One of the best features of the long-defunct CBS forums was the availability of collaborative mock drafts. It’s sort of like your fantasy football league’s draft -each team is represented by a real person, and you’re competing against all of them for the available players.
I represented the Falcons in several mocks from those days. One of the better ones moved on after the downfall of the CBS forums and is now in its eighth year.
(Its creators are also experimenting with a full mock offseason, which had its first year of alpha testing this season. That also included a draft, which I wrote about here.)
But this one is the “official” collaborative mock - with no mock free agent signings to change each team’s draft needs. It wrapped up about a week ago with a pair of undrafted rookie signings per team.
Here’s how things fell for the Falcons in this year’s annual mock.
DE - Taco Charlton, Michigan
According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, the Falcons had not scheduled a private workout with Charlton. But with more than two weeks remaining before the actual draft at the time the mock got underway and many prospect visits yet to come, I certainly couldn’t rule out a future visit or scratch him off my target list.
The question of guard vs. edge rusher has come up quite a bit this offseason. My take is that it’s much more difficult and expensive to land a top edge rusher in free agency than it is to land an offensive lineman. It’s also easier to work the offensive linemen up through the pipeline.
With that in mind, I put the priority on the edge rusher. The best way to get them is to draft them. Charlton was there, so I grabbed him. (If anyone’s wondering, Forrest Lamp was long gone.)
DT - Caleb Brantley, Florida
Unfortunately, the breaking news regarding Brantley has already made this pick a disaster. If the mock happened this week, he would not be on my draft board at all.
I had managed to land Larry Ogunjobi in the third round of the earlier experimental offseason’s mock draft. If the Brantley incident had taken place before the mock, I probably would have gone ahead and taken Ogunjobi here.
LB - Alex Anzalone, Florida
This should erase any doubt that my focus was on rounding out the defensive front seven. I’ll leave it to you to debate Anzalone’s past injuries vs. his sideline-to-sideline range and overall athleticism.
Instead, I’ll stick with the implications that these first three picks would have for the Falcons defensive makeup. Mull this over: if the Falcons did go with these positions for their first three picks, we’d potentially have Beasley and Charlton along with Crawford, Shelby and Clayborn at DE. In the interior, we’d have Poe, Jarrett, Upshaw, [insert your draft pick of choice here] and Hageman.
And at the second level, we’d be looking at a linebacker corps of Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Brooks Reed, Alex Anzalone, Kemal Ishmael, and LaRoy Reynolds. Many of us are itching to see Quinn’s defense crack the top ten this year. That kind of lineup for the front seven ought to do the trick.
OT - Will Holden, Vanderbilt
I hear you. You want an offensive lineman, and I fully agree - as a general principle I like the idea of adding at least one offensive lineman each year. I just prefer the Dan Reeves approach of taking them in the middle or later rounds and developing them rather than making them the top draft priority.
If the Falcons landed him in the real draft, I would picture Holden as competing for the swing tackle role as a rookie. But longer term, he might be the successor to Levitre at left guard or perhaps the solution at right guard if the team’s plans for that position don’t work out this season.
S - Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami
Regardless of any rumors or projections, it truly does make sense for the team to add a developmental defensive back. It has nothing to do with Ricardo Allen, but rather a need for more depth in the safety group.
Dashon Goldson is no longer with the team, and Ishmael is likely moving to linebacker. For now, that leaves Sharrod Neasman as the only “true” backup safety on the roster, though several of our cornerback prospects would be ideal candidates to move to safety as well.
Jenkins certainly isn’t an “instant starter,” but he’s big, fast and physical. Think our coaching staff can work with that?
QB - Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Why a quarterback? Because the only backup we have in the organization is 35 years old. We really could use a developmental prospect as a #3. Dobbs certainly has the intelligence to learn the scheme. He also has the mobility for the rollout passes and moving pocket plays, good arm strength and surprising accuracy on his longer throws.
RB - De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina (UDFA)
The Falcons went half of last season with only two running backs on the 53-man roster. That’s inviting trouble. We need depth, and Henderson strikes me as an outstanding system fit for the outside zone scheme.
S - Jadar Johnson, Clemson (UDFA)
Somehow he was still available, and he was just too good to pass up.
By going with the “value” player, I did pass up the chance to name a tight end prospect as a second UDFA in this mock. But the real Falcons will obviously be signing far more than just two undrafted rookies, so I think we can consider it a given that we’ll be adding a few extra linemen, at least one potential return man, and an extra tight end even though I didn’t get to name them in the mock.
Last year I had tried to target players known to be connected to the Falcons. I had aimed for Keanu Neal in the second round (and saw him taken ahead of me - suggesting the real team did well to get him when they could). I missed on him but did get Deion Jones and later on Devin Fuller as well.
With this year’s mock coming earlier, I didn’t even try to focus on players that have had known workouts with the team. So frankly, I have absolutely no clue if Charlton or Anzalone or any of the later picks are even on Dimitroff and Quinn’s shopping list, let alone whether the Falcons will manage to get any of them. The only one I’m sure about is that while Dimitroff might not be looking for angels, Brantley will NOT be landing in Flowery Branch after his incident.
And now it’s your turn. Other than the unfortunate timing with Brantley, where else did I screw up?