the inside. This position is one of our major needs and I don't trust Paul Worrilow long term as our starter.
Round 2: Jeremy Cash, S, Duke: With the loss of William Moore, we desperately need another safety and there's a lot of potential with this prospect. Jeremy Cash has an high motor and the football IQ to develop into an solid NFL safety. Cash can be seen lining up all over the field; Deep safety, strong safety, slot corner and even linebacker, and he is making an impact from every spot.
Round 3: Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford: We don't know if Jacob Tamme can be as productive in a Falcons uniform long term plus Hooper is a solid pass catching tight end. We all have witnessed what Matt Ryan can do when he has a solid weapon at the position and we've missed that since the departure of Tony Gonzalez.
Round 4: Christian Westerman, G, Arizona State: With the future of Chris Chester and uncertainty with Adam Levitre, the Falcons will need to upgrade at the guard position. Westerman has outstanding athleticism and movement skills. Is quick off the snap and able to beat defenders to the spot. Can get to difficult cross-face blocks using timing, technique and footwork. At his best when on the move, which is exactly what we'll need in Shanahan's scheme especially on stretch plays to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Round 7: Marquez North, WR, Tennessee: With the Falcons presumably releasing Devin Hester, we could look for an option at receiver late and North is a project; however, he could develop into a solid option in the Falcons offense. North has the size and reliable, soft hands. He can snatch ball away from his frame and gets upfield quickly after the catch; however, he dealt with lingering injuries and other problems so he could be a risky pick.