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Senior Bowl prospects to watch for the Falcons

As Senior Bowl week officially begins, here are some of the top prospects that the Falcons might be interested in during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Auburn v Central Florida Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Senior Bowl week is well underway, and with it we’re beginning to get some reporting about prospects that NFL teams are interested in. Our very own Charles McDonald is in Mobile this week, and has already gotten the scoop from Quinn about some of the prospects the Falcons are keeping a close eye on. In particular, Atlanta seems to be interested in guards and TEs, with a few other positions (like DT, LB, and DE) thrown into the mix.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite prospects that are appearing at the Senior Bowl this week. I think each of these players would fit right in with what the Falcons are doing on offense and defense, and could present solid value at their current draft projections.

DT Harrison Phillips

Phillips has generated a lot of buzz recently after an impressive senior season that saw him pile up 103 tackles, 17 TFL, and 7.5 sacks. Those are absolutely absurd stats for a defensive tackle, but the 6’4, 295 Phillips managed them from playing both the 1T and 3T during his time at Stanford. He’s not a tremendous athlete, but he makes up for it with his relentless motor.

As a competitor, Phillips is a player that Quinn would absolutely fall in love with, as he’d fit right in with the culture the Falcons are building on defense. Phillips’ stock is a little bit volatile right now, as his stats and his tape seem to tell slightly different stories. He struggled to produce against double teams and his ceiling as an NFL pass rusher will probably be capped due to his athletic limitations. Still, as a Day 2 prospect, Phillips could be someone the Falcons are very interested in.

G Isaiah Wynn

There’s a very vocal section of the fanbase who believe that the Falcons need to spend an early pick to shore up the guard position. If you’re a part of that group, one of your top targets should be Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn. At 6’2, 308, Wynn is considered too small to play tackle at the NFL level despite playing that position at a very high level for Georgia in 2017. That being said, Wynn certainly has the athletic ability to play tackle—which makes him an exceptionally athletic guard prospect.

Wynn is one of the most impressive run blockers in the 2017 class and demonstrates good strength to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. He’s also an excellent technician with the potential to be a very good pass protector on the interior. Wynn’s price tag is likely to be a second round pick, but the Falcons would be a getting a high-level offensive lineman and a leader that could solidify an interior line spot for years to come.

LB Shaquem Griffin

Dan Quinn is always looking to add competitors to the defense, and there might not be a better one in the 2018 NFL Draft than UCF LB Shaquem Griffin. Griffin is perhaps most famous for having only one hand due to a genetic condition, but that hasn’t stopped him from being perhaps the best player on the field at times for UCF. As far as on-field work, Griffin played at several different spots for the defense in 2017, including as an ILB, OLB, and an edge rusher.

He’s capable of doing it all, and did, with 74 tackles, 13 TFL, and 7 sacks to go along with an INT, three PDs, and two forced fumbles. Griffin’s competitive fire and attitude make him extremely entertaining to watch, and you know the Falcons love having that type of presence in the locker room. As a mid-round pick, Griffin can serve as high-level depth early in his career with the potential to grow into a bigger role—and he’ll be a force on special teams.

TE Dallas Goedert

A small school player that has been generating buzz in a similar fashion to Adam Shaheen last year, Goedert added even more fuel to his fire with an impressive weigh-in at the Senior Bowl. Coming in at 6’4, 260, some of the concerns about Goedert’s size and ability to hold up as a blocker were silenced. What wasn’t a concern was Goedert’s ability to make plays as a receiver—the South Dakota State TE piled up 72 passes for 1,111 yards and 7 TDs in 2017.

Goedert is a physical presence at TE with prototypical size, and he can make circus catches look routine. While he’s not an elite athlete, he has plenty of speed and enough quickness to present match-up problems for LBs. Obviously, the jump in competition from the FCS to the NFL will be significant, but Goedert is a true dual-threat at TE that could be molded into a significant contributor down the line.

WR Tre’Quan Smith

The Falcons haven’t been linked to many receivers at the Senior Bowl thus far, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the team adds someone in the Day 2 range to complement Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Tre’Quan Smith from UCF would fit that role perfectly. After an excellent redshirt junior season that saw him post 54 catches for 1082 yards (for a ridiculous 19.8 YPC) and 13 TDs, Smith has established himself as a dynamic deep-threat that can also make plays in the red zone.

At 6’1, 202, he’s a more well-rounded option than Taylor Gabriel—although not quite as explosive and dynamic in the open field—that can do some of the same things, including taking jet sweeps and screen passes for big gains. He’d be an ideal fit in the Falcons offense as a WR3 with the potential to grow into a WR2 down the road.

Who are some players that you’ll be watching closely during the Senior Bowl? Any surprise sleepers or players that you think might get a boost from this week’s practices?