The Falcons are at 1-7 heading into Week 10, and as promised, 7 losses denotes the official beginning of Draft Season. While it’s still incredibly early in the process, I thought it would be fun to go ahead and put out a mock draft for all of you draft-hungry fans out there.
Atlanta is currently slated to have the 5th overall pick—which is good. That is likely to change between now and draft day, as some of the teams ahead of them will win, and some of the teams behind them will lose. I do expect the Falcons to wind up around 3-13, which should keep them in the 3-6 range when it’s all said and done.
Without further adieu, please enjoy my first 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
Round 1, Pick 5: CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
In this scenario, the Jets took EDGE Chase Young at pick 3 right in front of the Falcons. Atlanta may very well consider sending one of their two second-rounders to New York in exchange for the opportunity to draft Young, but trades aren’t an option in this mock. Instead, the Falcons are forced to choose between taking a second-tier player at their biggest need, or the top player at a secondary need.
I went with getting arguably the BPA at this point in the draft in Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah. At 6’1, 195 and with excellent athletic traits, Okudah has all the makings of an elite shutdown corner in the NFL. There were concerns about his ball skills and instincts coming into this season, but he’s addressed those concerns with 3 INTs in 2019. While CB isn’t the biggest need for Atlanta, it’s an area that must be addressed either now or in 2021 (when the team is likely to move on from Desmond Trufant). Okudah would give the Falcons a huge injection of talent in the secondary, and some insurance should Isaiah Oliver fail to improve.
Round 2, Pick 37: EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
With the Falcons missing out on Chase Young and going after a top-5 CB, they must address EDGE with this pick. Luckily, there are likely to be a number of options available at this point in the draft. Eric already touched on Boise State’s Curtis Weaver, so I’ll go in a different direction: Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos.
Gross-Matos has the build you want from a top-tier EDGE defender: 6’5, 242 with plenty of room to add muscle. He’s also a special athlete with excellent burst off the line and agility in space. Gross-Matos lacks the incredible production of Weaver, but has a superior frame and much better bend. His pass rush plan and counter moves still need development, but Gross-Matos has all the traits to become an impact pass rusher at the NFL level.
Round 2, Pick 63: DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
I had planned to go after a C/G prospect here, but the value simply wasn’t great. Instead, the Falcons commit to the DL rebuild by selecting DT Marvin Wilson from Florida State. Wilson is the next in the line of super athletic nose tackles: at 6’5, 323 he’s got all the size to take on double teams, but with the athleticism of a 3T. Wilson is a dominant run defender who wins with power and exceptional mobility.
He’s a much better pass rusher than you’d think, too: Wilson had 5.0 sacks in only 9 games in 2019. His combination of size, power, and mobility is rare and could easily push him up draft boards even higher than this. Wilson has shown improvement this year in his technique and understanding of leverage, but he still has a lot of room to grow. He’d be a steal this late in the second round, and would give the Falcons another high-upside DL to play alongside Grady Jarrett and Takk McKinley.
Round 3, Pick 69: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
With the value not quite there at C/G, the Falcons go after a position which could be a bigger need in 2020 than we think. If Devonta Freeman is cut/traded this offseason and Brian Hill leaves in free agency, that leaves Atlanta with only Ito Smith (who has concussion concerns) and Qadree Ollison under contract at RB. The Falcons miss out on the top-3 big name RBs, but get an excellent consolation prize in Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard.
Hubbard has been the most productive RB in college football this season, with an absurd 1604 yards through just 9 games (at 6.8 YPC) to go along with 18 rushing TDs. At 6’1, 207, Hubbard has the build of a workhorse NFL RB, and his combination of agility, vision, and contact balance make him a fit in just about any scheme. Hubbard has quickness in spades but lacks top-end long speed, and hasn’t been very involved as a receiver in 2019 (although he has shown ability there with 22 catches in 2018). One of the big things to monitor is Hubbard’s pass blocking, as it was a weakness in 2018. If he can show improvement there, he’s got all the makings of a very good NFL starter.
Round 4, Pick 101: C/G Jake Hanson, Oregon
The Falcons finally get the C/G they need to develop behind Alex Mack in the form of Oregon’s Jake Hanson. While Hanson isn’t an elite starter by any means—what do you expect in the fourth round?—he is a quality player with decent mobility, strength, and a ton of experience as the captain of the offensive line.
Hanson has a large build for a center at 6’5, 307, which means he can easily transition to guard if needed. His hand technique is one of his biggest strengths, and he’s got enough mobility to be successful in a zone scheme. However, Hanson will struggle when asked to execute reach blocks and other second-level blocks. He’s solid, but not an overly impressive athlete overall. Still, as a potential developmental center and a long-term interior backup at worst, Hanson is a good value for the Falcons at this spot in the draft.
Round 5, Pick 133: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
The Falcons still have a number of needs to address with their final picks. Luckily, a good player has fallen right into their laps at the LB positon: Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks. At 6’1, 240, Brooks has good size for the position and is big enough to survive at both MIKE and WILL in the NFL. Brooks is a quality athlete with excellent physicality and tackling ability, and he’s not a liability in coverage either.
Brooks is having an strong senior season (87 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks in 8 games), but has had an up-and-down career. He was far less productive in 2017 with only 0.5 TFL and no sacks. He does seem to be on the right track, however, and has all the traits the Falcons normally look for in a LB. Even if the new DC changes schemes, Brooks seems like a good fit as a modern NFL LB.
Round 7, Pick 199: S K’Von Wallace, Clemson
There will be some questions surrounding Keanu Neal’s future with the Falcons this offseason. I doubt that the team elects to move on from him, as his fifth-year option is nowhere near as outlandish as Beasley’s and Neal has been a very good player when healthy. Still, it’s past time the Falcons added some depth in the draft at the safety position.
Clemson’s K’Von Wallace could be the perfect depth player for Atlanta’s secondary. At 5’11, 205, Wallace has a stout build. He’s got experience playing all over the secondary, including free safety, strong safety, and cornerback. Wallace is a smart player that has good ball skills and coverage ability to go along with enough physicality to make plays in the box. His weakness is that he isn’t exceptional in any one area—he’s more of a “jack-of-all-trades” type of player. Still, for a Falcons team that has been downright bad at SS in Neal’s absence, that type of player would be a significant upgrade.
What do you think of this extremely early attempt at picking a draft class for the Falcons? Who are some of your favorite prospects at this point in the season?