The NFL Draft is right around the corner. If you’re sick of all the draft talk then don’t worry, it’ll be over soon. If you love the draft talk and articles, then we’ve got a treat for you today. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s time for us at the Falcoholic to make our definitive draft selections.
Here’s how this roundtable will work: each writer participating in this roundtable will put on their general manager hat to make their selection for the Falcons at pick 14, and they’ll provide a brief analysis as to why they selected that player. The selection has to be somebody whom the writer thinks will realistically be there at 14 — I’d love to select Quinnen Williams but he’ll be long gone by the time Atlanta makes its pick.
We’ll assume that the team will stay at 14 with no trade-ups, for the sake of not getting too convoluted.
We’ll do one of these roundtables for each of Atlanta’s first three selections. Expect to see our second round selections tomorrow. Depending on how this goes, we may do a roundtable for all seven rounds next year.
You’ll see the writer’s name in italics, followed by their selection in bold, and analysis in block quotes.
Round 1, Pick 14: Andre Dillard (OT - Washington State)
I’ve been beating the drum for Ed Oliver all season long, but I just don’t see him falling to pick 14 at this point in the process. Likewise, I would love to see the Falcons take one of the draft’s top edge rushers such Montez Sweat or Brian Burns, but I see each of those guys getting selected before 14 as well.
As a result, I’ll go with the best pass blocking offensive lineman in the draft in Andre Dillard, who has the ability to step in and be an impact player from day one. Dillard exhibits outstanding footwork, football IQ, and the type of athleticism which gives him the potential to make every single block. His long arms and lateral quickness make him a menace for opposing pass rushers, and his ability to get to the second level gives him the proficiency to play in a zone blocking scheme. The run blocking needs some work, but that should come in time thanks to his athleticism and physical tools.
We’d see a great training camp battle between Dillard and Ty Sambrailo with the winner taking over the starting right tackle job and the loser becoming one of the best swing tackles in the league.
Round 1, Pick 14: Cody Ford (OT - Oklahoma)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the current Atlanta Falcons staff and management, it’s that they’re very unpredictable. At 14 they could trade up, they could trade down, or they could stay put and shock most people by drafting a defensive back like LSU’s Greedy Williams.
We won’t really know until draft night of course, so I predict that they’ll stay put and select offensive tackle Cody Ford out of Oklahoma. It may not be the sexy pick that has everyone talking, but it is necessary.
The Falcons averaged the sixth-fewest rushing yards in 2018, and Ford may be the guy to better that in 2019. Ford has a good frame, and is capable of blocking in the open field. With the release of RT Ryan Schraeder, I think the Falcons could plug in Cody Ford right away. We’ll see.
Round 1, Pick 14: Jonah Williams (OT - Alabama)
If the Falcons do view Cody Ford as a potential guard, I don’t think they’ll draft him at #14. I don’t know that they’re as high on Dillard as perhaps they ought to be, given his talent. And I do think Jawaan Taylor will be gone before 14, which in my eyes leaves my SB Nation mock draft pick.
Williams could be a ten year starter at right tackle, given his athleticism for the position, obvious technical skills, and excellent preparation for opponents. He’s not the biggest guy in the class, but he would pair with Matthews to give the team very good bookends who can move well to handle edge rushers, allowing them to focus their future attention on beefing up and improving the talent level on the interior.
My heart still wants an impact defensive lineman, and I’m hopeful we’ll get one. But if you ask me the team’s priorities and how the board’s likely to shake out, it’s Williams.
Round 1, Pick 14: Brian Burns (EDGE - Florida State)
To be totally honest, I see this pick going one of two ways: the Falcons trade-up to 8 for DT Ed Oliver if he’s there, or they stay put and draft the best OL/DL available. At 14, it’s almost certainly going to be an OT. But everyone before me has taken an OT, so let’s do something different. Despite Burns being a top-10 talent for me (and many others), he occasionally seems to fall to the Falcons at 14.
Getting Burns—who might be the best pure pass rusher in the class—at 14 would be a steal, but he’s not a fit for every scheme. He is, however, a perfect fit for Dan Quinn’s 4-3 under defense. At 6’5, 250, Burns is a bigger, stronger, and more polished version of what the Falcons hoped they’d be getting in Vic Beasley. He’s a terrific pass rusher and a solid run defender that can start his career as Atlanta’s third EDGE, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s playing more snaps than Beasley by year’s end.
OT is a big need, but I don’t think you pass on Burns if he’s available at 14. Burns gives the Falcons a lot of flexibility in 2020, too. If Beasley has another bad year, you’ve already got his replacement in house. If Beasley has a good to great season, you can afford to let him walk and potentially net a third round compensatory pick—and you’ve already got his replacement in house.
Round 1, Pick 14: Brian Burns (DE - Florida State)
It was not that long ago that I felt quite certain that the Falcons were going to trade up for one Ed Oliver. Now, I’m not so sure. Simply because I feel Oliver will go higher than the latter half of the top-10. So with the Falcons staying put at 14th overall, best lineman available is the probable play here. With that said, the pick of Burns makes too much sense as it addresses the team’s biggest need in my opinion. Burns may remind some of current Falcon Vic Beasley but his overall skill set proves that way of thinking to be unfair as Burns is advanced as a pass rusher with uncommon length and agility. Other candidates here includes Oklahoma OT Cody Ford, Washington State’s Andre Dillard, and Alabama’s Jonah Williams. But a couple of quarterbacks, a few interior defensive linemen and a couple of linebackers will help push Burns down the board similarly to how the Falcons landed WR Calvin Ridley in last year’s draft.