The Atlanta Falcons are going to make a handful of picks in this upcoming draft class, some of whom will be day-one contributors, other who will take a little time to get going.
But, per the course, the team is going to be cagey with what they say or reveal about its thoughts leading up to draft night. But, generalizations can sometimes be, in and of themselves, revealing.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter caught up with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who offered some thoughts on what he sees in this upcoming class of draftees.
The most interesting thing he shared was about the upcoming class of defensive tackles, which seem to be the most likely pool of players the team will choose from when making their first-round selection.
“This is a unique group,” Quinn said. “There are a lot of big guys somewhere between 280 and 300 pounds that can really move. Having that kind of versatility, where a guy can penetrate and get up field, those are the things that I really look for at the position.”
We’ve mentioned these names a lot, but this could apply to any one of Vita Vea, Maurice Hurst, Da’Ron Payne, Taven Bryan and Harrison Phillips.
Quinn describes the type of DTs he sees, and this does sound familiar for some of the guys being mocked to Atlanta.
“When I keep going down the list and I keep going, there are a number of guys, that I said hey, this guy looks like he’s got a number of the traits, that he’s ready to help right now,” Quinn said.
“I’m not saying he’s not going to develop, but the skill set is there to say in our system this is how we see him playing. There were a number of guys that fit that bill.”
The team’s also been looking at offensive linemen, and Quinn thinks this upcoming group is better than the one that came before it.
“It’s a much improved offensive line group,” Quinn said. “I wish some of these guys had been in last year’s draft ... if some of these guys would have come out early, that would have been good.”
He calls those two groups, along with, curiously, the quarterbacks group, as ones that will look good down the road.
“When you look back at the 2018 draft, I think you’ll go back and say there were a number players at the line of scrimmage that played well,” Quinn said. “I think it’s going to be a good quarterback draft. I think those three spots, offensive line, defensive line and quarterback (will grade out well.)”
It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Falcons walk away with players from all three of those groups, and they’ve begun to do the homework on those groups, accordingly.
He also shared a thought on the inside linebackers.
“At inside linebacker, there have been some guys that have jumped out to me there,” Quinn said.
The team has been reported to be looking at Alabama LB Rashaan Evans and Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch, two first-round prospects. They also are reported to have eyes for Memphis LB Genard Avery, a later-round prospect, and have looked at others at the position. And, as Ledbetter noted, the team has chosen not to re-sign Sean Weatherspoon or LaRoy Reynolds, so they’ll at least need to find some depth in this class.
As an aside, D-Led quotes pass rush guru Chuck Smith as lauding Duke DT Mike Ramsay as a day-one starter. To any draft fans, perhaps that’s a guy that’s worth taking a gander at in your studies. Maybe Atlanta will heed the advice of their former rusher and give Ramsay a shot.
So, some interesting little thoughts here and there to get you through the weekend. This is all going ramp up in a big way as we approach the final three weeks before draft weekend, so get ready for the big push of draft news to come.
And, be sure to follow along with who Atlanta is meeting with here on Dave Choate’s Falcons 2018 draft prospect tracker.