The Atlanta Falcons added four rookies to the 2017 draft class this afternoon. Overall they add six talented football players over the course of three whirlwind days featuring a trade up, a trade down, and a viral hashtag. (If #finemelater didn’t put a smile on your face, then you’re officially dead inside.)
But without further ado, here’s your 2017 draft class:
Takkarist McKinley - Round 1, Pick 26 - DE, UCLA
“Takk” is a passionate player whose energy and effort is difficult to match. Quinn wants to play him at defensive end, at least initially, despite a relatively small frame for the position. A recent shoulder surgery could sideline him until late summer. Bottom line is this kid eats quarterbacks for breakfast, all day every day.
Duke Riley - Round 3, Pick 11 - LB, LSU
Deion Jones’ former teammate and clone. Riley, like 2016 draft picks Jones and De’Vondre Campbell, has truly elite speed. (His 4.58 40 yard dash was the second fastest among LBs at the combine.) He’s going to fly all over the football field and will star on special teams immediately. Eventually he’s likely to grow into a starting, patrolling the middle of the field alongside Jones.
Sean Harlow - Round 4, Pick 30 - OG, Oregon State
The departure of Chris Chester made guard a priority but the Falcons seem to like their internal options. Harlow will compete with Wes Schweitzer, Hugh Thornton, and Ben Garland for Chester’s old gig. Played a lot at OT in college but is better suited to play inside at the next level. He’s athletic, strong, and mean. In theory, not a lot to dislike about this pick.
Damontae Kazee - Round 5, Pick 5 - CB/S, San Diego State
A ferocious nickel corner or backup safety, that’s what the Falcons got with this pick. The secondary was already solid and the Falcons went out an added some additional depth. I won’t be surprised in Kazee or Brian Poole get reps at safety, just in case.
Brian Hill - Round 5, Pick 12 - RB, Wyoming
Hill called himself the best running back in the draft after his selection. I’m not so sure that’s true, and he’ll need to work hard to get reps, but I certainly respect his confidence. Hill is basically a prototypical running back that does most things a running back should do reasonably well. As third running backs go, teams trot out far worse options.
Eric Saubert - Round 5, Pick 31 - TE, Drake
This selection is all about untapped potential. Saubert is a former team captain with elite receiving skills he hasn’t harnessed yet. He will need to become a willing blocker and stop dropping balls, but an Austin Hooper-Saubert 1-2 punch could be pretty nifty in a couple years.
A good showing by the front office overall. They added speed and talent to their defense. They added depth to their offense. I’m pleased. Are you?