It seems so far away, but before you know it, the Falcons will be on the clock in the 2018 NFL Draft. Before we get there, there is still a long road ahead of of combine workouts, pro days, and individual workouts to get through.
The Falcons themselves do not have a ton of holes to focus on this offseason, but this is still a critical offseason for a team that is capable of making a Super Bowl run and needs to get even stronger and look to the future. It starts with their draft. So let’s forecast what the upcoming 2018 draft may look like for the Dirty Birds.
Round 1, 26th Overall - Taven Bryan, DT , Florida
It is no longer a secret that the Falcons will likely see a departure or two along the interior defensive line. Starting nose tackle Dontari Poe will probably head for “greener” pastures in a bigger payday.
To help soften his departure, the selection of Bryan will add another 300-pounder who has a great combination of size and strength to tag team with Grady Jarrett. Bryan will need development and probably at least a year away from seeing his true potential, but even at his current stage, he brings another dose of athleticism to a defensive line already in possession of it. Need more on Bryan? Check out my scouting report.
Round 2, 58th Overall - Braden Smith, G , Auburn
The Falcons will have a decision to make this offseason with veteran guard Andy Levitre. The chances of him being back in 2018 are good given his skill, although they will have to restructure his contract if they want to keep him around and free up money for other signings.
The other starter, Wes Schweitzer, was decent in his first year as a starter but much was left to be desired. In Smith, the Falcons get a 6’6 blocker who is NFL strong already and adds some toughness that Schweitzer may not necessarily be equipped with.
Round 3, 90th Overall - Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest
Another selection made by the Falcons that could be tied to their free agency decision this offseason. Veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and while he’s coming off a career-high in sacks in 2017, he’s facing that age of 30 and contract extension looming. It’s quite possible the Falcons will part ways and Ejiofor is the perfect selection to fill that void.
The former Demon Deacon is 6’4” with long arms and the versatility to get after the quarterback on the edge and the interior. Ejiofor, Takk McKinley, and Vic Beasley on the field at once will undoubtedly wreck havoc in opposing backfields.
Round 4, 128th Overall - Keke Coutee, WR , Texas Tech
That’s right. I went receiver, although some may be opposed to this move. Consider me one of those who are not foreseeing Taylor Gabriel back with Atlanta in 2018.
In Coutee, the Falcons get electric receiver who is the deep threat that the team still needs, even on an offense full of weapons. One unique thing that Coutee brings to the table is that he is three inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Gabriel right now. So he brings the speed/playmaking skills and a little more size to the table. This gives the team a stick of dynamite next to Julio and Sanu.
Round 6, 203rd Overall - Dimitri Flowers, FB , Oklahoma
Let’s shake things up a little bit on offense again. We all witnessed how key a fullback was in the Falcons offense during the 2016 season with Patrick DiMarco handing out blocks left and right. While Derrick Coleman was decent in 2017 at the position, a Swiss army knife like Flowers could bring in the blocking prowess of DiMarco and add in versatility as a pass catcher.
Flowers scored nine touchdowns this past season for Oklahoma and can add another versatile dynamic to the Falcons offense.
Round 7, 244th Overall - Dee Delaney, CB , Miami
The Falcons decided to let go of former second-round pick Jalen Collins this past November, and while the combination of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole is a solid trio, some size could be useful at the cornerback position. That is what Delaney brings to the table.
At 6’1”, 195 pounds, Delaney has ballhawking skills with 14 career interceptions and is still learning the position even with four years of collegiate experience under his belt. At worst, Delaney can add much-needed talent on special teams.
Round 7, 256th Overall - DJ Calhoun, LB , Arizona State
Calhoun is a thumper and plays with a chip on his shoulder. His size will scare teams away at barely 5’11, but Calhoun could carve a niche on the Falcons depth chart at the linebacker spot. Again, Calhoun could at least add some juice to an average special teams by the Falcons in 2017.