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Falcons 7-Round Mock Draft: Penultimate Edition

In Kevin’s second-to-last mock draft of the season, the Falcons make some quality upgrades to the defensive line and secondary.

Washington State v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

We’re less than two weeks away from the 2018 NFL Draft, which is pretty darn exciting. The Falcons are clearly finalizing their draft plans—and have been very active over the past week in visiting with prospects—which means that it’s time for me to do the same.

My last two mock drafts will be “predictive” mocks, or basically my best guesses at how the actual draft will unfold. I’ll be using all the data at my disposal, including the most recent buzz, prospect visits, and my own evaluations to come up with a 7-round mock draft that should hopefully be at least somewhat close to the real thing.

For these final mocks, I’ll continue to use the Fanspeak On the Clock mock draft simulator. Here are the settings I used if you’d like to run your own simulation: Composite big board, User-Voted team needs, Difficult setting.

Without further adieu, please enjoy my penultimate mock draft of the 2018 draft season—and yes, this was all just an elaborate way to work “penultimate” into a piece.

Round 1, Pick 26: DT Taven Bryan, Florida

With Maurice Hurst’s medicals checking out, the number of DTs available in the late first round are slim to none. In this scenario, Taven Bryan is still on the board at pick 26, which makes him an easy selection for the Falcons. Bryan is more raw than the other first round DTs, but his athletic ceiling might be the highest of any of them. Quinn has a history of going after Florida players, which makes the connection with Atlanta obvious. Here’s what I wrote about Bryan in my DT prospect preview:

The 6’4, 291 Taven Bryan is an explosive and strong playmaker from the interior of the defensive line. Bryan was simply asked to shoot gaps every single play while at Florida, and he excelled at it. That style of play has led to some questions about his discipline and ability to play the run, but I’m not terribly concerned about that. Bryan’s athletic testing will likely determine how early in Round 1 he goes.

Round 2, Pick 58: CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

There are a lot of directions the Falcons can go with their second round pick, but the value at CB was simply too good to pass up. Isaiah Oliver is a fringe first-round talent that checks the boxes of a Dan Quinn CB: he’s athletic, physical, and big. When I say big, I’m talking about his 6’1, 201 lb frame and his arms, which are freakishly long—Oliver’s 33 1/2” arm length and 80 5/8” wingspan put him in the 97th and 98 percentiles, respectively, among CBs.

Oliver is similar in many ways to ex-Falcon Jalen Collins, except he’s more polished and has none of the off-field baggage. He still needs development—Oliver’s coverage technique needs refinement and he needs to work on his tackling. However, he’s got a very high ceiling and is a natural fit in the Falcons’ defense. Atlanta clearly agrees, as they’ve already had a private workout with Oliver. Oliver could challenge for the CB3 role in his rookie season, with the potential to play on the outside in nickel situations—allowing Alford to kick inside, where he’s had considerable success.

Round 3, Pick 90: DT P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State

The Falcons will likely look to double-dip at DT in the 2018 NFL Draft—provided the value is good—and they have an opportunity to do so in the third round with the selection of Sam Houston State’s P.J. Hall. A late riser in the 2018 draft class that has been building considerable hype since his Pro Day, Hall tested like a freakish athlete and has a history of dominant production against his lower level of competition.

At 6’1, 310, Hall is certainly big enough to play at the NFL level. There are questions, however, such as: how long will it take for him to adjust, and can his crazy production translate in any way to the pro game? It’s hard to say for certain, but I love Hall’s potential as a mid-round sleeper. The Falcons are clearly interested in Hall, recently holding a private workout for him for Quinn and DL coach Bryant Young. His draft value is quite volatile at the moment, but he’s a solid pick in the late third round.

Round 4, Pick 126: LB Fred Warner, BYU

The Falcons brought back LB/S Kemal Ishmael to shore up the LB depth, but they still need another player there—particularly with uncertainty surrounding Duke Riley’s future role. Fred Warner, if he’s still available this late, would be a great pick for Atlanta—he meets Quinn’s athletic thresholds, has a versatile skillset, and could be a force on special teams. The Falcons have also shown interest in him. Here’s what I wrote about Warner in my LB prospect preview:

The latest in the line of “hybrid” or “money” LBs in the Deone Bucannon mold, Fred Warner also has experience playing both LB and safety during his career. At 6’3, 227, he’s got the frame to play either spot, too. He’s a good athlete and a fluid mover with plenty of experience in coverage. Warner also has fairly well developed instincts for such a versatile player, which should make his NFL transition easier. He’ll need to improve his technique as a tackler and add more bulk to his frame at the NFL level, but Warner is an intriguing prospect in the early Day 3 range.

Round 6, Pick 200: WR Javon Wims, Georgia

With the way this draft fell, the Falcons were unable to get an immediate contributor for the WR group. That doesn’t mean they have to walk away empty-handed, however. Georgia’s Javon Wims, who the Falcons worked out at their Local Pro Day, could be a good fit as a developmental prospect with upside late in the draft. I like Wims’ potential as a future WR3, and here’s what I had to say about him in my WR prospect preview:

A local favorite with great size at 6’3, 215, Javon Wims made a name for himself in 2017 with an impressive season that saw him take over as Georgia’s WR1. He’s great at pulling in contested catches and can win as a deep threat with his size, but Wims doesn’t have the look of a great athlete and needs to continue to develop his route running. As a late-round pick, Wims offers the ability to make an impact early on, but his ceiling is likely a solid-to-good WR3.

Round 7, Pick 244: QB Riley Ferguson, Memphis

There’s been plenty of smoke out there about the Falcons looking for a young, cheap option at back-up QB to replace the expensive and aging veteran Matt Schaub. I think it’s extremely likely the Falcons use one of their Day 3 picks on such a player, and Riley Ferguson seems like an obvious choice. Atlanta has shown interest in Ferguson, he’s a natural fit in a West Coast offense, and he’s likely to be available later in the draft. Here’s what I wrote about Ferguson in a previous mock draft:

Ferguson was one of the more exciting QBs in college football in 2017, putting up 3,698 yards, 32 TDs, and only 10 INTs to go along with a 63% completion percentage. He’s got some plus traits that would fit well in an offense like Atlanta’s, like experience and comfort running play-action and bootlegs. There are some technical issues he’ll need to clean up, but Ferguson could be a much more affordable replacement for aging veteran Matt Schaub.

Round 7, Pick 256: EDGE Peter Kalambayi, Stanford

The Falcons could use more depth at EDGE with the departure of Adrian Clayborn. If Stanford’s Peter Kalambayi is still hanging around this late in the draft, it’d be smart for Atlanta to bring him in before he becomes a UDFA. Kalambayi is an impressive athlete with solid size (6’3, 243), but he’s never managed to find much sustained success as a pass rusher.

He’s a project, but he’s a project with considerable upside for such a late round pick. At worst, Kalambayi should offer serviceable back-up ability with the potential to be a very good special teams contributor. Long-term, Kalambayi could carve out a role as a versatile SAM LB or perhaps even as a team’s #3 or #4 pass rusher. I like the value here, and if anyone can get something out of Kalambayi, it’s Dan Quinn.

In this scenario, the Falcons walk away from the 2018 NFL Draft with a pretty good haul of players. They get their impact players on the defensive line with the ultra-athletic Taven Bryan and the high-ceiling potential of P.J. Hall. They also get a potential future CB2 in Isaiah Oliver who could help elevate the secondary to one of the NFL’s elite units in a season or two. The Falcons also add an athletic and versatile LB prospect in Fred Warner, a developmental WR in Javon Wims, a potential Matt Schaub replacement in QB Riley Ferguson, and a project with potential in EDGE Peter Kalambayi.

I’d be pretty happy with this draft class. The Falcons address all of their most pressing needs—although they weren’t able to dedicate quite as many resources to WR and EDGE as I would’ve liked. Still, they do get a surprisingly big upgrade at CB—perhaps Oliver could be what Collins’ was supposed to be, but without any of the off-field nonsense. A CB trio with Trufant, Alford, and Oliver could legitimately challenge for the NFL’s best in the future.

What do you think of this mock draft scenario for the Falcons? Who are some players you love, and some that you disagreed with? Share your own mocks in the comments below!