The season is over, and that means the official draft order for the 2019 NFL Draft is set for all 32 teams. That doesn’t affect the Falcons, but it does signal the official beginning of #DraftSzn for all fanbases. It’s something to celebrate, even if the actual Super Bowl was a huge bust.
With the draft order finalized, it’s time to release my next mock draft into the wild. If you’d like to check out my previous mocks, you can find them here:
To simulate this mock draft, I used Fanspeak’s On the Clock mock draft simulator. If you’d like to replicate the conditions of this mock, use the following settings: Fanspeak (Steve) big board, User-Voted team needs, Difficult setting.
Off we go!
Round 1, Pick 14: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
At this spot in the draft, the Falcons are clearly hoping to benefit from someone falling to them. Luckily for Atlanta, the depth of this class is at OT, EDGE, and DT—a good value at one of those three positions is going to be there at pick 14. In this mock, DT Ed Oliver, EDGE Brian Burns, and OT Jonah Williams were all off the board, leaving me with a choice between OTs Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor. It’s a tough call, but I’m giving the slight edge to Taylor here.
At 6’5, 334, Taylor is a mountain of a man. He’s surprisingly nimble for a man of that size too, with plenty of mobility for the Falcons’ zone blocking scheme. Taylor is the complete package—a stalwart in pass protection and a mauler in the running game. Plus, he’s a far better RT—his natural position—than LT, which could allow him to slide a bit further than he should. I think Taylor is the most pro-ready OT after Williams, and he’d be able to come in and start at RT from day one for the Falcons. Dimitroff has said protecting Matt Ryan is the biggest priority this offseason, and adding a top-tier RT is the best way to do that.
Round 2, Pick 45: EDGE Charles Omenihu, Texas
With Vic Beasley likely being cut this offseason and Brooks Reed already gone, the Falcons have a glaring need at EDGE opposite Takk. I fully expect Atlanta to sign the best FA available to them, but that’s not going to be enough on its own. Ever since Adrian Clayborn left, the Falcons have missed that big, inside/outside EDGE that Quinn loves in his defense. Enter Charles Omenihu from Texas, who might be the perfect player to fill that void.
Omenihu is physically imposing at 6’6, 275, and was a bit of a late bloomer at Texas. He exploded in 2018 with 18 TFLs and 9.5 sacks, and I’d expect his stock to continue to rise over the offseason. Omenihu is ridiculously quick and flexible for a player of his size, and has demonstrated the ability to win at just about any spot on the defensive line. Technique wise, Omenihu still has plenty of room for refinement, but you can’t teach his ferocity and natural athletic gifts. Expect to see him connected more with the Falcons as we approach the draft—and don’t be surprised if he’s someone Atlanta targets with a trade-up in the early second.
Round 3, Pick 79: C/G Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
With RT addressed in the first round, the Falcons still need to upgrade their guard spots—and getting a player that might be able to take over for Alex Mack in a few years would be a bonus. That’s why a prospect like Texas A&M C Erik McCoy makes a lot of sense.
Coupling a sizable 6’3, 310 frame with excellent athletic ability, McCoy is a natural fit for the Falcons’ zone blocking scheme. He’s also got plenty of power to match those movement skills, making him a dynamic run blocker that is just as dangerous with his power. McCoy’s strength makes him difficult to move in pass protection, although his technique in that area still needs refinement. A logjam of quality interior OL in the Day 2 range could lead to someone like McCoy falling into the mid-3rd, which would be excellent value and fill a significant need for the Falcons.
Round 4, Pick 117: DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
Falcons fans, I’ve heard you. You want a big, run-stuffing NT to help out Atlanta’s struggling run defense. Instead of drafting that player on Day 2—sorry, Dexter Lawrence fans—I’m going to go after one with the Falcons’ first pick on Day 3. I have a feeling you’re going to like my choice, though: Texas A&M’s Daylon Mack.
At 6’0, 320, Mack has plenty of bulk to take up space in the center of the DL. What makes Mack stand out, however, is his incredible burst and movement skills for a player of his weight. He is explosive at 320 pounds, and it’s really a sight to see. Technically, Mack is still pretty raw, but he’s made significant strides over the past season. Mack is probably best suited to an early-down run stuffing role—he’s very limited as a pass rusher—but his athletic traits make him a perfect fit at NT in a one-gap scheme like Dan Quinn’s.
Round 4, Pick 138: RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Now, in the middle of Day 3, come the “standby” picks. I’ll continue saying it as long as Justice Hill’s value remains in this range: he’s a perfect fit as the RB3 in Atlanta. I know fans are clamoring for a physical, short-yardage back—but the team already has that in Brian Hill. What they don’t have anymore is a dynamic receiving threat and competent pass blocker, and that’s where Hill comes in. Here’s what I wrote about Hill in a previous mock draft.
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: LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
Another one of my favorite picks for the Falcons. LB Joe Giles-Harris from Duke is criminally underrated at this point, and I greedily hope that continues so that Atlanta can benefit. If you want the team to move on from Duke Riley, Giles-Harris is your guy. Here’s what I wrote about Giles-Harris in a previous mock:
Giles-Harris has 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: WR Jakobi Meyers, NC State
This pick just makes too much sense for the Falcons, although NC State WR Jakobi Meyers’ stock has continued to rise after an impressive Senior Bowl performance. I don’t believe Atlanta ends up cutting Mohamed Sanu this offseason, but they’ll need his replacement in 2020. Instead of waiting until the need becomes urgent, the Falcons draft him now. Here’s what I had to say about Meyers in a previous mock:
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 6, Pick 188: CB Jimmy Moreland, James Madison
Here’s a player you haven’t seen mocked to the Falcons before, and that’s because I only just heard about him at the Senior Bowl. Make no mistake, however: Moreland is a quality CB prospect, and his stock should continue to rise as more and more analysts get a glimpse of his game.
At 5’11, 175, Moreland clearly isn’t going to be an outside guy in the NFL. But the Falcons don’t need another outside CB—they need someone who can upgrade Brian Poole in the slot. I think Moreland has excellent potential as a nickel CB. He’s got tremendous ball skills and a nasty physicality to him, despite his lack of ideal size and length. Moreland’s coverage technique is solid and he’s got plenty of athletic ability to boot. He’s a CB that fits what Dan Quinn wants from a mentality perspective, and could be a steal this late in the draft.
Round 7, Pick 232: LB Kendall Joseph, Clemson
The Falcons can really go in any direction with this final pick. They could add more depth across the roster, whether that’s in the trenches, in the secondary, or at a skill position. In this case, I think the best value might be at LB—a position where the Falcons have some talent, but could always upgrade the bottom of the depth chart. Looking ahead to the cap situation in 2020, it also seems more and more likely that De’Vondre Campbell won’t be re-signed.
Clemson LB Kendall Joseph could be an ideal fourth or fifth LB for the Falcons. At 6’0, 225, he’s simply too small to be a fit for many NFL schemes—which might mean that he’s still around this late in drafts. Joseph has great athleticism and very good coverage skills to go along with consistent tackling ability. Where he struggles is if he’s asked to come downhill and take on blocks, which is never going to be his strength. As a rotational LB and special teams player, Joseph would be an excellent 7th round selection that could provide valuable depth in Atlanta.
In this mock draft, the Falcons focus on fixing the major issues on the offensive line while bolstering the defensive line with quality contributors. OT Jawaan Taylor is pro-ready and should provide an immediate upgrade over Ryan Schraeder, even if he struggles somewhat as a rookie. C/G Erik McCoy is one of the best interior OL in the draft and should start over Wes Schweitzer at LG, while potentially being a long-term replacement for Alex Mack at center in a few years.
EDGE Charles Omenihu brings the Falcons the “Adrian Clayborn” player they’ve lacked since his departure, and should immediately bolster an EDGE group that has been almost completely gutted this offseason. DT Daylon Mack is the run-stuffing 1T that Falcons fans have been clamoring for, and his athletic traits make him an ideal fit in Quinn’s defense.
Then we get to the depth picks, which are based on value and need. RB Justice Hill is a great third-down specialist and pass protector that should allow Atlanta to move on from Tevin Coleman without too much issue. LB Joe Giles-Harris has 3-down starting upside in a scheme like Quinn’s and should see the field early in his career. WR Jakobi Meyers will give the Falcons another weapon in the passing game, and will make it easier move on from Sanu in 2020. CB Jimmy Moreland has tremendous upside in the slot and his mentality fits perfectly in the Falcons’ defense. LB Kendall Joseph is small, but he’s great in coverage and is a technically refined tackler—he’ll be an early contributor on special teams and a quality rotational piece.
We won’t know the true stock of many of these players until after the NFL Combine in a few weeks, but this would be a very strong haul for Atlanta that addresses their biggest needs. What are your thoughts on this potential draft class, Falcons fans?