With the 2019 NFL season officially over, mock drafts are starting to come in hot and heavy from news sites across the internet. Most seem to have the Falcons taking a defensive tackle with their first round pick—a desire that is shared by many in the fanbase. A few have given the Falcons OT or EDGE help, which are also two of Atlanta’s biggest needs. Lately, however, we’ve been seeing a new hot pick for the Falcons: LSU CB Greedy Williams.
Williams is one of the top CB prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the thought seems to be that he’s simply too good of a value for Atlanta to pass up. That’s the justification given by SB Nation’s own Dan Kadar in his most recent two-round mock. To be completely fair to Dan, he does address the glaring need on the defensive line in round two with the addition of DT Dexter Lawrence—however, that doesn’t excuse what I believe to be faulty reasoning in mocking a CB to the Falcons in the first round.
So let’s get right to it and address this thing directly. There are quite a few compelling reasons why the Falcons will not draft a CB in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
There are significantly more important needs
The first and most obvious reason that the Falcons will pass on a CB at pick 14 is the simple truth that the team has glaring needs on both the offensive and defensive lines. RT was an absolute trainwreck for Atlanta in 2018, and getting a new starter there absolutely must happen if we’re going to see any offensive improvement in 2019. The defensive line is also in a state of flux, with Vic Beasley’s future uncertain and the need for impact players at both EDGE and DT.
Assuming the Falcons don’t find their RT in free agency—which is pretty likely, seeing as there aren’t many good options there—that player has to come in the first or second round. In a situation like the one presented in Dan’s mock draft, the Falcons would not have addressed RT before the third round. Depending on a third rounder—or even later—to start NFL games at a position like offensive tackle is a recipe for complete disaster.
CB isn’t even close to a top need for the Falcons. Which brings me to my next point...
The Falcons already drafted Alford’s replacement
You might be thinking that the Falcons have a void to fill on the outside if Alford gets cut—which seems like a certainty for financial and on-field reasons. You’d be right, but the player to fill that void is already on the roster—Isaiah Oliver, 2018’s second round pick.
Oliver struggled early in his rookie season, just like most young CBs, but really started to come on towards the end of the year. He’s very talented and has elite length—I had a first round grade on him—and he has the potential to become a shutdown CB on the outside, particularly against some of the bigger WRs in the NFL. Oliver will be counted on to start in 2019 if the team parts ways with Alford, and I think he’ll acquit himself nicely in a larger role.
So, with Atlanta’s two outside starters locked up in Desmond Trufant—whose deal makes him part of the Falcons future for at least the next several seasons—and Isaiah Oliver, where does CB Greedy Williams play? His size and length make him an ideal outside CB, while his poor run support and tackling would make him a liability in the slot. If the Falcons draft Williams with that 14th pick—over potential starters like OT Dalton Risner and DT Christian Wilkins—where exactly is he going to play?
Neither Oliver or Trufant are fits to play the slot—which is where the Falcons actually need to invest a pick, probably early on Day 3 or in free agency. So, would Greedy push one of them to the bench? Is Atlanta really going to take a player in the first round so they can bench either their 2018 second rounder or someone they’re paying $10M+? The answer is no.
This is a weak CB class, and Greedy Williams is overrated
This CB class is widely viewed by analysts as being pretty weak at the top. For instance, Isaiah Oliver would probably be CB2 or CB3 this year, depending on your rankings. In a weak class, players that shouldn’t be considered so highly wind up getting pushed up the board. This happens with QBs all the time—and the results for teams that fall for it are usually not great.
Let’s just get right to it: Greedy Williams is overrated, and has been all offseason. I get the hype because of his size and ceiling—the splash plays are there, and the upside of a Patrick Peterson type could be in reach. But Greedy is not physical at all and routinely shies away from contact. Does that sound like a fit in Dan Quinn’s defense? It’s not.
I think analysts got used to mocking and seeing Greedy mocked in the top-10 or even top-5, which has always been ludicrous. Now that his stock has faltered, the belief is that he’s “good value” at pick 14. That’s simply not true—Greedy’s stock is probably more realistically in the top-20, and it’s simply correcting itself as more people finish their scouting evaluations.
If the Falcons were to take a CB in Round 1—which they still shouldn’t do, mind you—Washington’s Byron Murphy makes a lot more sense. Murphy is much more versatile and consistent, and could wind up being either an outside or slot CB. I think his best fit really could be on the inside, where he might have Chris Harris-like upside. That could fill a pretty significant need with Brian Poole’s future uncertain and give Atlanta a potentially dominant trio of CBs for years to come.
There are an abundance of reasons why the Falcons won’t be drafting a CB at pick 14—particularly Greedy Williams. Even if their top targets—players like Ed Oliver and Cody Ford—are gone, the better value is still with players like Dalton Risner and Christian Wilkins. Both fill huge needs and both are still “premium” positions. Heck, I’d even say the need at LB is bigger than CB, and I think Quinn would prefer someone like Devin White over Greedy Williams.
If you say “well what about BPA and value?”, then I’d reply that “blind BPA drafting is a farce” and that “draft value is completely subjective and made up”. But that’s a topic for another article.
What say you, Falcons faithful? Do you see CB as a legitimate, first round option? Or do you think that Atlanta’s other needs and/or current roster construction pretty much take it out of consideration?