A fresh 2020 mock draft for the Atlanta Falcons that adds significant talent on both sides of the ball.
A very disappointing 2019 season has the Atlanta Falcons in need of stockpiling talent on both sides of the ball. Both units, offense and defense, has had their fair share of ineffective play. There is no need to mince words here. The Falcons need an injection of talent to their roster if they want to find themselves back in the playoffs next season.
A few questions will have to answered well into the offseason, especially what happens to the coaching staff and the front office. For now, we will focus on the roster and who the Falcons may look to add.
Round 1, 5th Overall - Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
No, this is not the dynamic pass rusher from the Big Ten that majority of the Falcons fan base is clamoring for. However, that does not mean that Brown cannot be a terrific value at the fifth overall pick.
Brown was my choice on my first edition of the mock draft for the Falcons at this same spot and after watching him over the conclusion of the regular season for Auburn, I’m still on board. Brown is a wrecking ball at 320 pounds and the comparisons to Fletcher Cox of the Eagles are quite accurate. Posting 22.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks the past two seasons show that he is capable of being more than just an anchor that is difficult to move. But his short area quickness and athleticism is rarely seen and that allows him to make plays in the opposing backfield consistently.
Yes, I am well aware that the Falcons will be in dire need of pass rushing help after the season. But I am also aware that they need an injection of talent across the entire line itself. So placing an elite interior disruptor next to their other elite interior disruptor will allow the Falcons to collapse the pocket even more in the face of quarterbacks, leading to an easier time for edge rushers and causing a lot more panicked throws.
Round 2, 37th Overall: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
Another repeat appearance on this mock draft for a workhorse of a pass rusher in Weaver. Consistency and production should never be a question for Weaver.
The 6’5” defensive end has three seasons as a starter under his belt. In those three seasons, Weaver has totaled 123 tackles, 46 tackles for loss, and 34 sacks. Of those 34 sacks, he reached a career-high during this season with 13.5.
Numbers aside, Weaver is a big defensive end at close to 270 pounds and comes equipped with violent hands and versatility, given that he can line up at every spot on the defensive line just about and be productive. I absolutely love how Weaver showcases a pass rushing plan when it comes to getting after the quarterback, as he always knows how he wants to attack the opposing lineman and cause disruption.
With Adrian Clayborn, Vic Beasley, Tyeler Davison, and others potentially walking this offseason, adding Brown and Weaver would be a coup.
Round 2, 63rd Overall: Jake Hanson, C/G, Oregon
Once again, I stick to the same routine as I did in my first mock draft. At the same placement late in the second round, I forecast the Falcons to grab what may be the future at center for the Falcons. Veteran Alex Mack has given the Falcons a number of solid, reliable seasons. But at 34, Mack is looking at being a $10.5 million dollar cap hit in 2020 and releasing him will only cost the Falcons $2.5 million in dead cap. I will allow you to apply your own logic there.
Hanson is about as polished as they come with 47 career starts for the Ducks. A refined technician, Hanson has the fundamentals that are needed to be a starting center in the NFL for years to come. Hanson has enough length to anchor and reset against opposing lineman who chose to attack his chest with power moves. Of course, communication is key for a center as they direct line movements and calculating defensive formations. Hanson is solid in that aspect as well. Hanson may not be a headline selection late in the second round but he does provide a sure-fire starter for what is likely to be a hole for the Falcons in the offseason.
Round 3, 69th Overall: Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
Surprise, surprise. The focus here still remains with upgrading the trenches for Atlanta. As you already know, the Falcons have been very disappointing in the pass rushing department. As of this writing, the Falcons are 30th in the NFL in total sacks. Upgrades are greatly needed.
Taylor is an athletic edge rusher that showcases the ability to rush the passer with more than just speed. The Volunteers have utilized his athleticism in a number of ways as he is seen at times lining up against slot receivers and covering the flats in pass coverage. Whether the Falcons deploy Taylor in that manner remains to be seen but he has “pass rushing specialist” written all over him.
Round 4, 101st Overall: Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia
Yes, it is no secret that I am looking to upgrade the front seven for the Falcons. While plenty of attention was given to the defensive line, here is a prospect in the middle rounds that can improve the linebacker corps for the Falcons, if given proper time. Snowden is a 6’7 defender with length for days.
Virginia inserted Snowden at several spots over the defense and he did more than hold his own. The selection of Snowden may give the Falcons some wiggle room in case they choose to depart from veteran De’Vondre Campbell this offseason. Snowden is slightly more athletic and if he is able to polish his ability to rush on occasion, Snowden can be a Swiss Army knife for the Falcons front seven.
Round 5, 133rd Overall: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
One of my favorite prospects in the entire draft, Hill brings a unique skill set to the equation. Hill is a solid 215 pounds with a muscular frame that is able to absorb tackles with his physical running style. Hill posted an outstanding 2019 season for the Bulldogs with 1,347 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns although it went largely unknown due to playing in an elite conference.
It is not a guarantee that starting running back Devonta Freeman returns in 2020 and if he does, it is not a guarantee that he is in the team’s long-term plans due to his injury history and average play as of late. Going forward, the Falcons will probably need to establish their identity more as a run-oriented team. If the team moves on from Freeman, a stable of Hill, Brian Hill, Ito Smith, and Qadree Ollison can be a young, effective grouping of ball carriers that can possibly stabilize what has been a deficiency for Atlanta this season.
Round 7, 202nd Overall: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
The Falcons was forced to endure the loss of their hard-hitting strong safety in Keanu Neal due to a season-ending Achilles injury. Back-to-back season ending injuries for Neal has the team partially worried about his future and his effectiveness.
Outside of Neal, there has been a revolving door at the position this season. To solidify things, selecting a physical safety such as Dugger provides a bit of insurance and stability. Dugger was used EVERYWHERE at Lenoir-Rhyne. From safety to cornerback to linebacker to even running back. That type of versatility would be gladly welcomed in the Falcons locker room.