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Falcons 7-Round 2019 Mock Draft: Seventh Edition

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We’ve heard the buzz about a potential top-10 trade up for the Falcons, but what if Atlanta decides to remain at 14 and trade up later in the first round? We take a closer look at what that might cost, and how the draft might play out in that scenario.

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We’re less than three weeks away from the 2019 NFL Draft, and things are getting exciting around here. This week, we began hearing more and more buzz that the Falcons are looking to trade up in the first round. Our very own Eric Robinson examined what a draft might look like with a trade up earlier this week. To be clear, if the Falcons want to guarantee that they get Ed Oliver, they’ll still need to get ahead of teams like Buffalo and Denver. But what would happen if they stayed put at 14 and tried to pull off a trade later in the first round?

For this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine—which I view as the most accurate of the bunch. There are currently no “trades” in the machine, so I had to do it “manually” by picking for both Atlanta and their eventual trade partner.

If you missed any of my previous mock drafts, you can find them below:

Let’s take a closer look at what a later trade up might look like for the Falcons, and what it might cost in terms of draft picks and potential depth additions.

Round 1, Pick 14: DT Ed Oliver, Houston

TDN’s Mock Draft Machine is still quite bullish on Houston’s Ed Oliver being available for the Falcons at 14. I think the chances are still right around 35%—Oliver’s Pro Day workout probably didn’t move the needle for teams as much as it did for analysts—but if he’s there, you have to make the pick. Oliver is such a perfect fit in Dan Quinn’s defense and is a top-5 player in this class for me. Getting him at 14 overall would be a slam dunk. Here’s how I described Oliver’s talents in my scouting report:

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.

TRADE—Round 1, Pick 27: EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

Falcons trade picks 45, 79, and 152 to the Raiders for pick 27.

If the Falcons want to get an impact edge defender in this class after taking Ed Oliver at 14, they can’t afford to wait until pick 45. So Atlanta makes their move by trading their second, third, and first fifth round pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for pick 27. Sitting there is Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell, who will likely fall due to his lack of elite upside compared to the other first-round EDGE prospects. I’d much rather have the rock-solid consistency of Ferrell than someone like, say, Rashan Gary. Here’s what I wrote about Ferrell in my EDGE prospect preview:

He may only have an 8-10 sack ceiling in the NFL, but the 6’5, 260 Ferrell is an elite run defender with a versatile skillset and tons of experience. His athleticism—while not off-the-charts like some of the top prospects—is above-average, and he can still win with burst and bend on occasion. Ferrell plays with excellent power and physicality, and he’s a polished technician. He doesn’t have many weaknesses to his game outside of a lack of top-end athleticism. Paired with the power and pass rushing of someone like Takk McKinley, Ferrell could help form one of the most well-rounded duos in the league.

Round 4, Pick 117: OT Bobby Evans, Oklahoma

The consequence of trading up for an additional first round pick is that the Falcons lose both Day 2 selections, which means they’re unlikely to land their top choices at OT. If Alabama State OT Tytus Howard doesn’t make it this far, Atlanta takes the next best option in Oklahoma’s Bobby Evans. At 6’4, 312, Evans lacks the prototypical size of Howard but is much further along in his technique.

Evans is a good athlete that’s more than capable of succeeding in the zone blocking scheme. His hand usage is excellent and he’s got a nasty streak as a run blocker, with experience playing both right and left tackle. Evans may not have the high-end upside of someone like Howard, but he’s a versatile OT that has more than enough talent to be a capable NFL starter.

Round 4, Pick 137: CB Mark Fields, Clemson

Mark Fields’ stock has taken a huge upswing since a good performance at the Senior Bowl and a phenomenal workout at the Combine, but he can still be had early on Day 3. The Falcons take a swing at that upside, as Fields has the makings of a very good slot CB. While Fields lacks ideal size at 5’10, 192, he’s a speedster with quality athleticism and enough physicality to make tackles on the inside. Here’s what I wrote about Fields in my CB prospect preview:

I like Fields’ potential as a future starting slot CB in the NFL. He’s physical, aggressive, and athletic in space, with the speed to cover downfield and the lateral quickness to match up with more agile receivers. Fields isn’t the most polished player and it’s clear that he needs time to develop his instincts in coverage, but he’s the rare late-round pick with legitimate starting upside.

Round 5, Pick 172: WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor

One of Falcons’ fans favorite Day 3 WR picks, Baylor’s Jalen Hurd is a fascinating prospect. It’s pretty incredible how quickly he acclimated to WR after playing his entire career at RB—and being pretty darn good at it, too. His size is excellent and he’s a terrific athlete with surprisingly good hands. The big question is how quickly he can acclimate to WR at the NFL level, and where he’s going to play. I see Hurd as more of a “big slot” matchup piece than an outside weapon, and with Sanu likely leaving for cap reasons in 2020, the Falcons could certainly use a good one. Here’s how I described Hurd’s skillset in my WR prospect preview:

I like Fields’ potential as a future starting slot CB in the NFL. He’s physical, aggressive, and athletic in space, with the speed to cover downfield and the lateral quickness to match up with more agile receivers. Fields isn’t the most polished player and it’s clear that he needs time to develop his instincts in coverage, but he’s the rare late-round pick with legitimate starting upside.

Round 6, Pick 186: RB James Williams, Washington State

With Tevin Coleman officially departing in free agency and the Falcons not bringing in much competition for the RB3 role—I don’t see Kenjon Barner as anything more than a returner—Atlanta would be wise to find another quality receiving back in the later rounds of the draft. It just so happens that one of the best backfield receivers in the 2019 class managed to fall into the sixth round in Washington State’s James Williams.

Williams is an elite receiver at RB with solid size (5’11, 195) and solid athleticism. His ball skills are phenomenal, and Williams can be depended on to make difficult catches in just about any situation. While he’s not a burner and doesn’t possess elite agility, Williams has enough savvy and balance to evade would-be tacklers consistently. He’s also more physical than you might think, with 12 rushing TDs in 2018. While not a “bell-cow” back, Williams can begin his career as a very good third down option with the upside of an RB2.

Round 7, Pick 230: EDGE Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia

If the Falcons don’t eventually add another veteran EDGE like Adrian Clayborn to the roster, they’ll need to find at least one more player just to fill out the roster. They could take their chances with UDFAs or camp cuts, but it’s worth taking a chance on a rock-solid rotational player like Georgia’s Jonathan Ledbetter.

Ledbetter is an excellent run defender that possesses good size (6’3, 280) and length. While he’s not a flashy athlete, Ledbetter wins with excellent hand usage and physicality. He’s strong and very capable as a tackler, with a consistent motor to finish plays. As a base end, Ledbetter can carve out a role as a reliable run stuffer who could have some potential to play on the inside as well.

Analysis

With only seven picks after a late first round trade-up, the Falcons can’t quite stack the roster with the same amount of depth as we’re accustomed to seeing in these mocks. The trade-off is that Atlanta gets their guy in Ed Oliver at 14, while still addressing arguably the biggest need on the roster with a high-end talent in Clelin Ferrell. It’s hard to overstate how big of a difference adding those two to the defensive line could make—not just in 2019, but for the future.

Oliver next to Grady Jarrett is a downright elite combination that should give offensive lines nightmares. Ferrell, while lacking the upside of Brian Burns or Montez Sweat, is a polished player that can help out on all three downs. “8-10 sacks” doesn’t sound great, until you remember that the Falcons have struggled to find any players that can hit that mark consistently. I’ll take it any day of the week, and him paired with the more high-variance style of Takk McKinley could be ideal in the long run.

After those first two picks, Atlanta doesn’t get on the board again until the fourth round. The addition of OT Bobby Evans may not get many people excited, but he’s a future NFL starter that can provide reliable swing-tackle play at worst—and potentially supplant Ty Sambrailo going forward. The Falcons also add to their CB depth with Mark Fields, who needs development time but has legitimate starting upside in the slot.

With their final three picks, Atlanta addresses some important depth spots. WR Jalen Hurd is raw but brimming with potential—he could be an ideal candidate to take over for Sanu in 2020 after a year of development. RB James Williams doesn’t fill a huge need for the team, but it’s clear that the Falcons value receiving talent in their RB corps. If Devonta Freeman struggles to stay healthy again, do we really want Kenjon Barner taking significant snaps? Finally, the team fills out the depth chart at EDGE with a quality base player in Jonathan Ledbetter. He lacks upside as a pass rusher, but he’ll be an asset on early downs and in situations where the opponent wants to try to establish the run.

What are your thoughts on this potential draft class for the Falcons? How do you like the idea of a late first round trade up, as opposed to the top-10 trade up we’ve been hearing rumors about?