Another week, another 2019 mock draft for the Falcons. Atlanta is picking 14th overall, which should give them some interesting choices between the top EDGE, DT, and OT prospects in the draft. I’ve also tweeted about some potential dark horse candidates if the Falcons’ top choices are gone, like LB Devin White. No matter what happens at the top of the draft, Atlanta will have their choice of many good players to add to their already stacked roster.
For this mock draft, I used Fanspeak’s On the Clock mock draft simulator. If you’d like to recreate the conditions of this mock, use the following settings: Fanspeak big board, User-Voted team needs, Difficult setting. As an aside, I don’t really like any of the big boards that are up there right now. Fanspeak’s is pretty inaccurate overall, in my opinion. Thus, if a player I knew wouldn’t be there was still available when the Falcons picked, I skipped over them in an effort to make this mock at least somewhat realistic.
Anyway, on to the mock draft!
Round 1, Pick 14: EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
We still don’t know what the Falcons are going to do in free agency—I expect them to strongly pursue a free agent EDGE like Brandon Graham or Allen Bailey—but it doesn’t matter. Atlanta needs an injection of talent at EDGE that can’t be filled with just one signing. Enter Jachai Polite from Florida, who is perhaps the most likely of the bunch of second-tier (aka not Nick Bosa) edge rushers to still be around when the Falcons pick at 14.
Polite doesn’t possess the biggest frame at 6’2, 240, but he more than makes up for it with fantastic athleticism and a nasty, physical disposition. He’s far more developed technically than Vic Beasley ever was, and despite Polite’s smaller frame he’s more than capable of holding his own against the run. His hand usage and ability to knife into the backfield translated into more plays against the run than you might think (19.5 TFL in 2018), and he has the upside of a double-digit sack player at the NFL level.
Round 2, Pick 45: OT David Edwards, Wisconsin
This is a good draft to need an OT—particularly a right tackle. If David Edwards from Wisconsin is still available at the Falcons second pick, they should sprint to the podium—though I wouldn’t be shocked if we see the Falcons trade up a few spots to the early second if Edwards or another target is there. Edwards certainly looks the part at 6’7, 319 and possesses excellent athletic ability from his history of playing TE.
Those looking for the Falcons to upgrade their run blocking will love Edwards’ nastiness in that area. He’s a mauler on the ground and he’s athletic enough to excel in the zone blocking scheme. Edwards has only recently transitioned to OT from TE, so his technique still needs a lot of refinement, but you simply can’t teach his physical tools. Honestly, I might even consider Edwards at 14 if the Falcons’ top targets are gone.
Round 3, Pick 79: G Garrett Brumfield, LSU
The offensive line makeover continues by adding G Garrett Brumfield from LSU. Brumfield could fall due to his size—he’s listed at only 6’2, 299—but you’d be wrong if you thought that meant he couldn’t hold his own against power. It’s true that Brumfield is a much better fit in a zone blocking scheme, but he’s got plenty of strength to go along with his borderline-elite athletic traits for an interior offensive lineman.
Again, those who want the Falcons to get nastier in the trenches will love Brumfield’s aggressive demeanor. He needs to clean up some technique deficiencies, but Brumfield would be an instant upgrade at either guard spot.
Round 4, Pick 117: DT Demarcus Christmas, FSU
That’s right, folks: four straight picks to bolster the trenches. This one bolsters the defensive interior with a big run-stuffing NT in Demarcus Christmas from FSU. The 6’4, 310 defensive tackle possesses excellent strength and excels as a plug in the middle of the defensive line. While Christmas projects mostly as a base down player, he’s got some athletic ability and could continue to develop his game with more refined hand usage. Christmas would go a long way in helping to keep the Falcons’ LBs clean in the run game.
Round 4, Pick 138: CB Mark Gilbert, Duke
The first non-trench pick of the draft goes to the secondary. I’ve been zeroing in on Duke CB Mark Gilbert for awhile as a potential pick to play the slot long-term, but Gilbert is versatile enough to play on the outside as well. At 6’1, 175, he’s tall enough to cover outside WRs but he’s a little too light to match up with more physical opponents. Gilbert’s technique in both man and zone coverage are outstanding, and he’s got a great nose for the football.
Despite his small stature, Gilbert is a technical tackler—which offsets some of his strength issues. Gilbert’s athletic testing will determine his draft stock: if he tests well, he’ll probably go late on Day 2. If he tests merely average—which is what I’d expect from my early viewing—then he’ll likely be available early on Day 3.
Round 5, Pick 153: LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
I honestly can’t figure out why LB Joe Giles-Harris isn’t getting more hype. He’s got great size at 6’2, 240 and looks the part of a 3-down LB in the NFL with technically refined tackling and exceptional coverage ability. While Giles-Harris isn’t an elite athlete in the realm of Deion Jones, he’s still plenty quick enough to fly around the field and make stops. His weaknesses are similar to Jones’: Giles-Harris is never going to be an elite LB at stacking-and-shedding blocks. Still, the Falcons scheme should minimize the need for that, and Giles-Harris could eventually form a very good duo with Deion Jones, particularly on third down.
Round 5, Pick 173: TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia
This pick could depend on the Falcons’ decision with Logan Paulsen, but either way they’d be silly not to add a TE from this absolutely stacked class. Georgia’s Isaac Nauta looks the part of a TE2—he’s a very good blocker with great size and upside as a receiver. He’s not an elite athlete in the realm of Eric Saubert, but he’s plenty fast enough to get open against LBs in the middle of the field. I love his aggressive demeanor both as a blocker and receiver as well. In a class with so many good TEs, some are bound to fall—and the Falcons could certainly benefit from adding a quality dual-threat TE like Nauta to the roster.
Round 6, Pick 188: WR Jakobi Meyers, NC State
Look for this to be a common pick in these mocks. Jakobi Meyers just makes too much sense for the Falcons, as he’s a WR that can do a lot of the same things Mohamed Sanu can do. Here’s what I wrote about Meyers in my last mock draft:
The Falcons aren’t going to move on from WR Mohamed Sanu this offseason, but they would be wise to invest some draft capital into his replacement in a draft where they have two compensatory picks. WR Jakobi Meyers is a QB-convert that has put up impressive production at NC State. While Meyers has to continue to learn the finer points of the position, he’s got all the traits you desire from a WR3-type player. He’s got the size—6’2, 203—the ball skills, and the competitive fire you want to see. Meyers also showed off quality blocking chops, which the Falcons require from their WRs. His overall athletic ability is merely average, but his frame and jump ball ability make him an excellent “move-the-chains” receiver.
Round 7, Pick 232: C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
I haven’t watched much of Gaillard outside of live viewing, but the Falcons were rumored to have talked with him quite a bit at the East-West Shrine Game. Gaillard is a bit on the small side at 6’2, 308, but he’s got a lot of experience and would be a natural fit in a zone blocking scheme. Athletically and technically Gaillard still has a lot of development to do, but the Falcons have time to work with him. He could begin his career as a backup behind Alex Mack and potentially take over in a few seasons.
With nine total draft picks, the Falcons spend their first four to solidify the trenches on both sides of the ball. Polite adds a dynamic pass rushing presence across from Takk McKinley, while Edwards should develop into a high-level starter at RT for years to come. Brumfield should be an instant upgrade at either guard spot, allowing the Falcons to let Brandon Fusco and Wes Schweitzer compete for the remaining spot. Christmas provides a strong, run-stuffing presence on the interior to help bolster the defensive line on early downs.
The Falcons focus on filling out the depth chart with young talent on Day 3. Gilbert should provide an upgrade on Brian Poole and could potentially be a long-term starter in the slot. Giles-Harris provides tremendous value and could develop into a starting-caliber 3-down LB across from Deion Jones. Isaac Nauta and Jakobi Meyers provide Atlanta with some quality depth players in the receiving corps that can grow into bigger roles in the future. Finally, the Falcons finish off the class with a developmental C in Gaillard who can learn behind one of the best in Alex Mack.
What are your thoughts on this draft class for the Falcons? Who are some of your favorite targets throughout the draft? Any players in particular you’d love to see the Falcons get in 2019?