With the draft order finally set and the Falcons racking up wins to finish the season, we finally know where the Falcons will finally land. A few months back we wondered if the Falcons could lose their way to Chase Young. We know that is out of the question, with the Falcons dropping to the 16th slot in the 2020 NFL draft.
Mocking the Draft, SB Nation’s undisputed... mock draft website, ran through the first post-season mock draft. The early results are pretty good. Top talent like Chase Young and Derrick Brown go 2 and 3, respectively, but the Falcons land the next best defensive lineman at 16. It would be a very impressive haul.
Per Dan Kadar:
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa had another standout season for Iowa with 11.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss despite frequently facing multiple blockers. He’s an interesting prospect at 6’6 and 280 pounds because he can work from the outside, or be moved inside in nickel packages.
Epenesa at 16 would be stellar value, and may only happen if he has an uneven performance at the scouting combine. He is frequently compared to Michael Bennett, a DE/DT that had his best seasons with Dan Quinn. He finished his sophomore and junior years with a total of 22 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss, and 8 forced fumbles.
Epenesa has received a lot of credit for his high motor, strength, and work ethic. Considering his size and some of his scouting report traits, Falcons fans may think of Patrick Kerney as a possible comparison.
The selection obviously means the end of the road for Vic Beasley. The Falcons probably need to better allocate their limited cap resources, and definitely need to upgrade on the position. Epenesa should push Takkarist McKinley primarily to the RDE spot, and he can even move inside on some obvious passing downs. He would offer a lot of versatility on day one.