The 2020 NFL Combine has come and gone, and we’ve finally gotten another valuable data point on the incoming draft class. Some players impressed, others fell short of expectations, but all were able to make their cases to NFL scouts and evaluators. We won’t be privy to most of the information gleaned from interviews and the medical testing, but we do have the athletic numbers to look at—which could affect where some players are expected to be picked, particularly early in the draft.
Let’s take a look at an updated mock draft that factors in everything we’ve learned from the 2020 NFL Combine. For this mock draft simulation, I used The Draft Network’s excellent Mock Draft Machine to pick for the other 31 teams. Check out my picks below, and if you’ve missed any of my previous mocks, you can find them here:
Round 1, Pick 16: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
With A.J. Epenesa’s mediocre Combine and the lack of other top-end EDGE talent in the 2020 class, the Falcons will be holding out hope that LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson drops to them at 16. It seems like there’s a solid chance of that happening: it’s possible we could see up to 4 QBs taken in the top-15 to go along with 4 OTs, and it also seems like many teams have higher grades on DTs Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw than the EDGE group. If Chaisson is available, he’s the obvious pick for a Falcons team that is in desperate need of pass rush help. Here’s how I described Chaisson’s skillset in my Senior Bowl mock draft:
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. 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 Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
There’s a ton of options for the Falcons at pick 47 in mock drafts, and the team could go any number of ways depending on the highest value players available. In this scenario, Atlanta elects to double-dip on the defensive line with Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike. With Jack Crawford and Tyeler Davison potentially hitting free agency, the Falcons still need to find a long-term partner for Grady Jarrett and Madubuike could fit the bill. I discussed Madubuike in my DT prospect preview, and this is how I explained his game:
Madubuike has an exciting athletic profile, and I expect him to be one of the more impressive testers at the Combine. He’s a smooth mover and has an advanced understanding of leverage, which he uses to bolster his skills as a penetrator. Madubuike lacks ideal length, however, and this can get him into trouble against bigger opponents. He’s also not the most consistent player in terms of motor—which could be a red flag for Dan Quinn. If the Falcons are looking to add a high-upside DT in the second round, they’ll have a hard time finding a better one than Madubuike.
Round 2, Pick 55: RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
It seems clear that the Falcons are planning to add a RB in the 2020 NFL Draft—the only question is how early. The end of the second round might be the sweet spot in terms of value, particularly if one of the top names falls a little. That’s exactly what happened in this scenario, with Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins winding up the pick at 55 overall. Dobbins would immediately step into a feature back role in Atlanta’s offense and should provide a spark to a running game that was among the worst in the league in 2019. Here’s my summary on Dobbins from my RB prospect preview:
Dobbins might have the best vision and decision-making ability of any runner in the class, and he pairs it with excellent change-of-direction ability and contact balance. His footwork is fantastic and it allows him to make crazy cuts when needed. Dobbins wasn’t used extensively as a receiver, but he was very effective when targeted with a strong 10.7 YPR. He’s not necessarily a home-run hitter and won’t blow you away with off-the-charts athleticism, but he makes up for it with his outstanding football IQ. My one main gripe with Dobbins is his pass protection, which was consistently sub-par. He’ll need to fix that to truly seize a 3-down role, but I’m confident that he can. The only issue here is that Dobbins will likely cost the Falcons a Round 2 pick, which is pricey considering the team’s other needs.
Round 3, Pick 78: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
If the Falcons elect to wait on CB until the third round—a scenario which is fairly likely, considering the team’s plethora of needs—they’ll still have some good choices available in a deep class. Virginia’s Bryce Hall is a prototypical Cover 3 zone corner who would fit perfectly playing on the outside in Dan Quinn’s defense. An injury limited his production in 2019 and hurt his stock after a dominant 2018 season, which is why he could fall into the later part of Day 2. Here’s how I described Hall’s skillset in my CB prospect preview:
At 6’1, 200, Hall has great size and length for the position and is more than capable of matching up with size on the outside. He’s got tremendous ball skills and is one of the most disruptive players at the catch point in the class. Hall also brings a lot of play strength and physicality to the position, and he’s a plus player against the run and as a blitzer. However, Hall is a relatively average athlete who isn’t particularly impressive in terms of fluidity or long speed. He’ll be best served in a zone scheme where he can use his fantastic football IQ, instincts, and physicality to disrupt routes and break up throws. His injury hurt his stock in 2019, which could make him a steal in the middle part of Day 2 for the Falcons.
Round 4, Pick 109: LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
The Falcons need reinforcements at LB with the report that De’Vondre Campbell is being allowed to test free agency. It seems likely, however, that the team will have to wait until Day 3 to address the position. Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither was expected to be one of the most impressive testers at the Combine before doctors discovered a stress fracture in his foot that he apparently played through—and had his most productive season with—in 2019.
Davis-Gaither will be having surgery soon, and according to reports should be healthy in time for OTAs. That medical note could cause him to fall right into the Falcons hands in the fourth round, and he’s got the high-end athleticism that Dan Quinn requires from his LBs. I talked about Davis-Gaither in my LB prospect preview, and here’s how I explained his talents:
At 6’2, 219, Davis-Gaither is a bit on the small side for a LB, but makes up for it with standout athleticism and sideline-to-sideline range. As his production numbers suggest, Davis-Gaither is lightning-quick and capable of blowing up plays in the backfield with his burst. Despite his size limitations, he’s a physical hitter and a powerful finisher when he gets his hands on an opponent. I like his upside in coverage—his change-of-direction skills are smooth and his instincts in zone are strong. Davis-Gaither has short arms, however, which when combined with his size give him considerable difficulty at beating blocks. He’ll likely need to put on about 10 pounds to take on a true 3-down role at the NFL level, and it’s unclear how that might affect his athleticism. Still, he’s got immediate starting ability in passing situations and his athleticism gives him appealing upside—particularly for a player you can add early on Day 3.
Round 5, Pick 139: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
The Falcons appear ready to let TE Austin Hooper walk in free agency. You all know my opinion on that (it’s really, really dumb), but now we have to think about addressing his absence. There’s no beating around the bush: this year’s TE class is bad. I’m not sure any of these guys are going to replicate what Hooper can do, and definitely not in 2020. So instead, the Falcons elect to add a big-bodied WR in Michael Pittman Jr., who can possibly replicate some of what Sanu and Hooper brought to the offense. Here’s how I described Pittman’s game in my Senior Bowl mock draft:
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: OL Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson
In this draft scenario, the Falcons missed out on all the top C/G prospects by choosing to target other positions early. That might not be the wrong move for 2020, but there could be consequences down the road. Still, with Wes Schweitzer almost certainly leaving in free agency, the Falcons could use another versatile depth piece. Tremayne Anchrum has been a rock on Clemson’s offensive line for the last two years playing at RT. So why is he getting drafted in the seventh round? Because Anchrum is 6’2, and despite average arm length, simply doesn’t have the length to survive at OT in the NFL.
That makes Anchrum an obvious candidate for a slide inside to guard, where his size isn’t nearly as much of a limitation. Anchrum is a quality athlete with tons of experience, which could make him an ideal fit as a versatile backup in the NFL. It’ll take some development time to get him ready to play on the inside—the Falcons may even want to consider cross-training him at center, too—but Anchrum has a lot more upside than the offensive linemen you’d usually be looking at in the seventh round.
What are your thoughts on this potential draft class for the Falcons? Who are some prospects that you’d like to see wind up in Atlanta? Share your own mock drafts in the comments below!