It’s agonizing. Painfully excruciating. Severely disturbing.
I’m talking about this dreadfully long wait to get the 2017 NFL Draft started. One of these days, the Atlanta Falcons will be on the clock at 31st overall. One of these days the Falcons will be able to address a number of tasks on their draft checklist. One of these days.....
Round 1, 31st Overall - Derek Rivers, Edge , Youngstown State
It’s no secret that the Falcons desire to have another edge rusher team with 2016 sack king Vic Beasley Jr. and attack opposing offenses. Luckily for the Falcons, the draft is well stocked with athletic pass rushers that can fit their scheme.
By the time the Falcons are on the clock, I expect a number of pass rushing prospects to have already been selected. Which will likely lead to Rivers being the best available edge rusher at that time in the draft.
In this GIF, Rivers uses a quick get-off at the snap, easily swipes away the hands of the opposing lineman, and seals the play with a sack on 4th down.
At 6’4 and 248 pounds, Rivers may not have ideal size just yet but he does provide an intriguing skill set that will open up things for the Falcons on defense. Sliding Rivers into the LEO position will solve key factors on defense for Atlanta and while many have an early 2nd round grade, taking him at 31st overall will not be a considerable reach at all. Never mind the small school. Rivers has the game that can be essential to success in 2017.
Round 2, 63rd Overall - Dion Dawkins, G , Temple
For the past few months, I have been bouncing around three prospects who can fill the right guard position for the Falcons now that veteran Chris Chester has decided to retire. No I am not including Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp in this equation. Simply because I fully believe he will be drafted within the top 25 picks of the draft.
I do feel the Falcons will address the position late in the second round. Indiana’s Dan Feeney, Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson, and Temple’s Dion Dawkins are all viable candidates to fulfill the need.
Why Dawkins? Of the three listed, Dawkins is the more athletic and also provides reliable versatility with time in both zone-blocking and gap-running schemes. Dawkins is a finely tuned machine and can step in from day one and be exactly what the Falcons are looking for.
Round 3, 95th Overall - Dalvin Tomlinson, DT , Alabama
The addition of Dontari Poe this offseason gave the Falcons a massive plug at the nose tackle position. Whether or not Poe is a long term pillar in Atlanta is a decision for another day. However, the Falcons can afford to add depth at nose tackle behind Poe while also provide insurance in case Poe does a one year tour in Atlanta.
In this Gif, Tomlinson lines up at the 3-Tech, executes a stunt with teammate Jonathan Allen going underneath to occupy blockers, which allows Tomlinson to battle briefly with the right guard and secure the sack on 3rd & 10.
Tomlinson is a unique prospect as he is 6’3 and 310 lbs with impressive strength thanks to his history as a 3-time wrestling champion in high school. Tomlinson is one of the best run defenders in the draft and can be another stout piece to what is becoming a talented rotation at defensive tackle for the Falcons.
Round 4, 135th Overall - Eddie Jackson, FS, Alabama
The Falcons once again dips into the Alabama well of talent and plucks a free safety that has excellent ball skills and the knack for making a big play or two when need be.
Current starter Ricardo Allen played well late in the season at free safety. While he stepped up when called upon, it has been rumored that the Falcons will bring in competition at the position with Allen entering the 2017 season as a soon-to-be free agent next offseason.
Jackson made timely plays at Alabama and the ex-cornerback showed the natural instincts that can make him a dangerous centerfield safety for Atlanta. Jackson does need to improve his tackling and get fully healthy as he is coming off a broken leg in 2016. However, for what Jackson provides at free safety along with added value as a punt returner, Jackson is worth the roll of the dice here.
Round 5, 174th Overall - Jonnu Smith, TE , Florida International
Outside of Austin Hooper, the tight end position for the Falcons does not have much to be excited about. The Falcons were a well-oiled machine on offense last season and one element that aided that was having multiple weapons at tight end.
Hooper is stable and will be a weapon for years to come. Re-signing Levine Toilolo was a move that helped the run game more than giving quarterback Matt Ryan a true target in the passing game.
Smith can provide ability in both phases. In four seasons at FIU, Smith reeled in 178 catches and averaged 11 yards per catch. He may not be the biggest but he has good size to go along with his skill set.
Round 7, 249th Overall - Storm Norton, OT , Toledo
The name alone should get him drafted but Norton also has enough of a skill set for the Falcons to consider adding depth this late in the draft. Norton (6’8 311 lbs) is powerful and able to move laterally quite well give his size. Again, it’s more of a depth selection but it is one that is definitely worth considering.