As we approach the opening round of the NFL Draft, we’ve got to still deliberate where this pick could go.
Why not have help from some of the league’s top minds?
Select NFL Network media personalities were on hand Wednesday in Nashville to address just that.
One of NFL Network’s resident draft experts, Daniel Jeremiah, spoke to what he’s been hearing with the Falcons, centering on one name in particular.
“I think they can be patient [at Pick 14] because I think there are a couple of different areas they can go,” Jeremiah said. “I’ve been told they really like Christian Wilkins, that that could be an option for them if they were to move up a little bit and try and secure him.
“You’d probably have to leapfrog Miami to get that done.”
Jeremiah says he could also see a talent like Florida State defensive end Brian Burns falling to the Falcons at 14, but says not to sleep on the pick centering on the offensive line.
“I look at it and say, okay, if somehow, Jawaan Taylor were to fall there, if Jonah [Williams] were to be there, he’d be in the mix.”
He hints that his latest mock before the draft will slot Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford to the Falcons, who has potential to play guard and tackle.
Stanford head coach David Shaw, who offers his prognostications on the NFL when the college season isn’t going on, had this to say about the Falcons.
“They have some positions that they can still play at a really high level; they have some older guys at some positions here that you have to eventually have backups for,” he said.
“They play really good defense, but there are a lot of good defensive players in this draft, and for teams like the Falcons that already have some really good defensive players, do we accentuate a place where we’re strong, or do we add to the offensive line, or do we add to the weapons we need for our quarterback? Those are the tough questions.”
Shaw said, knowing the team and some people within the organization, he thinks there are great defensive options available for the team to choose from to affect games.
NFL Network’s Joel Klatt, a former college quarterback standout at Colorado, said he feels there’s one name the Falcons would greatly benefit from, one you’ve seen mentioned above.
“I think their defense needs to get better,” Klatt said outside of adding to Matt Ryan’s offensive arsenal. “I don’t think their defense played great last year.
“And the interior of their defensive line, I would argue, could use an upgrade...Christian Wilkins, the day you draft him, is a cornerstone franchise piece. Not just from an ability standpoint, but from a character, intangible and leadership standpoint.”
Klatt had high praise for the Clemson defensive lineman.
“I don’t know if I’ve had a more positive experience meeting a college athlete than I have meeting Christian Wilkins,” he said. “He’s also extremely disruptive, plays hard. He’s a good piece in the locker room...he’s strong. He can push the pocket into the lap of the quarterback. So maybe that’s the spot [for him].”
We’ll see if these words hold true once Atlanta makes its first-round pick here soon.