In Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft for SB Nation, the Falcons justifiably focus their attention on the trenches. The players they wind up with will rank as a surprise for some and a disappointment for others, but Kadar’s heart is in the right place and his picks make sense when you consider the context in which they occur.
Given that, let’s dive in.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, cornerback, tight end
Maybe it’s getting a little boring to send defensive tackles to Atlanta in mock drafts, but this explains why the line needs some work. In four years at Clemson, Wilkins had 250 tackles and 41 tackles for loss. He can bring plenty of pressure up the middle too. According to Sports Info Solutions’ Rookie Handbook, Wilkins created 106 pressures and 74 hurries, much better numbers than Williams, Oliver, or Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons.
The important note here is that Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Devin White, Montez Sweat, Ed Oliver, Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, and Clelin Ferrell are all gone at this point, which is somewhat of a worst case scenario for the Falcons as it significantly thins out their options on defense. In light of that, Wilkins is one of the better defenders available to Atlanta and a player they’ve certainly expressed interest in to this point. Wilkins would pair with Grady Jarrett over the long haul with Deadrin Senat serving as (we hope) a killer run stopping rotational option, which gives the Falcons a lot of talent in the middle of their defensive line. It still leaves them largely bereft at EDGE, however, which is a sore spot unless Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley are headed for huge years.
What about the second round?
45. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
This one’s a little less compelling. Kadar has Tytus Howard, Dalton Risner, Zach Allen and Chase Winovich going after Lindstrom, and frankly I’d probably prefer one of them. Lindstrom is a terrific athlete and would be interesting as a long-term option at center or guard, but with the Falcons suddenly prioritizing bulk and a bit more power at guard with Dirk Koetter in the fold, he might not be an ideal fit for that position any longer. If the Falcons thought Lindstrom could succeed Alex Mack when the legend is ready to move on, he’d be a fine pick here, but I’d again rather they addressed defensive end or tackle with the options available to them.
Would this be an ideal result? Not in my eyes. I’m not the world’s biggest Wilkins fan, and to get him the Falcons bypass two potentially elite right tackles in Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor, not to mention the extremely intriguing Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame at DT. But Wilkins has a history of production and the size and athletic ability to be a damn fine player for the Atlanta Falcons, so it could hardly be considered a poor fit. Lindstrom makes sense as a long-term starter at center or guard, but he might not be able to find his way on the field in his first NFL season, making him a tough sell for a second round pick.
Still, if the draft unfolds this way the Falcons will have added quality players Kadar clearly likes, with potential five-year-plus starter at defensive tackle and a left guard/center of the future, and that’s nothing to sneeze at for a team that still needs both. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the two round mock.