The draft season moves to another phase post-NFL Combine. Here is my fresh mock draft that shakes things up a little for the Falcons.
Now that the Combine is behind us, it is time to turn our attention to free agency and Pro Day workouts for prospects.
Well, with the way free agency will likely start for the Falcons, it may be best to just focus more the draft. The focal point for the team at this juncture is the well deserved contract extensions for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and wide receiver Julio Jones. The Combine did provide the Falcons an opportunity to find prospects to build their already talented roster. Also, I love mock drafts. It’s somewhat of a weird habit that I’d rather not break here in March. So let’s get started on the latest projection of the 2019 draft for the Falcons.
Round 1, 14th Overall - Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
With the way free agency has played itself out so far, the Falcons may encounter a stroke of luck and have one of the more prized pass rushers in the draft fall into their lap.
While I would love for Florida State’s Brian Burns to be available here, Sweat is not a bad option and provides the Falcons a pass rusher with an explosive first step (7.0 three-cone, 4.41 40-yard dash) and great NFL size at 6’6 and 260 pounds. His past two seasons in the SEC, Sweat recorded 30 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks. Sweat is just scratching the surface with his potential with an All-Pro ceiling.
Round 2, 45th Overall - Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Heavy attention will be placed on the defensive front in the draft and keeping that momentum going is the selection of Jones to line up on the interior and bring more pass rushing juice. His game is predicated on being an athletic, disruptive force at the 3-Technique and penetrating single gaps. His ability to anchor in run defense is what needs to improve the most but he is coming off a 2018 campaign where he posted 8.5 sacks and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Round 3, 79th Overall - Kaleb McGary, OT , Washington
The rumors have began to swirl that the Falcons may go the veteran route when it comes to upgrading the offensive line, in particular, the interior at guard. The team gave veteran Ty Sambrailo a contract extension this offseason and still currently possess veteran Ryan Schraeder, who I personally believe will be a post-June 1st release. But competition will still be needed as Sambrailo is not exactly a sure bet to be the starter. McGary can definitely provide plenty of competition at the right tackle, where he played during his entire career at Washington. McGary opened a few eyes at the Senior Bowl and had himself a solid Pro Day. If the Falcons don’t see their expectations being met by Sambrailo, McGary’s ability could be what the Falcons rely on.
Round 4, 117th Overall - Mecole Hardman Jr, WR/RS, Georgia
A Georgia player? For the Falcons? Some across the Bulldogs fan base have echoed their sentiments with the Falcons not targeting prospects out of Athens, Georgia. Luckily for them, there is a small need in the wide receiver grouping with the likelihood of the team moving on from veteran Justin Hardy this offseason.
Grabbing a fleet-footed playmaker to the roster could make for a well-rounded receiving corps. The speedster showed off his athleticism and speed at the NFL Combine with a 4.33 in the 40 and a 36.5 inch vertical. Hardman has only played receiver the past two seasons for Georgia but he did average 16.0 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdown receptions. Much will not be asked from him in year one as he can learn behind the trio of receivers in front of him. Hardman needs to expand his route tree as a receiver but he can still offer a stick of dynamite in the passing game and as a returner.
Round 4, 137th Overall (Comp pick) - Ben Banogu, DE , TCU
Thanks to minimal activity in free agency, the Falcons may be looking to shore up depth and in this case, Banogu is an interesting prospect that definitely showed at the collegiate level, he was able to get after the quarterback. Which is a point of emphasis for the Falcons. There is speed in his skill set and he was one of the top performers in the 3-cone drill at the Combine. You can never have too many pass rushers and this proves that the Falcons are looking to hammer home the fact that they would love to improve that critical aspect.
Round 5, 152nd Overall - Foster Moreau, TE , LSU
Swirling rumors are also saying that the Falcons may be in the market to add a young tight end alongside starter Austin Hooper to strengthen their rotation and two-tight end sets. Veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in a free agent this offseason and had an admirable season as the team’s primary blocking tight end.
But Moreau showed something during Senior Bowl week and the NFL Combine and while he currently possesses the tag as strictly a blocking tight end, there is a growing sense that Moreau can offer more in the receiving aspect than what was shown while at LSU.
Round 5, 172nd Overall (Comp pick) - Drue Tranquill, LB , Notre Dame
Tranquill seems to check the boxes when it comes to determine what the Falcons are looking for. Tranquill is a leader and a former team captain for the Fighting Irish. His tough mindset is also what the team may look for as they attempt to get a little more gritter on defense. His back-to-back torn ACLs while at Notre Dame may be a cause for concern, but selecting Tranquill can provide insurance in case the team decides to move on from starting strong-side linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to free agency next offseason. His sharp instincts also provide a second coach in the field.
Round 6, 186th Overall - Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison
We all know how Quinn loves his athleticism and playmaking ability at all three levels of the defense and is not afraid to hop on talent that is not star-studded. Moreland has impressive ball skills and instincts to somewhat compensate for his lack of NFL size. Many may see a corner that can be a weapon as a slot but with his skill set, Moreland can hold his own on the boundary. Moreland provides flexibility if the Damontae Kazee moves back to free safety and there is a hole in the slot. With this many draft picks in tow, the Falcons can afford to shore up depth with late picks. Remember how depth was tested early during the 2018 season.
Round 7, 230th Overall - Tony Pollard, RB , Memphis
We all should be aware that there is a great likelihood that running back Tevin Coleman has played his last game as a Falcon. Going into next season, the team will be leaning on running backs Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith but let’s be honest, the team could use a dose of pure speed at running back to open things up. Enter Pollard, a versatile weapon with 1,010 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns this past season for the loaded Memphis offense. Pollard also added 104 total catches during the past three seasons in college.