We made it! We made it! The draft is tonight! Let’s get excited!
Now that we’ve got the hype out of the way, it’s time for my final mock draft of the 2017 offseason. This is my final stab at drafting all seven rounds for the Falcons using the Fanspeak mock draft simulator. For this simulation, I used the Composite big board, which takes the averages of several big boards and combines them into a “mega board” of sorts.
Speaking of the draft, we’re having a Falcoholic Draft Party that will be broadcast tonight during the first round on YouTube Live. You’re all invited. BYOB.
Onto the draft picks!
Round 1, Pick 31 — EDGE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
This is not the first time I’ve mocked Rivers to the Falcons. However, it is the first time I’ve done it in the first round. I think Atlanta is genuinely interested in the intriguing young pass rusher, and he’s likely one of their top targets at pick 31.
Here’s what I wrote about Rivers in my last mock draft:
Rivers doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game: he’s a high-motor rusher with ideal athletic traits and surprisingly advanced technique. There are concerns about his level of competition and his lack of prototypical size, but Rivers looks like a potential impact pass rusher at the NFL level.
Round 2, Pick 63 — G/C Pat Elflein, Ohio State
With Feeney going off the board early in the second, I had to turn to my #3 ranked guard prospect: Pat Elflein. RG is one of the only legitimate holes on the roster, and I think the Falcons will prioritize finding Chris Chester’s replacement early in the draft.
Elflein is a versatile interior offensive lineman that played C and G during his time at Ohio State, and was proficient in both. He’s an excellent run blocker with a physical style of play, and he’s got enough athleticism to play in a zone scheme. Elflein was a team captain and has the desired level of toughness and work ethic that makes him a Day 1 starter with above-average upside.
Round 3, Pick 95 — DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
Johnson’s stock has cooled off quite a bit after his lackluster Combine performance, but he’s still a good player that offers excellent value at the end of the third round. Atlanta is always looking to bolster their defensive line with playmakers, and they’ll likely be targeting good values in the mid-rounds.
Here’s what I said about Johnson in my earlier mock draft:
Johnson is a stout DT that can play 3T and 1T effectively. What separates him from other DTs in this class is his stellar technique and high football IQ. He’s an excellent fit for Quinn’s defense, and his well-rounded game would help bolster the run defense significantly.
Round 4, Pick 136 — FS Tedric Thompson, Colorado
With my favorite 4th-round selection being taken off the board only a few picks before Atlanta’s selection (Michael Roberts), I had to get a bit creative. Tedric Thompson, the intriguing FS prospect from Colorado, is another player the Falcons may be interested in the mid-rounds.
Thompson is a ballhawking FS with great coverage chops and good instincts. He’s rangy enough to play the center-field safety role in Quinn’s defense, and would provide a potential upgrade over Ricardo Allen in a year or so. He’s not exactly the most physical player, however, and his tackling could use some refinement.
Round 5, Pick 174 — LB Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
The Falcons will be looking to add depth to the LB rotation in the mid-to-late rounds, and they take a chance here on an interesting prospect in Boise State’s Tanner Vallejo. The Falcons recently visited with him—so we know there is certainly interest there from the team.
Vallejo is a bit on the small side for an ILB, and he kind of resembles Deion Jones a bit. He’s good in coverage, has solid instincts for the position, and is capable of playing sideline-to-sideline. Vallejo was an incredibly productive sophomore before a wrist injury limited him this season. He’s a productive player with great football character, and should grow into a role as a rotational LB with upside.
Round 7, Pick 249 — OT Storm Norton, Toledo
I love this pick so much in the 7th round that I’ll make it again. Atlanta has an opening at swing tackle after Tom Compton’s departure, and with no TEs worth selecting at this point in the draft, they use their final pick on a developmental prospect at OT.
Here’s what I said about Norton in my last mock draft:
Storm Norton is a truly massive (6’8, 311) offensive lineman with enormous arms (35 in). Despite the size, he’s an impressive athlete with good strength and solid technique. He’s somewhat of a developmental prospect at this point, but Norton has the physical traits and the football character that you can’t teach. The last time Atlanta picked up a gigantic developmental tackle, he turned into the long-term starter at RT (Schraeder). Norton has that kind of upside, and could compete for a roster spot right away.
There it is, my final mock draft. This is another well-rounded class with several players that can come in and contribute immediately (Rivers, Elflein, Johnson) and a few intriguing depth and rotational pieces (Thompson, Vallejo, Norton). I’d be pretty happy with this haul for the Falcons, although I believe Atlanta is likely to trade back at some point to pick up a 6th round selection.
What are your thoughts on this draft class? Who do you think Atlanta will come away with this weekend?