The days are dwindling down for the Atlanta Falcons before the 2018 NFL Draft. Many rumors have swirled and many reports have developed but after the heavy lifting phase of free agency, the draft outlook for the Falcons looks a little more defined. How will the Falcons address the defensive line? Will they add on offensive weapon at receiver or tight end? Is there secondary help on the horizon?
Here is my fourth mock draft for the Falcons.
Round 1, 26th Overall - Maurice Hurst, DT , Michigan
There are four defensive tackles in the upcoming draft that will likely be first round draft picks and all four are on the minds of head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Out of Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne, Taven Bryan and Maurice Hurst, all four bring useful qualities to the table in order for the Falcons to succeed along the defensive line.
Of the four, it seems that Hurst is the most likely to be available for the Falcons at 26th overall. It was recently stated by coach Dan Quinn that the defensive tackle class has a pool of prospects between 280-300 lbs that possess great quickness and versatility, which just so happens to describe Mr. Hurst. In a situation where I see Vea, Payne, and Bryan gone by 26th overall, the Falcons decide to select a defensive tackle that has a ceiling that is equally comparable to those three in terms of talent.
Round 2, 58th Overall - BJ Hill, DT , North Carolina State
Defensive tackle is an obvious need for the Falcons, so they decide to double-up at the spot and create a scary trio along with Grady Jarrett by adding the athletic 315-pound Hill. The 6’4 wall impressed scouts at the NFL combine and made even more of an impression on the Falcons coaching staff and front office as they conducted workouts along with interviews at the combine. So it is safe to say that Hill garnered plenty of interest from Quinn and company.
Hill comes equipped with plenty of athleticism as well impressive instincts as a gap penetrator. At the point of attack, he needs to improve but that is somewhat of a quick fix for a prospect such as Hill. Consider defensive tackle one of the better strengths of the team with the drafting of Hurst and Hill.
Round 3, 90th Overall - Keke Coutee, WR , Texas Tech
Taking Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu out of the picture, the Falcons don’t have a ton of reliability at the receiver. The jury is still out on Justin Hardy who is entering his fourth season. He may see a surge in targets and playing time but we still don’t know what to expect from the former East Carolina star.
The team also does not have a deep threat minus Julio the Great. Coutee can change that. His 4.43 speed at the combine was on display as it was on film when he blew past defenders. His short-area quickness and sharp footwork can give defenders fits. Coutee has some similarities in his game to Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill. Even at 5’10, Coutee can be a dangerous weapon and can easily fill the void left by Taylor Gabriel.
Round 4, 126th Overall - Breeland Speaks, DL, Ole Miss
Ever seen an athletic 283-pounder that played on the edge, the interior, and on occasion a standup middle linebacker? That is the type of versatility that Speaks brings to the table. He lined up in multiple spots with the Rebels and recorded 67 tackles and seven sacks this past season for Ole Miss. Speaks shows the ability to adapt and remain effective whether it’s rushing the quarterback from the interior or beating offensive tackles with surprise quickness to breathe down the pocket passer.
Round 6, 200th Overall - Chandon Sullivan, CB , Georgia State
Even with the Falcons having solid trio of corners in Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole, a case can be made that a slight boost in talent could be had. At 5’11, 194 pounds, Sullivan has very quick feet and short-area quickness that is reminiscent of Trufant and Alford. Sullivan has started at the cornerback spot since his freshman season and he definitely brings experience to the table. Sullivan brings the potential to truly round out the cornerback position for the Falcons and allow Damontae Kazee to smoothly transition to free safety.
Round 7, 244th Overall - Afolabi Laguda, S , Colorado
If you’ve been paying close attention, the Falcons have been getting to know Laguda quite well after attending and meeting Laguda at Colorado’s Pro Day as well as the team’s local Pro Day. Laguda has the height, weight measurements (6’1 205 lbs) that will entice a few teams as a strong safety. He also brings special teams experience and for a Falcons team that was in need of athletes and toughness on special teams last season, Laguda can be a reliable weapon for that phase alone.
Round 7, 256th Overall - Malik Williams, RB , Louisville
It is a well known story at this point that running back Tevin Coleman is facing free agency soon. The idea of keeping Coleman and Devonta Freeman is possible but knowing this coaching staff and front office, they like to prepare for the future. Williams may not be as dangerous as Coleman in the open field but he has shown glimpses of being a tough ball carrier that makes defenders pay when they attempt to tackle. Williams can be a RB3 option for 2018 which will allow the selection of Hines earlier to remain flexible for the offense.