The 2019 NFL Draft is filled with excellent talent. Here are some prospects who are not quite in the spotlight but can provide great value to the Atlanta Falcons if drafted.
It has literally become a separate interval on its own from the regular season itself. Of course the topic at hand is the NFL Draft, and this 2019 edition of the draft is quite possibly the most important one to date for both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Today, I will take a different approach by placing the spotlight on probable mid-round talents who can be solid additions to The Brotherhood. The Falcons have had great success in the mid-rounds thanks to selections such as defensive back Damontae Kazee, safety Ricardo Allen, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, and even running back Devonta Freeman. So let’s get started.
Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta
Nauta was never known as a stat producer while at the University of Georgia with just 68 receptions and eight touchdowns in three seasons between the hedges. But deep within the film that Nauta produced is a prospect who was clearly underutilized in a run-first Georgia scheme. Nauta has impressive NFL size at 6’3 and 244 pounds and is every bit as physical. It was not often called upon, but Nauta has enough speed to challenge defenses in the intermediate passing levels consistently.
As a blocker, he will probably be the best blocking tight end on the Falcons from Day 1 if drafted. Nauta is an interesting prospect because he has plenty of tools that were not relied on during his time at the collegiate level. Round three will probably be his ceiling, but if the Falcons wanted to add some youth to the position and part ways with veteran Logan Paulsen, Nauta is a great candidate.
Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson
A very good four-year career with the Bulldogs was concluded with Ferguson winning 2018 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and finishing his career as the NCAA all-time leader in career sacks with 45. Ironically, the Falcons are in need of pass rushing help alongside the expected development of third-year edge rusher Takk McKinley as well as former first rounder Vic Beasley. Injecting the unit with a highly productive prospect won’t hurt. One aspect of his game that stands out more than others is his hand usage, where he attacks opposing blockers with proper hand technique and a variation of pass rushing moves. Ferguson did not play at one of the Power 5 conferences, but that does not mean he is lacking in talent to solve a few issues for the Falcons.
Missouri wide receiver Emanuel Hall
More vertical concepts are on the way to Atlanta as a result of the hiring of former Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator. While I have had my gripes against his overall scheme, I will say that he has shown in recent years how to attack defenses and stretch the field vertically.
So the team can very well see the departure of wide receiver Justin Hardy in free agency and while they have the dynamic Julio Jones to take the top off the defense, adding Hall to the grouping can open so much for the likes of Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley. Hall has that dangerous track speed and his 6’2 frame provides more size to an already stacked wide receiving corps. Hall presents flexibility and with four picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, it is not out of the question for the Falcons to want to add more vertical juice to their offense.
Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard
The Falcons recently shelled out a few bucks to veteran offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, which very well paints the picture of Sambrailo being a starter in 2019. After playing well to close out the 2018 season, the team felt that Sambrailo earned a future with the team. So what direction will the team go with Ryan Schraeder? A post-June 1st cut is very likely. It would be wise for the team to search for another possible swing tackle of the future.
We all know that Quinn and Dimitroff love athletic specimens, regardless of the position. That’s what Howard brings to the table with his 6’5, 322-pound frame with 81-inch wingspan. Howard is a former tight end, and after gaining roughly 100 pounds since the beginning of his career, he has the room to develop with Sambrailo taking on the big responsibility early at right tackle.
Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield
I know what you’re thinking, “Eric, the Falcons don’t need another running back”. While they don’t necessarily need a running back, can you blame the team for being cautious going forward thanks to recent injury history by Devonta Freeman? I look at a selection as this as “insurance”. Sure, we may see an elevation in usage for second-year running back Ito Smith but Holyfield brings a dynamic to the offense that the Falcons don’t have currently and that is a special blend of speed and physicality. Holyfield is not a massive back after measuring at just 5’10 and a shade over 200 pounds, but he for sure does not run like it and carries a mean streak with every tote of the rock. His vision, change of direction, and penchant for getting better as the game goes should be enough consideration for the Falcons to add his talents.