Before you know it, the 2020 NFL Draft will commence with the Commissioner opening up the draft, probably with a chorus of boos accompanying him. It is definitely an important draft class for the Atlanta Falcons.
Head coach Dan Quinn is feeling the pressure to get back to the playoffs. This draft class can definitely catapult the Falcons back to winning games consistently. Time to take a new swing at who the Falcons may bring to Atlanta from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Round 1, 16th Overall - K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Between Chaisson and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa, the Falcons have been tied to those particular prospects more than any others during this pre-draft process. It makes sense, however.
The Falcons have a major need to get after opposing quarterbacks consistently. Ranking 29th in the NFL in sacks is disappointing, especially for a team that has ranked toward the bottom of the league far too often over the past 10 years. The team announced earlier in the offseason they plan to move on from 2015 first-round pick Vic Beasley because of his largely inconsistent play during his career. To be straightforward, it was absolutely the right move.
What Chaisson adds to the Falcons is pure, mind-blowing athleticism. I know we have heard that tune before when it comes to adding pass rushing talent. However, Chaisson comes with a more refined package as a pass rusher than players the Falcons have drafted in recent seasons.
There is definitely the ability to convert speed to power and even apply the ‘rip-and-dip’ technique when the time is right. Chaisson should not and cannot be inserted exclusively as a pass rusher, so let’s hope the Falcons don’t make that mistake. Epenesa is the more ready of the two for the NFL grind, but for a team that needs to improve in this department, they really cannot go wrong either way.
Round 2, 47th Overall - Marlon Davidson, DL , Auburn
This is a selection that is based on what I think the team will do compared to what I think they should do. My ultimate belief is that the team should address the interior offensive line in the second round, but based on the team already stating that a three-man competition will take place at left guard, that diminishes the likelihood of swinging for one here.
So instead, the Falcons grab a 304-pound wall to play alongside Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett. Davidson was overshadowed at Auburn thanks to his former teammate Derrick Brown. However, Davidson is the punch-in-the-mouth kind of player that this defensive line needs and can have a field day with so much attention being applied to Jarrett.
Davidson’s athleticism is nothing to frown at for a defensive tackle. As a matter of fact, during his 40-yard dash at the Combine, he timed a 1.79 10-yard split, which is very good for a massive human being like him. His first step quickness and heavy hands will lead to consistent pressure on the interior in no time.
Round 2, 55th Overall - Bryce Hall, CB , Virginia
I’m still riding this bandwagon that it may be beneficial for the Falcons to take advantage of this deep pool of cornerbacks in this year’s draft. Thanks to having two second-round picks, they have a little wiggle room to do so.
Hall fits the mold with what the Falcons like in the boundary. Dan Quinn loves athletic corners with length who are scheme versatile and have the ability to be assets in run defense. When it comes to ball skills, Hall checks that box with 38 career pass deflections, five interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Hall will also have the benefit of learning in year one with the team having Desmond Trufant, Kendall Sheffield, and Isaiah Oliver as the top trio at the position. But Hall’s overall skill set still allows the Falcons to show plenty of flexibility in the secondary.
Round 3, 78th Overall - Eno Benjamin, RB , Arizona State
Recent stories have surfaced that the Falcons are expected to move on from starting running back Devonta Freeman this offseason. If they do, it would save the Falcons a considerable amount of cap space. For a team that is in need of such space, that may be too enticing to pass up.
There are a number of ball carriers on the roster minus Freeman, but none of them strikes anyone as capable of being the main guy. Grabbing a back like Benjamin provides a ball carrier that has excellent footwork and sharp vision to find and attack running lanes. One thing I also appreciate in his skill set is his ability to absorb first contact and rarely goes down on initial contact. If a particular offensive coordinator that will remain nameless learns to run the football efficiently enough, many of you would appreciate what Benjamin has to offer also.
Round 4, 109th Overall - Harrison Bryant, TE , Florida Atlantic
As you already know, the Falcons are likely to move on from tight end Austin Hooper this offseason. A replacement could come via free agency, ironically, but it will have to be a cheap bargain player in all likelihood. However, the better option may be to take a younger prospect to groom and possibly open things up a little more at the position.
Bryant may not be a household name, but he led all FBS tight ends in receiving yards, touchdowns, and receiving yards per game last season. So that goes to show how productive he was and can be. Bryant was deployed out wide quite often in the Owls offense and at times was a complete headache for defensive backs. His in-line blocking has room for improvement but for a 240-pound move tight end, but it is not that bad at all to be quite honest. His natural hands were on display at the Combine, in particular on the gauntlet drill.
Round 5, 139th Overall - Logan Stenberg, G , Kentucky
Finally, the Falcons address the offensive line. Although as I mentioned earlier, this is a move that I would like to see them execute on Day 2. Stenberg is an aggressive interior blocker and at 6’6, he has the frame and the natural strength to anchor consistently. There is almost a bully-like demeanor with Stenberg and it is quite evident on film. Long term, Stenberg can be a starter for the Falcons at some point. It will be wise for the Falcons to invest in the offensive line at some point in the draft, even if it means stockpiling bodies for competition’s sake.
**TRADE** Round 6, 168th Overall (traded 2020 7th-205th Overall, 2021 6th Round Pick to BUF for 168th Overall) - Cam Brown, LB , Penn State
In every draft, the Falcons are foaming at the mouth to take a project on Day 3. It’s always one who has the athletic makeup to potentially be a key piece later down the line. In recent drafts, the likes of Russell Gage, Kendall Sheffield, Foye Oloukun, and Eric Saubert come to mind. You can pretty much expect the same approach in this draft and the drafting of Brown could pay dividends.
The Falcons linebacker corps needs some ammo. There is very little depth, and the team could very well see a starter (De’Vondre Campbell) depart in free agency. Thanks to his 6’5 frame and coverage ability, Brown is a potential diamond in the rough who fits this Falcons defense. It will be fair to call him raw, although to his credit, he did record 198 total tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss over the course of his four seasons in Happy Valley. Brown can start off as a major player on special teams as a potential ace. Give him time, however, and the Falcons may have a legit starter on their hands.