The disappointment of the 2019 season still lingers a bit. A debacle of a start to the season somewhat faded over the second half of the season as the Atlanta Falcons closed out the season going 6-2 over the last eight weeks. Nestled within that 6-2 stretch were impressive road wins against San Francisco and New Orleans.
Many fans are probably ready to put the 2019 season behind them and turn the focus forward. But before we do so, let’s have a little fun, shall we?
A ton of talk was generated after the Falcons 2019 draft that saw the team take two offensive linemen in the first round and a possible gem at corner out of Ohio State. For today, we will shake things up a bit and redo the Falcons 2019 draft. Of note, there will be no remake of any draft trades and the Falcons will have their original draft slots in the particular rounds. To also keep it as realistic as possible, I will not take the best player in each round and build somewhat of an historic draft class. Be logical here, folks. Let’s get started.
Round 1, 14th Overall - Brian Burns, DE , Florida State
Original pick: Chris Lindstrom, G , Boston College
The Falcons shocked some by grabbing the physical guard out of Boston College to help boost the offensive line. He was limited to just five games played thanks to a broken foot in Week 1 against Minnesota. But once he returned, Lindstrom showed why he can be a pillar for years to come in Atlanta.
However, coming into the draft, it was noted that the biggest need for the Falcons at that point in time was adding a pass rusher to their defensive front. Given that the Falcons made it rain in free agency with the signings of James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, it was natural to think that the team would go in a different direction.
So instead, I take an athletic freak to get after the quarterback after the Falcons instead used all their chips on relying on Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, and Adrian Clayborn to get the job done. For the Carolina Panthers, Burns totaled 23 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits in just five starts. Many Falcons fans were turned off by Burns due to his similarities to Beasley. Yet, you can make a case that Burns outperformed Beasley to an extent due to Burns having less starts and less snaps although their numbers are not far off.
Round 2, 45th Overall - Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Original pick: McGary taken 31st overall after trade with Los Angeles Rams
The Falcons made the jump from middle of the second round to 31st overall after trading with the Los Angeles Rams. Such move appeared to be the result of the team anticipating a run on offensive tackles occurring. From pick 22 by the Eagles to the Falcons original 45th overall pick, there were seven offensive tackles taken, including McGary.
So yes, if there was anticipation of offensive tackles getting selected left and right, then you can admire the Falcons making an aggressive move to get their guy. McGary is a physical right tackle that does not have great athleticism. But he has natural power that will stabilize the right side of the offensive line.
On the other hand, I do believe that McGary would have still been available at 45th overall for the Falcons to select and that the trade itself may not have been necessary. Tackles such as Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford, and Dalton Risner were still available once the Falcons made the trade and the pick. All three were considered pre-draft better than McGary and would have probably pushed McGary down to the middle of the second round for the Falcons to grab. Nevertheless, inserting McGary into the Falcons offensive plans provided needed youth and a little mean streak to a unit that lacked such trait.
Round 3, 79th overall - Nate Davis, G, Charlotte
Original pick: 3rd round pick included in McGary deal
Sticking with the theme of adding some skill to the Falcons offensive line, I now address the position that the Falcons targeted in Round 1 with Lindstrom. Davis was a small school prospect that generated some intrigue during the pre-draft process. At 6’3 and almost 320 pounds, Davis has a stocky frame that packs short-area quickness and agility that would have been an asset to a team that executes inside and outside zone blocking run schemes. Davis was eventually selected 82nd overall by the Tennessee Titans and saw action in 13 total games. It is also of note that he started 12 of those games and has been a mainstay on the line since Week 5 and the league’s 3rd ranked rushing offense.
Round 4, 111th overall - Kendall Sheffield, CB , Ohio State
Original pick: Kendall Sheffield, CB , Ohio State
The Falcons may have struck gold with the selection of this former Ohio State Buckeye. A multitude of pre-draft discussions illustrated that the Falcons would likely be shopping for a cornerback. The team moved on from former starters Robert Alford and Brian Poole during the offseason and were in the midst of having 2018 second rounder Isaiah Oliver as the new starter opposite Desmond Trufant.
There is no debate that Sheffield was the best rookie for the Falcons during the 2019 season. He played in all 16 games while starting 11 of them and saw 708 total snaps on the season. As the season progressed and a season-ending injury to Trufant, Sheffield saw more time and the Falcons defense benefitted because of it. The speedy defender has a very, very bright future and in my honest opinion, he has enough tools to quite possibly be the best slot corner in the NFL if given time and patience.
Round 4, 135th Overall - John Cominsky, DL, Charleston
Original pick: John Cominsky, DL, Charleston
One of my favorite selections for the Falcons in their draft haul, Cominsky was a raw prospect coming out of the University of Charleston (WV). The 6’5 defensive lineman had only four seasons under his belt at the position after playing quarterback at the high school level. So it should have been expected that Cominsky needed plenty of seasoning.
But when it comes to drafting on Day 3 of the draft, a team is likely to aim for diamonds in the rough. Which is what the Falcons did with Cominsky. An ankle injury during the season caused Cominsky to miss six games however, the Falcons still attempted to insert Cominsky gradually as the season went along. Thanks to his 285-lb frame and physicality, Cominsky’s skill set is tailor-made for the strong-side defensive end on base downs for the Falcons. This is a selection I would remake if given the opportunity due to his potential.
Round 5, 152nd Overall - Kelvin Harmon, WR , North Carolina State
Original pick: Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh
The need for a receiver was not great for the Falcons coming into the draft. Yet, Harmon’s value this late in the draft was hard to truly pass up.
Especially when the Falcons made the tactical decision to trade veteran Mohamed Sanu during the season, Harmon’s addition could have stabilize the receiving corps in Atlanta for the future. Harmon recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at North Carolina in 2017 and 2018. Harmon, a 6’2 215-lb possession receiver, was eventually taken by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round. The latter half of the season allowed Harmon to showcase what he can provide. On the season, Harmon registered 30 receptions in 16 games played. He also saw the field for 40 offensive snaps or more in six of the last seven games for the Redskins.
Nabbing Ollison gave the Falcons a physical runner and a contributor with four rushing touchdowns on the season. But instead, I chose to take a swing at Harmon who unfairly dropped in the draft despite having the talent to be a solid round two prospect. The value here is just too rich to pass up.
Round 5, 172 Overall - Travis Homer, RB, Miami
Original pick: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
Let’s stick to the theme of adding depth to the running back position shall we. Homer’s versatility would have impacted the position itself as well as aided the special teams for the Falcons. Homer was selected in the sixth round by the Seattle Seahawks and saw just special teams snaps until he played an integral part in the final four games. Over that same course, Homer totaled 146 offensive snaps.
In the Week 17 battle against division rival 49ers, Homer totaled 92 yards from scrimmage in his first NFL start. Injuries to Seattle running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny laid the groundwork for Homer to get a rare shot. When thrusted into the spotlight, Homer made a few plays and showed the value he has. Homer’s addition to the Falcons running back group could have also paid dividends.
Round 6, 203rd Overall - Dakota Allen, LB , Texas Tech
Original pick: Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe
This late in the draft, you’re looking for guys to round out depth at their respective positions and upgrade special teams. The Falcons have a youthful set of athletes as starters at the linebacker position but the depth has not quite been ideal for a few seasons. Selecting a guy like Allen incorporates a veteran starter at the collegiate level to wisely back up the athletic Deion Jones. In three seasons for the Red Raiders, Allen posted 249 total tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss. Allen won’t threaten the first line of defense at linebacker but it at least provides a little more stability for their two-deep depth chart at the position.