With the draft looming, it’s the right time to look back and see if this Falcons team and front office have certain preferences in drafting with Dan Quinn at the helm. Today, I thought we’d look at the schools Falcons draft picks have originated from.
As you’d expect, Quinn and company show a marked preference for one school in particular, one significant enough that it can’t be chalked up to mere coincidence four years in. He shows a weaker preference for a handful of other schools, but beyond that it gets dicey trying to break this thing down by college, to say nothing of conference.
Let’s dive in.
Players drafted by school
San Jose State
San Diego State
As you’ll note, the Falcons have a strong preference for LSU players under Dan Quinn, with far and away the most selections coming from that school. DQ has presided over a draft with an LSU player joining the team for each of the last four seasons and has snagged one star in Deion Jones, one promising young receiver and special teams gunner in Russell Gage, one young but struggling linebacker in Duke Riley, and one bust-by-virtue-of-suspension in Jalen Collins.
Next up are UCLA (Takkarist McKinley and his 13 sacks and still major upside, plus Devin Fuller, who was felled by injury), San Jose State (off-and-on starting guard Wes Schweitzer and Akeem King, who flamed out in Atlanta but found a home in Seattle), and Clemson (Vic Beasley and his 29.5 sacks and uncertain future and certified star Grady Jarrett). Otherwise, the Falcons have not selected more than one player from a school in the four seasons in which Quinn has been in Atlanta.
What does this mean for 2019?
It would be legitimately surprising if the Falcons didn’t draft someone from LSU. Linebacker Devin White is a consensus top 20 pick from the school, but that would arguably be a luxury/future-looking pick for a team with Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Foye Oluokun and plenty of depth. Cornerback Greedy Williams is a likely first rounder, as well, but doesn’t figure to be seriously in play for Atlanta unless he falls back into the second round.
That leaves us looking at late rounders with LSU ties. Foster Moreau is a block-first tight end who could serve as a long-term replacement for Luke Stocker and Logan Paulsen, space-eating, strong defensive tackle Ed Alexander could be a fit for the team’s fourth DT gig, and Nick Brossette could be a seventh round pickup for the Falcons as a physical back with quality blocking skills and hands. I wouldn’t rule out any of them, given DQ’s strong predilection for LSU players.
Clemson is a strong contender to improve their standings here, as well. Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins are all first round fits for a defensive line in need of talent, and Trayvon Mullen could be a third round find for this football team as a corner with size and legitimate coverage skills. Later on, pass rusher Austin Bryant and tackle Mitch Hyatt are contenders if the Falcons whiff on those positions early on.
UCLA and San Jose State don’t have a lot of draft-eligible players who figure to be on the team’s radar this year, so we won’t spend time breaking those down.
The big picture takeaway, of course, is that the Falcons haven’t limited themselves to certain schools or conferences in making their selections, which has largely been to their benefit under Dan Quinn. Just don’t be surprised if they wind up with yet another LSU and/or Clemson player by the time the draft wraps up later this month.