It’s mock season, everyone. There are plenty of mock drafts online, but of course some of them are more credible than others, some make more sense than others, and some are just downright awful. Most Atlanta Falcons fans can agree that defensive tackle will be taken in the first round, and those who don’t probably have them taking one in the second round.
That being said, let’s take a look at what many analysts think the Falcons will do and then I’ll give my take on it.
CBS Sports Mock Drafts
Chris Trapasso: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
R.J. White: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Will Brinson: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Pete Prisco: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Ryan Wilson: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Jared Dubin: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Looking at Chris Trapasso’s mock draft Vita Vea was taken pick 17 to the Los Angeles Chargers, Maurice Hurst was taken pick 22 to the Buffalo Bills, and Taven Bryan was taken one pick ahead of the Falcons, by the Seattle Seahawks. So the pick of Da’Ron Payne in that situation is beyond ideal. They get a stud defensive tackle, and he basically falls in their laps.
In R.J White’s mock draft, Da’Ron Payne went pick 11 to the Miami Dolphins and Vita Vea went pick 13 to the Washington Redskins. So at pick 26, the Falcons could choose between Maurice Hurst or Taven Bryan, and they went with the latter while Hurst isn’t picked in the first round.
The first thing that I noticed is the outlier pick of Will Brinson’s having Mike Hughes going to the Falcons. In that draft, Payne went pick 20 to the Detroit Lions. Vita Vea went a pick before that, to the Dallas Cowboys. However, Maurice Hurst went 5 picks after the Falcons, to the New England Patriots, and Taven Bryan who was heavily mocked by Brinson’s colleagues didn't even get taken in the first round. Taking a corner with Bryan and Hurst on the board seems pretty mind-boggling to me.
In Pete Prisco’s draft Vita Vea is picked 11th by the Miami Dolphins, Da’Ron Payne is picked 20th by the Detroit Lions, so it looks like when the Falcons pick, it’s much like R.J White’s scenario - Maurice Hurst or Taven Bryan and the Falcons again choose Taven Bryan while Hurst makes it out of the first round just like R.J White’s mock.
In Ryan Wilson’s draft Vita Vea is again picked 11th by the Dolphins. Maurice Hurst is taken 20th by the Detroit Lions. The Falcons take Da’Ron Payne here in a scenario where according to prior mocks, it’d be between Payne and Taven Bryan. Taven Bryan doesn’t get his name called in the first round in this mock.
In Jared Dubin’s mock we see Vita Vea again go to the Miami Dolphins at pick 11. Da’Ron Payne goes pick 17, to the LA Chargers, so the Falcons this time choose between Maurice Hurst or Taven Bryan - and Bryan gets the call. Meanwhile Hurst goes pick 31 to the New England Patriots.
Overall: When it comes to the CBS guys, it seems as if defensive tackle is just about the consensus pick, and it’s between Da’Ron Payne or Taven Bryan. I personally included the details on Vita Vea and Maurice Hurst because I think those four guys are the four most likely selections for the Atlanta Falcons come draft night.
NFL.Com Mock Drafts
Bucky Brooks: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Charles Davis: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Lance Zierlein: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Chad Reuter: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Bucky Brooks has the Falcons doing what a lot of CBS guys predict, and going with Da’Ron Payne. Bucky’s scenario is a bit different than the CBS guys though, because in his mock it looks like Maurice Hurst, Taven Bryan, and Da’Ron Payne are all on the board at the Falcons pick. This would have Atlanta Falcons fans watching intently because this wouldn’t just be one of the defensive tackles falling to them.
This would be Quinn and Co. taking ‘their guy’ and in this case, they go with Da’Ron Payne. Taven Bryan goes a pick after, to the New Orleans Saints and Maurice Hurst fails to get picked in the first round.
Charles Davis is a bit different than all mock drafts seen thus far, and has the Falcons taking the guard out of Georgia, Isaiah Wynn. Is this because there was a run on defensive tackles? Well, Vita Vea AGAIN went pick 11 to Miami. Da’Ron Payne was picked 20th by the Detroit Lions, Taven Bryan was taken two picks later by the Buffalo Bills. So it looks like the only defensive tackle getting some first round consideration that is still there is Maurice Hurst. In this scenario the Falcons pull off a bit of a surprise, though Wynn is a very good player.
Lance Zerlein’s mock seems to get back into the groove of getting a defensive tackle, though it isn’t one of the guys that’s been consistently mocked there. Vea goes a pick before Miami (Oh my gosh!) to the Raiders. Da’Ron Payne goes pick 17 to the LA Chargers, and Taven Bryan goes pick 19 to the Dallas Cowboys. Here the Falcons take Maurice Hurst.
Chad Reuter’s mock follows suit with another familiar defensive tackle pick. And again Vita Vea is taken by Miami at pick 11. And then the Falcons take Da’Ron Payne. In this situation, it’s much like Bucky Brooks predicted, they get to choose between Taven Bryan, Maurice Hurst, and Da’Ron Payne, and again they go with Da’Ron Payne. The other two make it out of the first round, surprisingly.
Overall: The NFL.com guys basically share the same idea as the CBS guys that defensive tackle will be focused on early and they have the same guys in that range. These guys really think Vita Vea is a lock to Miami, don’t they?
ESPN Mock Drafts
Mel Kiper: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Todd McShay: Justin Reid, S, Texas A&M
Well...Mel Kiper really shook things up right out of the gate. In his scenario, Vita Vea goes 13 to the Washington Redskins, Da’Ron Payne goes 17 to the LA Chargers and Taven Bryan goes 20 to the Detroit Lions. Maurice Hurst is still on the board in this scenario and the Falcons opt to go with Calvin Ridley a very talented receiver. I’ll leave this one up to you guys to dissect.
McShay, like his colleague, went out of the box and took another position we have not seen thus far - a safety in the form of Justin Reid, out of Texas A&M. In this scenario, Vita Vea goes 12 to the Cincinnati Bengals, Da’Ron Payne goes 19th to the Dallas Cowboys and Taven Bryan goes pick 21 to the Buffalo Bills. Like Kiper, McShay has Maurice Hurst on the board when the Atlanta Falcons pick - and they go another direction.
Overall: The two ESPN mocks I found are both “out-of-the-box” to say the least. Considering that the guys they have the Falcons choosing are taken while a premier defensive tackle is on the board is a head scratcher, who knows what could happen.
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report): Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
Dane Brugler (NFLDraftScout): Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Charlie Campbell (WalterFootball): Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Vinny Iyer (SportingNews): Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Drafttek: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Luke Esterling: (USAToday): Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Jon Ledyard: (NDTScouting): Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Dan Kadar (SB Nation): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
First and foremost, I’d imagine that there are plenty of other mocks that I am missing - but that’s the thing - there are far too many to keep track of. That’s partially the reason for this article. But I’ve wrapped up as many as I could find here, and while we won’t dive deep, I figured you’d like the broadest cross-section of picks possible.
Overall: Most of these guys seemed to follow the defensive tackle mantra, there’s a corner thrown in there as well, but it isn’t necessarily an outlier pick because we have seen it already and that goes for the Isaiah Wynn pick as well.
It seems to be pretty common like I said opening this article that defensive tackle will be favored. Of the 19 mock drafts charted here 13 of them had the Falcons going defensive tackles. 6 for Taven Bryan, 6 for Da’Ron Payne and 1 for Maurice Hurst. Next up it seems the media believes a corner or a guard will be the pick as Mike Hughes and Isaiah Wynn were both selected twice. ESPN goes completely out the box, but anything could happen in draft season.