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Falcons 7-Round Mock Draft: The Kiper Special

In this week’s mock draft, we tackle a unique scenario: what if the Falcons really did go WR in Round 1, and how would it affect their draft as a whole?

SMU v TCU Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

With less than a month to go until the draft, the Falcons have begun finalizing their plans. We’ve heard rumblings about the players that team is zeroing in on, including visits with top prospects like Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne. At the same time, we’ve also seen some...strange...mock drafts from the “experts” like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Both of these analysts took the same unorthodox route for the Falcons in their most recent mocks, with Atlanta selecting a WR at 26 overall (Calvin Ridley for Kiper, D.J. Moore for McShay).

So, in honor of this absolute craziness, let’s take a look at how a draft might play out if the Falcons actually were to select a WR in Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

To create this mock, I used the Fanspeak Mock Draft Simulator. If you’d like to re-create the conditions I used, here are my settings: Fanspeak big board, User-Voted team needs, Difficult setting. Now, without further adieu, I present to you: The Kiper Special.

Round 1, Pick 26: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU

If the Falcons do go WR in the first round—which is exceedingly unlikely—there’s only one player I’d view as acceptable at that position. In a WR class that lacks a true top talent (and perhaps any true WR1), SMU’s Courtland Sutton has the highest potential of all of them. The 6’3, 218 lb receiver has the build of a dominant outside target, and his best attribute might just be his physicality at the catch point.

His 40-yard dash of 4.54 isn’t going to wow you, but it’s plenty fast for a player of Sutton’s size. His 3-cone is downright elite, and his other athletic testing shows a weapon with a ton of upside. Sutton needs some technical refinement, particularly with his route running and ability to create separation, but in Atlanta he’d have ample opportunity to grow behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. I see Sutton as a day 1 WR2 with the best chance of any of the top WRs in this class of turning into a long-term WR1. He could give the Falcons a phenomenal WR3 in his first season, while giving the team long-term flexibility at WR2.

Round 2, Pick 58: DL Rasheem Green, USC

Passing on DT in Round 1 makes things interesting for the Falcons throughout the rest of the draft. The truth is, the value at DT in Round 2 is lackluster, particularly when Atlanta is on the board. Quinn and Dimitroff might need to get creative with this selection, and that’s exactly what they do by going after the versatile DL Rasheem Green. Here’s what I had to say about Green in my EDGE prospect preview:

Another guy that fits the mold of an “Adrian Clayborn” role, Rasheem Green has prototypical size (6’5, 280) and pretty impressive athleticism to go along with it. He’s got all the tools to be a high-level starter in the NFL, but he’s raw in his technique and there are concerns about his ability to hold up against the run. Green will likely demand a Day 2 pick, but he’s got tantalizing potential—and Atlanta’s coaching staff might be the ideal group to help him unlock it.

Round 3, Pick 90: CB Duke Dawson, Florida

With WR already taken care of and no DTs or EDGEs I loved available at this pick, the Falcons again go in a creative direction. Duke Dawson is one of the best nickel corners in the draft, and the Florida connection makes sense with Dan Quinn. It’s not a screaming need for the Falcons, but Dawson is an upgrade over Poole in most aspects of his game. Here’s what I had to say about Dawson in my DB prospect preview:

Another CB that has a similar game to Brian Poole, Duke Dawson has similar size (5’10, 208) as well and played at Florida. That being said, Dawson seems like a better player in coverage than Poole—he’s not zone-limited, and actually excelled in man coverage. Dawson possesses a physical style of play that was simply too much to handle for lighter slot WRs. He’s technically sound and could contribute early in his career, but he’s just an average athlete. As an early Day 3 selection, Dawson would be a quality addition to the CB rotation.

Round 4, Pick 126: DT B.J. Hill, NC State

Perhaps the player I see mocked most often to the Falcons by fans, B.J. Hill finally makes his way to Atlanta in one of my mocks. Hill has great size and athleticism, but his strength at the point of attack and relatively lackluster production concern me. Quinn and Dimitroff are clearly very intrigued by Hill, and I think he’s actually a good value early on Day 3. Here’s what I had to say about Hill in my DT prospect preview:

A player that has already gotten some buzz from Falcons fans, B.J. Hill is an athletic DT prospect with a good frame (6’4, 315) and solid instincts for the position. His primary issue is his lack of strength, which will need to be further developed if Hill wants to do more than contribute on passing downs. After a year or so in an NFL conditioning program, Hill could be a valued member of an NFL rotation with starter potential. His draft stock is currently in the early Day 3 range.

Round 6, Pick 200: LB Christian Sam, Arizona State

With Kemal Ishmael returning to the Falcons, the LB depth is in better shape than it first appeared. Still, it seems likely that Atlanta will look to add another young player to the mix, and a pretty good one is still available in Round 6. Christian Sam possesses good size (6’2, 237) to go along with solid athleticism, physicality, and instincts.

Sam actually plays very well in coverage for a LB, and his well-rounded skillset makes him an ideal reserve player that can back-up WLB, MLB, and SLB in a pinch. He’s never going to “wow” you with splash plays, but Sam is a good LB that could have eventual starting potential down the road. This late in the draft, that type of player is a fantastic value, and Sam could be capable, affordable depth for many years.

Round 7, Pick 244: TE Chris Herndon, Miami

With the Falcons adding Logan Paulsen in free agency, TE is no longer a primary need in Atlanta. However, there is still room to add another developmental option to the depth chart—particularly if the rumblings about Steve Sarkisian moving to more 2TE sets are true, which could lead to the team once again keeping 4 TEs on the roster. Chris Herndon is an interesting player with a lot of potential as a dual threat TE, but a lot of question marks as well. Here’s what I wrote about Herndon in my TE prospect preview:

A mid-round option that has intriguing potential as a dual-threat TE, Chris Herndon has solid size (6’4, 245) and impressive athletic ability. He’ll need to continue building strength and he’s very raw as a blocker, but Herndon can do a lot in the receiving game and has the versatility to do a lot of things well. There could be potential for Herndon as an H-back, too—but he’ll likely need a season of development before seeing the field in the NFL.

Round 7, Pick 256: FB Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma

The Falcons still haven’t signed a fullback this offseason. Unless they’re planning to move on from the position entirely—which would be strange—it seems like the team is targeting someone in the draft or as an undrafted free agent. With the very last pick in the draft, it simply makes too much sense for the team to secure their favorite pick at FB—and if Oklahoma’s Dimitri Flowers is still available, this is a no-brainer. Here’s what I had to say about Flowers in my RB & FB prospect preview:

For those that don’t mind spending a mid-round pick on a FB, you won’t find a better prospect than Dimitri Flowers. The 6’2, 245 lead blocker from Oklahoma is fantastic at clearing out running lanes and has the ability to be a competent RB in his own right. He’s a smooth pass catcher and a solid athlete that looks like a Pro Bowl-caliber FB option that can also take carries in a pinch.

As you can see, passing on DT in the first round creates an interesting scenario for the Falcons. I’m not sure I like the way things play out quite as well as I would if Atlanta were to walk away with someone like Da’Ron Payne or Maurice Hurst, but this draft wouldn’t be a trainwreck by any means.

The Falcons get arguably the best WR in the draft to pair with Julio and Sanu, and could potentially have the flexibility to move on from Sanu’s contract in 2019. They also get two high-potential defensive linemen who may not be immediate starters, but could develop into steals down the line. Atlanta nets one of the best nickel CBs in the draft, a versatile reserve LB, a developmental dual-threat option at TE, and a potential Pro Bowl-caliber FB to round out their draft class.

The biggest difference between drafting a DT in the first and passing seems to be that Atlanta will likely lose an immediate starter at the position. It’s certainly possible that players like Rasheem Green and B.J. Hill acclimate quickly to Atlanta’s defense, but it’s equally likely that they take a season or two to really begin contributing at a high level. Is it worth that trade-off to get a very good WR? I don’t think so, but maybe some people do.

What would you think if the Falcons pulled off this draft? Who are some other players you’d consider at each pick? Any favorite prospects you’d love to see Atlanta pursue? Share your own mocks in the comments below!