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2018 SB Nation NFL mock draft: Atlanta lands its defensive tackle at pick #26

The hyper-athletic defensive tackle needs some work, but could wind up being a special player.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, I put on my drafting pants and try to land quality players for the Falcons via my annual seven round mock draft and, of course, my selection in the writers’ mock draft at SB Nation.

This year, I wound up with Florida’s Taven Bryan. I’m a firm believer that the Falcons should take a defensive tackle if one of the better ones is still on the board at #26, and Bryan making it there still feels like the most likely scenario in which one of the quote-unquote top four makes it to Atlanta. Bryan is a tremendous athlete who can cause havoc in a backfield, but needs seasoning, coaching, and work to become a great player. The upside is certainly there, though, and he’ll be able to spend time rotating with Jack Crawford in his first season, working with quality defensive line coach Bryant Young, and picking up tips from emerging star Grady Jarrett. I think it’s a pretty nice fit.

Mocking The Draft guru Dan Kadar called it the “obvious” selection, given need and availability, and I’d tend to agree that if Bryan is the best defensive tackle available at #26, he’s a bit of a slam dunk pick. He’s not my favorite prospect at the position, but with Hurst, Vea, and Payne long gone, he’s a sensible choice, in my opinion.

You can read the full writeup on Bryan here at SB Nation.

In the interest of full disclosure and potential ridicule, here’s who I’ve had the Falcons landing in the past decade I’ve been submitting picks for this draft. I would have been thrilled to wind up with the 2014 or 2011 hauls, and I’ve nailed a small handful of picks (Keanu Neal a round late, Sean Weatherspoon in 2010), but it’s a Mel Kiper-esque mixed bag otherwise. I’ve been chasing elite defensive ends for years, but the Falcons managed to out-do me by landing Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley in 2015 and 2017.

Previous Mock Drafts

2017: DE Derek Rivers | G Dorian Johnson

2016: DE Shaq Lawson | S Keanu Neal

2015: DE Randy Gregory | CB/S Eric Rowe

2014: LB Khalil Mack | T Morgan Moses

2013: DE Tank Carradine | CB David Amerson

2012: RB David Wilson

2011: DE/LB Justin Houston | T Marcus Gilbert

2010: LB Sean Weatherspoon

2009: ILB James Laurinitis | S Michael Hamlin

2008: T Jake Long | QB Joe Flacco | DT Kentwan Balmer | CB Tracy Porter | RB Tony Hunt