The initial free agency frenzy has dissipated, and with it we now have a much clearer view of the Falcons’ needs in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. Namely, the additions of G James Carpenter and G Jamon Brown have essentially taken interior offensive line off the board, at least early in the draft. If you’d like to read more in-depth thoughts on how I think free agency shaped the Falcons’ draft strategy, check out this article.
Atlanta is armed with nine picks—plenty of ammunition to address their needs on both sides of the ball and add a lot of young depth. For this mock draft simulation, I’ll be using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine—which is, in my opinion, far superior to the other simulators out there. If you missed any of my previous mock drafts, you can find them below:
Let’s get started.
Round 1, Pick 14: OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
In this scenario, the Falcons missed out on Ed Oliver, Brian Burns, and Montez Sweat. It’s possible the team could go after Christian Wilkins or Clelin Ferrell here, but I’d rather commit to fixing the OL in 2019 with the addition of Oklahoma OT Cody Ford. Atlanta has shown interest in Ford, and at 6’4, 329 he certainly fits the mold of the bigger—but still athletic—offensive linemen that Koetter has added this offseason. I discussed Ford in my OT prospect preview, and here’s how I described his skillset:
Oklahoma’s Cody Ford has perhaps the highest upside of any offensive lineman in the 2019 NFL Draft, with a big frame and unbelievable athletic talent. He’s an elite run blocker that can excel in any scheme, and his size and strength make him very difficult to move in pass protection. He’s only been a full-time starter for a single year, but Ford is a quick learner and improved his technique rapidly over the 2018 season.
Round 2, Pick 45: EDGE Charles Omenihu, Texas
One of my favorite second round targets for the Falcons, Texas’ Charles Omenihu could be Atlanta’s new Adrian Clayborn. At 6’6, 275, Omenihu is long enough to succeed on the edge and stout enough to play on the interior in passing situations. He’s a similar player to Rashan Gary, except Omenihu’s price tag will be significantly lower. Here’s what I wrote about Omenihu in my EDGE prospect preview:
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.
Round 3, Pick 79: DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois
If the Falcons miss out on Ed Oliver, they’d still be smart to add a potential impact DT later in the draft. Value meets need in the third round with Western Illinois DT Khalen Saunders—an FCS prospect with impressive tape that has been a huge riser throughout the draft process. At 6’0, 324, Saunders is short but stout and incredibly powerful, capable of tossing offensive linemen around like ragdolls.
While he isn’t overly explosive off the snap, Saunders has very impressive speed and lateral movement ability. For a DT, he has excellent range and flexibility to plug gaps and chase down plays behind the line of scrimmage. He was downright dominant at his level of competition, and his physical traits give him the upside of a high-level NFL starter. Saunders needs a ton of technique work, however, and he’s probably best relegated to a rotational role early in his career. In the Falcons’ attacking 4-3 scheme, Saunders has a ton of potential.
Round 4, Pick 117: WR Miles Boykin, Notre Dame
Despite the Falcons bringing back WR Justin Hardy, I still believe the team is likely to target a long-term replacement for Mohamed Sanu on Day 3. Luckily, there are a ton of players I love in this area, including Mecole Hardman, Cody Thompson, and Jakobi Meyers. However, in this scenario, the Falcons swing for the fences on the sky-high upside of Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin.
Boykin wasn’t utilized much in college, but his athletic profile is downright ridiculous. At 6’3, 225, Boykin managed a 4.42s 40-yard dash (83rd percentile), a 140” broad jump (99th), and a 43.5” vertical (98th) . He also added an impressive 6.77s 3-cone (77th) and 4.07 20-yard shuttle (86th). Boykin is a dynamic deep threat with great size and contested catch ability, but he needs a season to develop his route tree and receiving technique—both of which are severely lacking. The Falcons can afford to let Boykin sit for a year and contribute on special teams, with the hope that he can take over Sanu’s role in 2020 and beyond.
Round 4, Pick 137: CB Mark Fields, Clemson
My two favorite CBs have seen their stock rise since the Combine, with Isaiah Johnson in particular vaulting himself into Day 2 consideration. If the Falcons do miss out on Johnson, they have several good Day 3 options that can also help fill out the depth chart. One of my favorites is Clemson’s Mark Fields, who put on a show at the Combine. Fields had trouble breaking into Clemson’s starting lineup throughout his entire career before being thrust onto the field in the playoffs. He had a good game against Alabama, and his stock has been on the rise ever since. Here’s what I wrote about Fields in my CB prospect preview:
I like Fields’ potential as a future starting slot CB in the NFL. He’s physical, aggressive, and athletic in space, with the speed to cover downfield and the lateral quickness to match up with more agile receivers. Fields isn’t the most polished player and it’s clear that he needs time to develop his instincts in coverage, but he’s the rare late-round pick with legitimate starting upside.
Round 5, Pick 152: LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington
The Falcons will still be on the lookout for LB depth, particularly with De’Vondre Campbell’s status in question for 2020 and Duke Riley showing very little in his starting opportunities. Washington’s Ben Burr-Kirven had already impressed me with his tape, but his Combine workout elevated him from a fringe-UDFA to an intriguing Day 3 prospect.
Burr-Kirven is a physical hitter with surprisingly good athletic ability, but his 6’0, 230 stature will limit his appeal to teams like Atlanta who don’t require a ton of size from their LBs. He’s very natural in zone coverage and is capable of covering a lot of ground with his natural athleticism and change-of-direction ability. Burr-Kirven’s physicality masks some of his physical weaknesses, but his short stature can make him a liability in coverage against TEs. At worst, Burr-Kirven will be a rotational LB with great special teams ability. Quinn’s defense could be the ideal fit for Burr-Kirven to eventually carve out a starting role.
Round 5, Pick 172: S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
If the Falcons are looking to upgrade their safety depth (and hopefully move on from Jordan Richards), Miami’s Sheldrick Redwine has the versatility to backup both strong and free safety. Redwine has solid size at 6’0, 196 coupled with impressive athletic ability—his 4.44s 40-yd dash puts him in the 90th percentile for safeties. He seems like exactly the type of player Quinn covets in his secondary. I wrote about Redwine in my safety prospect preview, and here’s how I described his talents:
Sheldrick Redwine is a versatile safety with impressive physicality and aggressiveness. I love Redwine’s run defense and tackling skills—he’s reliable in the open field and knows when to go for the big hit and when to simply wrap up. Redwine is inconsistent in coverage, but he’s good when he’s on. He has good ball skills and soft hands, with the size to match up with TEs and the quickness to keep up with RBs. Plus, Redwine is an excellent player on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 186: RB Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
Despite the Falcons signing of RB Kenjon Barner, I still think the team will add another RB in the draft. That pick might come a little later, but that’s just fine in 2019’s very deep class. Even in the sixth round, Atlanta can add RB2 talent in the form of Nebraska’s Devine Ozigbo—one of the biggest Combine snubs of the year.
A one-year wonder that had a production explosion under new head coach Scott Frost, the 6’0, 230 Ozigbo totally redefined his game and excelled in the new zone blocking scheme. Ozigbo has good vision, impressive physicality, and excellent agility and change-of-direction skills. He’s not an elite receiver, but he’s certainly capable of making plays there and can also contribute as a pass protector. Ozigbo doesn’t have breakaway speed and will never be a home run hitter in the NFL, but he’s a very well-rounded back that would be an ideal fit in Atlanta’s offense. In the sixth round, he’d be a steal.
Round 7, Pick 230: C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
While the Falcons addressed guard in free agency, they’d still be wise to add a developmental center to groom behind Alex Mack. Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard could be a fit there, particularly if he manages to last this long in the draft. Gaillard lacks ideal size, but he’s got toughness in spades and has the leadership mentality that the Falcons love to see from players. I had the Falcons taking Gaillard in a previous mock draft, and here’s what I had to say about his skillset:
Gaillard is a bit on the small side at 6’2, 308, but he’s got a lot of experience and would be a natural fit in a zone blocking scheme. Athletically and technically Gaillard still has a lot of development to do, but the Falcons have time to work with him. He could begin his career as a backup behind Alex Mack and potentially take over in a few seasons.
After missing out on their top defensive line targets in Round 1, the Falcons decide to commit to the offensive line rebuild with the selection of OT Cody Ford. With Ford taking over at RT, Atlanta will go into the 2019 season with a much larger, much more physical lineup—particularly on the right side. The team then focuses on the defensive line with the Day 2 selections of EDGE Charles Omenihu and DT Khalen Saunders. Omenihu fills the void left by Adrian Clayborn, with inside/outside flexibility and tremendous physical talent. Saunders is raw, but his potential is sky-high—particularly in a one-gap scheme like Atlanta’s.
The Falcons then turn their attention to filling out the depth across the roster. With their first fourth round pick, the team targets WR Miles Boykin—a physical marvel with tremendous size and athletic talent that simply needs some development to reach his potential. CB Mark Fields joins the Falcons as a high-upside slot option that can provide excellent depth and special teams ability. In the fifth round, the Falcons add more defensive depth in LB Ben Burr-Kirven and S Sheldrick Redwine. Burr-Kirven fits the athletic profile that Quinn targets and could potentially be an upgrade over Duke Riley. Redwine is an athletic, versatile safety prospect that can backup both SS and FS, with the potential to grow into a future starter in big nickel packages.
With their final two picks, the Falcons target even more offensive depth. RB Devine Ozigbo is an absurd value this late, as he has starting talent in a zone blocking scheme coupled with strong physical traits. C Lamont Gaillard is still in need of some technical development, but he can be groomed for a year or two behind Alex Mack with an eye on becoming long-term depth or an eventual starter.
What do you think of this mock draft for the Falcons? Any players that you’d love to see them draft? Share your own mock drafts in the comments!