A midseason win streak was met with a midseason slump that may very well culminate in the Atlanta Falcons missing the playoffs. So let’s take a very early dive in a full 2019 mock draft for the Falcons.
A dose of reality fell upon the Falcons and their fan base after a tough, last-second loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 and a bitter loss on the road to the Saints on Thanksgiving. The playoff picture looks considerably dimmer for a Falcons team that is still somewhat reeling from devastating injuries. As the season goes along, it may be wise to start looking at the draft season and how the Falcons can add a little firepower to what is still a talented team that is capable of making a deep run when healthy. Without further ado, here is my first crack at a full mock draft for the Atlanta Falcons.
Round 1, 7th overall - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Now that the Falcons are in top-10 territory, there is elite, prime talent to be had, especially on the defensive line. So the Falcons get lucky here with a ferocious interior presence in Williams. The 285-pound defensive tackle has a skill set that showcases speed, power, and an array of moves to penetrate the opposing backfield.
Is defensive tackle a great need at the moment for the Falcons? Not necessarily, but Williams has some Aaron Donald in his game (not an entire comparison but there are some traits) and his talent on the interior would be hard to pass up inserting alongside veteran Grady Jarrett.
Round 2, 42nd overall - Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
The Falcons offensive line has seen a couple of season-ending injuries that coincide with inconsistency from what was a top group overall coming into the season. The future of veteran guard Andy Levitre is up in the air, as the 32-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. I feel confident in right guard Brandon Fusco being 100 percent healthy and reliable next season, but here is where the Falcons can address what may be a void with Levitre possibly not being brought back.
Lindstrom has the prototype frame that the Falcons look for at 6’4 and 305 pounds. He possesses impressive strength at the point of attack and has the ability to get to the second level and wipe away defenders in space. Pass blocking is a plus for Lindstrom as well, as he is stout in that department thanks to his underrated technique. Lindstrom can be the answer at left guard if the team moves on from Levitre and can create a camp battle with Wes Schweitzer.
Round 3, 73rd overall - Joe Jackson, DE , Miami
The Falcons need to address their defensive line heavily this offseason, and there is a very good defensive line crop in this year’s draft for them to walk away with a couple of needed pieces. In Jackson, the Falcons add a 6’5 pass rusher who is long and has good NFL size at 260 pounds. Jackson also has a motor that is infectious and something that head coach Dan Quinn will appreciate. For a guy who has been a legitimate factor as a pass rusher since his freshman season, he needs polish in his overall technique. That’s a workable “flaw” that can pay off thanks to his great upside.
Round 4, 104th overall - Mark Gilbert, CB, Duke
Coming into the season, the cornerback position was considered a true strength for the Falcons with the starting tandem of Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford as well as the drafting of 2018 second rounder Isaiah Oliver. Unfortunately, the play of both Trufant and Alford along with the inconsistency from slot corner Brian Poole has put the Falcons in a position where adding depth and a potential starter down the line is a great possibility.
Gilbert brings ideal NFL size for Quinn and his Cover 3 defensive coverage at 6’1 175 pounds. Gilbert is well schooled as a corner with his overall skill set. His six interceptions and 15 pass breakups during the 2017 season showed his potential as a corner with good ball skills. His overall technique is pretty refined, and he is experienced in both man and zone coverage. Much will not be asked of Gilbert in year one in Atlanta, but his addition, along with Oliver, gives the Falcons at the very least a good-sized cornerback duo to boost an underwhelming unit this season.
Round 4, Compensatory Pick - Colton Jackson, OT, Arkansas
The play of veteran right tackle Ryan Schraeder has also raised concerns along the offensive line, and while the Falcons have invested considerably into him, it is possible that the team will look to bring in quality insurance in case Schraeder continues to look lackluster in the near future.
Jackson has the athleticism that the Falcons can use along their lean and agile offensive line. He brings what Schraeder has shown to struggle with, and that is speed and ability to move fluidly in pass protection. Jackson will need some refinement also in his overall technique, but the Falcons can find a future starter in Jackson with the second of their two picks in the fourth round.
Round 5, 139th overall - Trevon Hill, DE, Virginia Tech
The theme of adding more punch to the defensive line continues. Hill had a sour end to his Virginia Tech career with his dismissal back in September, but don’t let that distract you from his ability to get after the quarterback as a weakside defensive end. Hill shows plenty of bend around the edge and his speed is enough to keep offenses on their toes when he’s lined up on third down. Hill’s burst at the snap is dangerous, and his addition to the Falcons roster along with Jackson adds length and quickness that the Falcons desperately need.
Round 5, Compensatory Pick - Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
If you have been following my draft work here at the Falcoholic, I have been pounding the table for some time now for the Falcons to take a developmental quarterback and let him learn behind the under-appreciated Matt Ryan. The team has a number of picks this draft to make this move. In Patterson, the Falcons grab a strong-armed quarterback who may not have great size in terms of height, but he makes up for it with his natural passing ability. Patterson will probably not see the field anytime soon thanks to the solidness that is Ryan, but the grooming that he will receive will definitely prep the Falcons for the future.
Round 6, 170th overall - Tanner Muse, S/LB, Clemson
There is no question that the absence of linebacker Deion Jones truly gutted the defense. His return to full health will provide a difference maker. The development of rookie Foye Oloukun also adds a promising piece to the puzzle, and it’s possible that Quinn and Marquand Manuel could look into that combination next season.
So here, the Falcons address the depth around Jones, Oloukun, and De’Vondre Campbell. Muse will be a project as he transitions to linebacker full time a la Kemal Ishmael. Muse has seen some considerable time at weakside linebacker this season in the Clemson defense after playing strong safety all his career. His coverage skills are surprisingly effective as he showed the ability to stick to tight ends and even big slot receivers. He will need some time to round out as he plays closer to the line of scrimmage but at worst, Muse can be another special teams asset until he figure things out.
Round 7, 202nd overall - Darius Anderson, RB, TCU
Speed is the calling card for Anderson and it has been evident as he averaged 5.7 yards per carry over his career along with roughly 1,700 total yards from scrimmage over his three seasons at TCU. The Falcons may see some attrition this offseason with the likelihood of veteran Tevin Coleman departing. Anderson could come in year one and possibly be the third running back for the Falcons and provide training camp competition to Brian Hill and other likely competitors.