The Senior Bowl is officially in the rear-view mirror, which has given draft analysts yet another data point to analyze heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. There were plenty of strong performances, as well as some disappointing ones. Notable Falcons targets like LSU C/G Lloyd Cushenberry III and South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw helped themselves with impressive weeks, possibly pushing themselves out of Atlanta’s reach on draft day.
Based on all the information from Mobile—again, big shout out to The Draft Network’s awesome coverage—it’s time for another full 7-round mock draft for the Falcons. As always, I’ll be using TDN’s Mock Draft Machine to simulate the other 31 teams while making the picks for Atlanta.
If you missed any of the previous editions of my mocks, you can find them here:
Let’s dive right in.
Round 1, Pick 16: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
With Vic Beasley likely to walk in free agency and Takk McKinley thus far failing to develop into much more than a secondary pass rusher, the Falcons are once again in desperate need of help on the EDGE. Depending on the players taken in front of them, the Falcons could be choosing between two very different options at pick 16. In this scenario, Atlanta goes after the electric athleticism and potential of LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson.
Chaisson certainly looks the part of a prototypical NFL pass rusher at 6’4, 250. He’s an incredible athlete with explosive burst, excellent flexibility, and surprising ability to convert speed-to-power. While he’s been an elite speed rusher in college, Chaisson is also one of the most technically sound and consistent run defenders in the class—something that Vic Beasley was never able to add to his game. Like most college pass rushers, Chaisson still needs to add more moves to his arsenal, and his production in college was relatively limited.
At just 20 years old and coming off a vastly improved 2019 season, all signs point to Chaisson’s best years coming in the NFL. Chaisson could be the player that Vic Beasley was supposed to be—and unlike Beasley, Chaisson can play effectively on all three downs.
Round 2, Pick 47: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU
With the Falcons double-dipping on OL at the top in 2019, it seems only fair that the team gives the defensive line the same treatment in 2020. Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore went just ahead of Atlanta in this simulation, but there’s another intriguing prospect from the Big 12 who has flown a little under-the-radar: TCU DT Ross Blacklock.
At 6’4, 305, Blacklock has bonafide NFL size and surprisingly good athleticism to go along with it. His strength and burst off the line of scrimmage also stand out immediately when popping on his tape. Despite being asked to two-gap and take on double teams at TCU, Blacklock posted some impressive production in 2019: 40 tackles, 9.0 TFL, and 3.5 sacks. His advanced hand usage and flexibility on the interior could make him at fit at both 1T and 3T at the NFL level. Blacklock did miss the entire 2018 season with an Achilles injury, but that clearly didn’t slow him down this season. Blacklock could be a significant upgrade over Tyeler Davison at NT and also offers a lot more as a pass rusher next to Grady Jarrett.
Round 2, Pick 55: C/G Matt Hennessy, Temple
The devotion to the trenches continues with the Falcons adding Alex Mack’s long-term replacement in Temple C/G Matt Hennessy. Hennessy had one of the most impressive performances at the Senior Bowl, showing his excellent technique in pass protection and alleviating many of the concerns around his lack of ideal anchor ability that showed up on tape.
At 6’4, 302, Hennessy has the size to play both center and guard and the leadership qualities you want from Mack’s successor. He’s a good athlete and is smart with his hand placement, making him an ideal fit in the zone scheme. Hennessy wasn’t an elite run blocker and lacks plus power, but his excellent pass protection ability, size, and athletic traits outweigh that—particularly for a team as pass-heavy as the Falcons.
Round 3, Pick 78: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
A frequent pick in my mock drafts, Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks is simply too good a fit for the Falcons to pass up if they don’t bring back De’Vondre Campbell in 2020. Brooks has seen his stock improve after a very strong 2019 season that saw him put up an absolutely ridiculous 108 total tackles, 20.0 TFL, and 3.0 sacks.
Brooks is a tremendous athlete with good size for the LB position at 6’1, 245. His range is exceptional and he’s got a ton of experience in coverage. Strong leadership qualities and physicality coupled with a non-stop motor make him a blast to watch on tape. Brooks does have issues stacking and shedding blocks, but his ability to read plays generally helps him take advantageous angles to the ball. He’s a perfect fit in Dan Quinn’s defense next to Deion Jones and would give Atlanta a super athletic LB duo for years to come.
Round 4, Pick 109: CB Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
Another big winner from the Senior Bowl, Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr. cemented himself as an early-Day 3 prospect in a pretty crowded CB class with his dominant performance in Mobile. What Pride lacks in ideal size—he’s just 5’11, 193—he makes up for with football IQ, overall athleticism, and physicality.
Pride matched up with a lot of very talented WRs at the Senior Bowl and held his own all week. He demonstrated his physicality both at the line of scrimmage and the catch point, and showed off his strong footwork and athletic ability in one-on-one drills. He’s never going to be an ideal matchup against NFL WR1s due to his size limitations, but Pride could become a valuable member of a rotation and has a great chance to outperform his draft stock.
Round 5, Pick 139: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Although the Falcons still have a very talented WR group with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage, the loss of Mohamed Sanu left a bit of a void on the depth chart. Atlanta is missing a big, jump-ball and red zone weapon outside of Julio Jones, and they can still get a very good one at this point in the draft in USC WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Pittman has tremendous size at 6’4, 219, and used that size to his advantage in college. He’s got huge hands and a giant catch radius that can simply be too much for smaller DBs to handle. Pittman is a physical receiver who tracks the ball very well downfield, although his deep speed is merely average. He’s not particularly explosive and isn’t going to create a ton of separation, but his size and hands make him an ideal player in contested situations. Pittman lacks the athleticism to be a high-end starter, but as a tertiary situational and matchup option on a team like Atlanta, he could be an exceptional value this late in the draft.
Round 7, Pick 205: RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis
As it seems increasingly likely that the Falcons will not be moving on from RB Devonta Freeman in 2020, the odds of the team taking a RB early are probably not very high. That being said, the team could still use an infusion of talent to complement the rotation of Freeman, Ito Smith, and Qadree Ollison. Memphis RB Antonio Gibson actually reminds me a little of 2019 sixth-rounder Marcus Green, but with much better size and a higher level of competition.
At 6’1, 223, Gibson has the frame of a workhorse back, but that’s not how he was deployed at Memphis. Instead, Gibson was used as a hybrid RB/WR and also as a very good kickoff returner. His athleticism immediately jumps off the tape, and his stats back it up: he averaged 19.3 yards per reception (along with 8 TDs) and 11.2 yards per carry (along with 4 TDs). Gibson doesn’t fit neatly into either position—he’s underdeveloped as a route runner, and runs upright on his carries—but he can be a dangerous complementary piece for a creative offensive coordinator. At this point in the draft, that’s a darn good value—even if Koetter might not qualify as “creative”.
What are your thoughts on this draft class for the Falcons? Who are some players you’d love to see Atlanta add in the 2020 NFL Draft? Share your own mock drafts in the comments below!