The season is officially over for the Falcons, and that means it’s mock draft season here at The Falcoholic. Atlanta ended up making me right when I said their floor was 7-9 (hooray?), which knocked their potential top-10 selection all the way down to 14. While that sucks, it’s still much higher than we expected the team to wind up this season—and in a class absolutely loaded with defensive line talent at the top, the Falcons have an excellent chance to come away with a top-tier player.
Let’s dive right in to this full 7-round mock draft. But first, some background: for this simulation, I used Fanspeak’s On the Clock mock draft simulator. To recreate the conditions of this mock, select the following: Fanspeak big board, User-Voted team needs, Difficult setting. Also, keep in mind that I’m very early in my scouting evaluations for 2019. Many of my observations on these players have come from live viewing and discussion with other amateur scouts, and are subject to change somewhat by the time the draft comes around. I also want to give a shoutout to The Draft Network, who have been an awesome and invaluable resource this year. If you’re into the draft, check them out immediately.
With all that in mind, let’s do this thing.
Round 1, Pick 14: EDGE Brian Burns, FSU
The Falcons may have squandered their chance at a top-10 pick, but they come away with one of the top edge rushers in the 2019 draft class anyway. Brian Burns from FSU has one negative trait: he’s light for an edge player, at only 232 pounds. He’s also 6’5, however, which should allow him to add 10-15 pounds to his frame without too much issue. Look past that initial flaw—and I know it’ll be hard for some of you, particularly with what went wrong with Vic Beasley—and you’ll see an elite pass rusher just waiting to be unleashed on the NFL.
Burns is far more polished than Beasley ever was, with a variety of pass rushing moves, well-developed counters, and a physical mean streak as a run defender. Will he ever be an elite run stopper? No, but you don’t draft run stuffing edge players high because they’re not all that hard to find in the NFL. Pass rushers are hard to find, and that’s why the Falcons select one of the best ones in the 2019 NFL Draft in Brian Burns.
Round 2, Pick 45: G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
If Lindstrom is still available at the Falcons’ second pick, they should sprint to the podium. He’s one of the top guard prospects in the 2019 class, and he’d be a plug-and-play starter for the Falcons at either guard spot. Lindstrom is a well-rounded prospect that is technically proficient and athletic enough to succeed in the zone blocking scheme. Plus, I’m sure Matt Ryan would appreciate the BC connection.
Round 3, Pick 79: T Kaleb McGary, Washington
Once you get into the third round, there aren’t any more slam-dunk picks. But Kaleb McGary from Washington is a very interesting OT prospect that could be a long-term solution for the Falcons at RT. McGary is big—6’6, 318—athletic, and strong. He’s got work to do with the finer points of his technique, particularly against speed on the outside, but McGary offers a lot of intangibles that you simply can’t teach. It would be a stretch to expect McGary to step in and play at a high level as a rookie, but his potential as a future bookend opposite Jake Matthews makes him a worthy third round selection.
Round 4, Pick 117: LB Devin Bush Jr., Michigan
If Devin Bush manages to last this long—and he might, due to concerns about his size at only 5’11, 225—the Falcons would be silly not to select him. He’s a prototypical fit for the Falcons scheme and would be an enormous upgrade over Duke Riley in the LB rotation. Bush is the same type of player as Deion Jones—he’s smart, smooth in space and coverage, and physical as a tackler. Just like Jones, Bush will struggle if asked to take on blocks. In the Falcons scheme, however, Bush could thrive as a third down LB and potential starter next to Jones.
Round 4, Pick 139: RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
With Tevin Coleman almost certainly headed elsewhere in 2019, the Falcons need to find his replacement. The best way to do that is to invest a Day 3 draft pick, and Atlanta manages to find great value in Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill. Hill certainly isn’t a physically imposing back at 5’10, 190, but he’s the third down specialist the Falcons have lacked since Jacquizz Rodgers left for Tampa Bay. He’s agile and smooth as a runner, showcasing excellent balance and footwork, and is a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Despite his frame, Hill is reliable as a pass protector and should immediately carve out a role there. He’s a perfect replacement for Coleman and should be an ideal complement to Freeman and Ito Smith.
Round 5, Pick 153: DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
In a class that’s absolutely stacked with defensive line talent, some quality players are going to fall through the cracks. DT Ricky Walker from Virginia Tech was one of those players in this mock draft, and the Falcons would be wise to pounce on him if he’s still available this late. Walker doesn’t possess any truly outstanding traits, but he’s a well-rounded playmaker that can contribute as both a pass rusher and run defender. As a rotational DT that can contribute in any situation, he’d be a perfect addition alongside Jarrett, Crawford, and Senat.
Round 5, Pick 173: WR Jakobi Meyers, NC State
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. Atlanta uses the second of those picks on WR Jakobi Meyers, 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. If he sounds a lot like Sanu to you, then you’re beginning to understand why Meyers is an ideal pick to take over for him in 2020 and beyond.
Round 6, Pick 188: CB Iman Marshall, USC
If the Falcons elect to move on from Robert Alford this offseason, the CB depth chart will be a little thin. With Brian Poole an RFA for one more season, the Falcons would be wise to find someone who can eventually take over the slot. Iman Marshall from USC is a player who could fit that bill. A 5-star recruit out of high school, Marshall is a very impressive athlete. While he doesn’t have elite long speed, his change-of-direction ability and closing speed are remarkable. His size is merely average—6’0, 205—and his tackling needs a lot of work, but Marshall has the makings of a very good slot CB in a year or two.
Round 7, Pick 232: S Tanner Muse, Clemson
With their final pick, the Falcons select S Tanner Muse from Clemson—a player who should come in and compete with Sharrod Neasman for the backup strong safety role. Muse actually played a fair amount of deep safety at Clemson, but his 6’2, 225 frame is better suited to a box safety role at the NFL level. Still, Muse has shown quality coverage ability and is a bargain pick this late in the draft. He’s a guy that can be a more complete backup behind Keanu Neal, and could even offer some flexibility as a third “big nickel” safety.
The Falcons walk away from the 2019 NFL Draft with a nine total picks, including three trench players in the first three rounds. I know that will make a lot of fans happy, and I also believe it’s genuinely the right move for the team. The final six picks go towards filling out the depth chart with young, quality players on both sides of the ball. Overall, the Falcons should walk into training camp with a younger and more talented roster than they had in 2018—which is pretty scary considering they had a fantastic roster prior to last season.
Obviously, this doesn’t include any free agent moves. Assuming they only added these draft picks and nothing else, the biggest concern would probably be right tackle. Schraeder was bad and while I believe Kaleb McGary will eventually become a quality RT, I’m not sure he’ll be good in his rookie season. Adding another veteran there, even if it’s just a stopgap option, might be the best move to make sure the offensive line isn’t the liability it was in 2018.
What are your thoughts on this mock draft class for the Falcons? Who are some of your favorite prospects in the 2019 class? Any mid-to-late round players that you have your eyes on?