With the 2017 NFL Draft fast approaching, teams are finalizing their draft boards and visiting with prospects that interest them. Just yesterday, the Falcons visited with WKU offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, who (spoiler alert) makes an appearance in this mock draft.
Once again, I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator to mock all seven rounds for Atlanta. This week’s mock hits some familiar notes, but also takes a different direction with some picks. The way the board fell, there were good values at positions of need for the Falcons, making this one of many ideal scenarios.
Let’s jump right in.
Round 1, Pick 31 - G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The best interior offensive lineman in the 2017 draft class falls right into Atlanta’s lap. Lamp is an elite athlete with surprising technical ability and experience playing multiple positions on the offensive line. While he’s on the small side for OT, he’s a perfect fit at guard (6’4, 309).
In Lamp, the Falcons would have a plug-and-play starter at RG who would excel in Atlanta’s zone blocking scheme. His presence in between Alex Mack and Ryan Schraeder could potentially elevate Atlanta’s offensive line to one of the best in the league.
Round 2, Pick 63 - EDGE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
A player that has become one of my favorite edge rushers makes his second appearance in my mock drafts. Atlanta has genuine interest in Derek Rivers, and with the depth of this year’s EDGE class, it’s a distinct possibility that he will still be around when the Falcons pick at 63.
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 3, Pick 95 - DL Chris Wormley, Michigan
The Falcons double-dip on the defensive line by adding the physically imposing Chris Wormley from Michigan. At 6’5, 298, Wormley can play both DE and DT. He’s got impressive strength and solid technique in both pass rushing and run defending to go along with above average athleticism for his size.
Wormley could come in and immediately replace Tyson Jackson at SDE in the base package, with a lot more upside as a pass rusher and the ability to kick inside on passing downs. He adds another young, versatile chess piece to Quinn’s defensive line rotation.
Round 4, Pick 136 - TE George Kittle, Iowa
One of the most technically sound and NFL-ready blocking TEs in the 2017 draft, George Kittle also proved at the Combine that he’s quite the athlete. At 6’4, 247, he ran a 4.52-forty and posted an impressive 132 inches in the broad jump. Couple that with sure hands and a physical, aggressive style of play and you’ve got an interesting dual-threat TE prospect.
Atlanta seems fairly set with Hooper and Toilolo as their 1 and 2 TEs, but Kittle would be an upgrade over their current depth. He hasn’t generated much hype, in part due to the ridiculous depth of this year’s TE class, but Kittle is a legitimate talent and could end up being a great value at this point in the draft.
Round 5, Pick 174 - S Eddie Jackson, Alabama
Speaking of great values, Eddie Jackson at this point in the draft is a borderline steal. While he’s not an elite player, Jackson showcased good athletic ability and excellent instincts in his time at Alabama. As an ex-CB, Jackson has great coverage chops and can handle man coverage responsibilities from time to time.
Jackson’s injury is likely what could cause him to fall to this point in the draft, but he should be ready to go by Week 1. He’s got genuine talent as a punt/kick returner, too. He wouldn’t be asked to start right away, and could help out as a depth piece and special teams standout early in his career.
Round 7, Pick 249 - OT Storm Norton, Toledo
With Tom Compton departing, the Falcons have a need for a new swing tackle. Enter Storm Norton, 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.
I’d be pretty excited if the Falcons made this mock draft a reality. They fill their biggest need with arguably the best player at his position in G Forrest Lamp, who should come in and start at a high level right away. Then, they beef up the defensive line with two talented young players in EDGE Derek Rivers and DL Chris Wormley, who should be able to work their way into starting roles in the near future.
Couple that with some intriguing depth pieces in TE George Kittle, S Eddie Jackson, and OT Storm Norton, and you have the makings of another excellent draft class for Atlanta.
What would you think of this draft for the Falcons? Who are some other players you have your eyes on?