We’re officially only a few days away from the 2019 NFL Draft, and I am pumped. I have taken a whopping seven attempts at predicting what the Falcons will do with their nine picks—most of which will be horribly inaccurate—but I’m back for one final go. This one’s for all the marbles, folks, so I’m going to try and be as accurate as possible.
If you missed any of my previous mock drafts, here’s a quick list:
- First Edition
- Second Edition
- Third Edition
- Fourth Edition
- Fifth Edition
- Sixth Edition
- Seventh Edition
For this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine to make the picks for Atlanta. To handle trades—yes, this draft contains one—I “manually” did them by also picking for the team I wanted to trade with.
Without further adieu, here’s my final (and hopefully best) attempt at predicting the Falcons’ 2019 draft class. Enjoy!
TRADE — Round 1, Pick 8: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Falcons trade picks 14, 79, and 137 to the Lions for pick 8.
I simulated what a trade up into the late first round might look like in my last mock draft, but I don’t think the Falcons are going to wait that long to pull the trigger. If the player that Atlanta wants is available at 7 or 8, I believe the team might already have a deal in place to move up. It’s been rumored that Detroit is looking for a third and a fifth to trade down, but the Falcons sweeten the deal by offering their fourth round compensatory selection.
You folks don’t need me to tell you how good Ed Oliver is. I’ve only mocked him to Atlanta three times prior to my final attempt. However, if the Falcons really want him—and there’s no guarantee he even slides to 8—they’ll have to trade up to make it happen. I wrote up a detailed scouting report on Oliver, but here’s what you need to know:
Ed Oliver is an elite DT prospect at the NFL level. He’s an ideal fit at 3T in a 4-3 defense, though he’s got the potential to be moved around—particularly in a scheme like the Falcons use. His movement skills, deep understanding of leverage, and impressive strength make him a 3-down player that can excel against both the run and pass—despite concerns about him being “undersized”. It’s not often that you find a player of this size with Oliver’s level of lateral mobility. He’s an elite athlete in every sense of the word—explosive off the snap, incredibly quick with his feet, and downright dominant with his physicality.
Round 2, Pick 45: OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State
The Falcons addressed the defensive line in a major way with their first pick, leaving two big needs left on the board: OT and CB. I think the CB group is stronger than it appears—Trufant should play better behind a remade defensive line and Isaiah Oliver should be ready to take the next step—which leads me to target OT with this pick. Atlanta has shown a ton of interest in Tytus Howard, who has one of the highest ceilings in the class. However, with no third round pick and Howard’s stock rising, the Falcons have no choice but to take him at 45.
I talked about Howard in my OT prospect preview, and here’s how I described his talents:
Alabama State’s Tytus Howard is a small school standout with phenomenal athletic ability. Howard would be a great fit in a zone blocking scheme where he could make the most of his exceptional movement skills in space and quick feet. Technically, Howard is still quite raw, and he’ll need time in an NFL conditioning program to bring his strength up to an appropriate level. Still, Howard is my favorite of the mid-round OT prospects, and I think he can be the Falcons’ long-term answer at RT. It would be best not to count on him in his rookie season, however.
Round 4, Pick 117: WR Mecole Hardman, Georgia
This pick could go a lot of different ways for the Falcons. It really depends on who’s available: if a quality CB like Isaiah Johnson or Sean Bunting is still around, that will almost certainly be the pick. However, if Mecole Hardman manages to fall to 117, Atlanta should jump at the chance to add him. While I don’t view it as particularly likely, there are a ton of quality receivers in the late Day 2-early Day 3 range—and that could lead to a few players lasting a little longer than they should.
Here’s what I wrote about Hardman in my WR prospect preview:
Hardman looks like a natural receiver, and that coupled with his athletic gifts makes him a high-upside player with a ton of potential to grow in the NFL. His frame isn’t quite ideal, and he’s essentially raw as a route runner, but he’s got the traits that you simply can’t teach. If his stock remains in the Day 3 range, Hardman could be a steal for the Falcons—particularly if they can develop him for a year behind Sanu before putting him on the field. Hardman may also end up being the best returner in this class when it’s all said and done.
Round 5, Pick 152: C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
That’s right, folks: back-to-back Georgia picks. While Atlanta added two presumptive starters to the interior offensive line in James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, they did not address the lack of a quality backup center—unless you count Adam Gettis (I don’t). By all accounts, the Falcons love Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard. Despite his small stature at 6’2, 308, he’s tough and nasty. I’m not sure if Gaillard has the ceiling of anything more than a spot starter, but he’s got the attitude and smarts that the Falcons desire from their players. Some projections have Gaillard going as late as the seventh round, but I think Atlanta will target him earlier.
Round 5, Pick 172: CB Jimmy Moreland, James Madison
Another one of my favorite picks for the Falcons, CB Jimmy Moreland from James Madison just has the look and feel of a Dan Quinn player. I know many fans feel that the Falcons have a huge need at outside CB, but I think the need on the inside might be even greater. Atlanta actually has 4 outside options in Trufant, Oliver, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, and Ryan Neal, but only two slot options in Damontae Kazee and Wreh-Wilson (who has experience at both spots). That’s why I see them potentially targeting an inside player like Moreland on Day 3.
Here’s how I described Moreland’s skillset in a previous mock draft:
At 5’11, 175, Moreland clearly isn’t going to be an outside guy in the NFL. But the Falcons don’t need another outside CB—they need someone who can upgrade Brian Poole in the slot. I think Moreland has excellent potential as a nickel CB. He’s got tremendous ball skills and a nasty physicality to him, despite his lack of ideal size and length. Moreland’s coverage technique is solid and he’s got plenty of athletic ability to boot. He’s a CB that fits what Dan Quinn wants from a mentality perspective, and could be a steal this late in the draft.
Round 6, Pick 186: EDGE John Cominsky, Charlotte
The Falcons seem to have a habit of throwing curveballs in the sixth round—who among us even knew who Foyesade Oluokun was prior to the draft?—and I expect more of the same in 2019. A player that Atlanta has been linked with that makes a lot of sense at this point in the draft is John Cominsky from Charlotte. A 6’5, 286 pound small school standout, Cominsky tested out like an elite athlete at the NFL Combine. He’s got inside/outside potential similar to Adrian Clayborn, but he’s incredibly raw as a pass rusher.
Cominsky absolutely fits the profile of a Quinn/Dimitroff late rounder: raw technically, but physically and athletically dominant with the potential to turn into an impact player in time. The Falcons have a much more settled EDGE rotation with Clayborn’s return for 2019, which could give Cominsky the time he needs to grow. Even though he’s raw as a pass rusher, Cominsky should still be able to contribute as a base end during his rookie season.
Round 7, Pick 230: RB James Williams, Washington State
The Falcons have a glut of RBs on their roster, but I’m simply not sold on the ability of Kenjon Barner and Brian Hill to be an RB3. Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith should be a quality tandem, but what Atlanta lacks at RB is a dynamic pass-catching option. Enter James Williams from Washington State, who might be the most talented receiving back in the class. Williams did most of his work in the passing game, but he’s a quietly competent goal-line option as well—he had 12 rushing TDs in 2018. How could a player like Williams fall this far, you might ask? This class is absolutely loaded with Day 3 RBs, and somebody is going to fall to the wayside—hopefully to the Falcons’ benefit.
It’s not a question of if—it’s a question of when. The Falcons have set the table for a blockbuster trade, and I believe they have their sights set on Ed Oliver. This simulation gives us a scenario where the team moves up to 8, but they could easily go up to 7 or perhaps even 6 depending on their negotiations. Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff want to add a dominant force to the trenches, and Oliver gives them that force. Alongside Grady Jarrett, the Falcons would have an elite duo of DTs—backed up by a very good rotation featuring Jack Crawford, Deadrin Senat, and Adrian Clayborn in the nickel.
This trade takes away some of the Falcons’ Day 2 ammunition, making pick 45 all the more important. Atlanta targets their right tackle of the future in Tytus Howard, who might not see the field much in 2019 but will hopefully man the position at a high level in 2020 and beyond. The Falcons luck out in the fourth round, with WR Mecole Hardman still available at 117. Hardman fills an immediate need at returner—I believe he can be a Pro Bowl-caliber option there—and has time to grow into the WR3 role, potentially taking over for Sanu in 2020.
The Falcons then address some of their biggest depth needs in the fifth round. Lamont Gaillard fills the role of backup center behind Alex Mack, with the hope that he can grow into a potential starter after Mack’s retirement. Jimmy Moreland comes in to serve as immediate CB depth, with a ton of potential as a slot option behind Damontae Kazee. With their sixth round pick, Atlanta targets another high-upside small school player in Charlotte EDGE John Cominsky. Cominsky has future inside/outside potential, and should be able to contribute as a run defender in his rookie season. Finally, the team adds a dynamic pass-catching RB in James Williams to hopefully replace some of Tevin Coleman’s production—and provide an upgrade over the other options on the roster.
What are your thoughts on this potential draft class for the Falcons? When (and for whom) do you think Atlanta will trade up in the 2019 NFL Draft?