We are about halfway through the 2017 NFL season and the Falcons are 4-4, which means it is perfect time for a mock draft for the Atlanta Falcons.
Even with what has transpired so far for the Falcons this season, the talent on the roster is still evident. This upcoming offseason will be interesting as they have a few decisions to make in regards to upcoming free agents and young players obtaining bigger roles. However, here is a mock draft based on the current roster and what may evolve into needs for next season. Let's begin.
1st Round, 17th Overall - Christian Kirk, WR , Texas A&M
One upcoming free agent for this offseason appears to be slot receiver Taylor Gabriel. In 2016, Gabriel gave the offense a big boost with 36 catches for six touchdowns in the regular season and averaged 19 yards a catch in the postseason. This season is a different story and Gabriel has not been as effective, which has been a combination of inconsistent play calling and execution.
So sitting in the middle of the first round, the Falcons have an opportunity to grab a 5'11 stick of dynamite in Texas A&M's Christian Kirk. Posting 163 catches in his first two seasons in College Station, Kirk has been a consistent playmaker for the Aggies in his three seasons there and has the speed and explosiveness that will have defenses on alert, especially with the greatness of Julio Jones nearby. Kirk in the Falcons offensive scheme will open things up even more for an already talented offensive unit.
2nd Round, 48th Overall: Vita Vea, DT , Washington
Another pending free agent in the upcoming offseason is the massive nose tackle Dontari Poe. Who has played well this season but everyone knows in the back of his mind is an upcoming payday, whether it is from the Falcons or another team wanting his services.
The odds are that the Falcons will replace Poe with a younger, cheaper body and they are in luck. Out of the University of Washington is a 330-lb run plug that is powerful at the point of attack and the ability to be disruptive on the interior. The Falcons have built a young nucleus on the defensive line with Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley, and Grady Jarrett in the last few drafts and adding a wall in the mold of the 6'4 lineman will be a young vital piece for the defense.
3rd Round, 79th Overall: Chad Thomas, DE , Miami
If you've studied head coach Dan Quinn enough, you will notice he has a certain lust for defensive line rotation and versatility. The defensive line showed considerable improvement in 2016 but in 2017, it is obvious that the unit could still use a little juice. Especially with veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn facing unrestricted free agency this offseason.
So the Falcons add another versatile lineman in Thomas who has great size (6'6 265 lbs), length, and the ability to be an effective pass rusher on the edge and within the interior on obvious passing downs. Thomas has plenty of experience after starting roughly 30 games in his four seasons at Miami and possess a consistent motor to cause havoc in opposing backfields. Injecting Thomas on the Falcons defensive line will give the Falcons a younger option compared to Clayborn and still maintain the ability to create pass rushing combinations with his skill set.
4th Round, 114th Overall: Isaiah Wynn, G , Georgia
I know what you're thinking. The Falcons just drafted Oregon State guard Sean Harlow in this year's draft with eyes on him being a future pillar on the line. The same could be said here for Wynn here in the fourth round.
Both Andy Levitre and Alex Mack are currently 31 years of age and while both are key starters on an all-around solid offensive line, father time is not on their side at the moment. So to help build depth along with Harlow and possibly create a training camp battle with Harlow and Schweitzer, selecting Wynn makes sense. At the very least, it provides a body in Wynn who can help shore up depth at guard and center. Or it could possibly be an intriguing starter with athleticism and ideal size.
6th Round, 176th Overall: Will Grier, QB , West Virginia
I was one of the few who stated that it would not hurt the Falcons to draft a quarterback late in the 2017 draft. Even with Matt Ryan showing he has years left in the league, it would not hurt at all to grab a prospect that can possibly give backup Matt Schaub a little heat.
Grier can do just that. He has accuracy, a quality arm with downfield ability, and solid pocket presence. He will need to work on his decision making and read-making but in the sixth round, this late, a prospect such as Grier is worth taking a shot on.
7th Round, 207th Overall: Trey Marshall, S , Florida State
Behind arguably the best player on defense this season in strong safety Keanu Neal is not very much on the depth chart. Special teamer Sherrod Neasman is in place but what is better than competition to shore up at a critical position. Marshall will not 'wow' you with his stat line but with his size (6'0 210) and his ability to play multiple positions, Marshall can possibly improve the backup strong safety spot along with improve the Falcons special teams coverage teams.