The NFL draft is going to be here sooner than you know it, and the league has unveiled the list of players set to attend this year’s draft ceremonies. It feels a bit smaller than usual.
Here’s the list (via NFL.com). Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville, Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming, Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State, Taven Bryan, DT, Florida, Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State, Sam Darnold, QB, USC, Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA, Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech, Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama, Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama, Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida, Derrius Guice, RB, LSU, Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa, Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Derwin James, S, Florida State, Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA, Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA, Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia, Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State, Vita Vea, DT, Washington, Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State and Connor Williams, OT, Texas.
More could be added to this list as time goes on.
Now, there’s no way to connect this as a definite trend, as plenty of great players have opted to watch from elsewhere in the past, but let’s have some fun and say this pattern continues, and the Falcons continue to take from the guys in this group.
The most popular Falcons draft target, DT Taven Bryan, is listed, and again, of all the players in this class, he tends to make the most sense for Atlanta and what they like. He’s got all the intangibles of a Dan Quinn prospect, he’s an athletic freak and has a good motor. His football IQ and rawness are sincere knocks on his game, and if he’s taken, it’s unlikely he’s a day one impact guy. But, you don’t take a player like Bryan to play to his potential right away. You draft and develop him for more down the road. The Falcons reportedly like Bryan, and he’d make a boatload of sense for Pick 26.
DT Vita Vea is the only other defensive tackle listed, with guys like Da’Ron Payne and Maurice Hurst likely spending time at home for the big day.
LBs Rashaan Evans and LB Leighton Vander Esch met with the Falcons for official visits this week, making linebacker an absolute possibility for the first pick as well.
It’d be great for Atlanta to be the organization to give LB Shaquem Griffin a hat and jersey, but no interest has been reported as of yet. Our Kevin Knight is a big fan of his, and you can read his scouting report on the UCF prospect here. That’ll be a great draft moment, regardless of where he’s picked.
So, if this trend continues (and, again, that’s not really a sure bet), the next Falcon could be one of Taven Bryan, Vita Vea, Rashaan Evans or Leighton Vander Esch. Interesting stuff.
We’ve still got a few weeks to go before we can put this conversation to rest, so let’s open it up while we’re here. Who are you interested in seeing taken with the team’s top pick?
I’m on the fence, to be honest. A defensive tackle like Bryan or Hurst sounds mighty fine, but taking Evans or Vander Esch would give Atlanta one of the strongest linebacking groups in the NFL. We don’t exactly know what Duke Riley’s going to be just yet, so I don’t want to stunt the development of a potentially-sound WLB, but can you imagine Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell and Evans flying around in the middle of the defense? That just feels right to me.
I think it’ll still be Bryan when it’s all said and done, but the LB visits are intriguing.
Onward we go to draft day, Falcoholics.