Good afternoon, folks! Hopefully you’ve slept off last night’s libations and are ready to do it all over again tonight, when the Falcons are currently set to have two picks on the draft’s second day.
Before we get there, it’s worth looking at who might be available and what the team’s biggest needs are. Here’s my sense of the biggest needs and some players who might be fits for the Falcons in the 2nd and 3rd round.
I am a big believer in Foye Oluokun, but despite their public support of him as a starter, I’m not 100% convinced the Falcons are. The linebacker position beyond Deion Jones is basically just Oluokun, former XFLer Edmond Robinson, and special teamer LaRoy Reynolds.
The biggest problem with this particular need is that there aren’t a ton of players projected to be available in the 2nd round who would be great fits. The Falcons could wait until the 3rd round or they could follow their typical M.O. and “reach” for Colorado’s Davion Taylor or Wyoming’s Logan Wilson on the early side today to ensure they have a starting-caliber player. If they’re convinced Oluokun can do it, depth is still a need.
#2: Defensive Tackle
Grady Jarrett is a stud, but the Falcons keep talking up how important interior pressure is and then doing curiously little about it. Tyeler Davison is a rock solid run defender and Deadrin Senat is overdue for an opportunity, but the only guy who looks like he might have some real upside as a pass rusher at DT is John Cominsky, who isn’t even guaranteed to primarily play the position in 2020.
Ross Blacklock, Justin Madubuike, and Neville Gallimore are all hanging around and would be nice fits for this Falcons defense as passing down complements to Jarrett. I personally think that’s worth a 2nd round pick, given how transformative it would be for the defense.
#3: Defensive End
This isn’t necessarily a massive immediate need, but it’s a considerable long-term one. Dante Fowler, Takk McKinley, Steven Means and Allen Bailey is a solid group, but they’re missing another rotational pass rusher this year. If they address the interior they’re probably fine for now, but Takk and Means are free agents in 2021 and Bailey might be cut given the $3.7 million in cap savings he’ll represent next year. Getting someone who can learn on the job this year and step into a major role in 2021 would be wise.
The Falcons have checked in on Jonathan Greenard, A.J. Epenesa and Yetur Gross-Matos, though the latter two likely won’t make it to their first pick in the 2nd round.
Again, a soon-to-be huge need and smaller one for 2020. Alex Mack will be a free agent in 2021 and isn’t necessarily likely to be back given age and cost, making the need for an heir apparent...well, apparent. Matt Hennessy and Lloyd Cushenberry could be options as soon as the 2nd round, and either one could mix in at that thoroughly unsettled left guard position this year if the Falcons aren’t satisfied with their options.
Right now, you can make a credible case that Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Chris Cooper, and Jamal Carter is a good enough group to roll with, even if Neal’s health can’t be taken for granted at this point.
The reality is that every one of those guys is set to be a free agent next year, however, and the draft’s second day is littered with legitimately interesting safety prospects who could be useful pieces of the puzzle this year and full-time starters next year. Antone Winfield and Kyle Dugger are personal favorites, but Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney are also available and every single one of them carries at least solid starter potential. If the Falcons throw a mild curveball today, don’t be surprised if it winds up being a safety in the 2nd round.
Also, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar had his annual list of the best players available after the first round, which I’m sharing in part here. Go read the whole thing at the link, but I’ve bolded some players I think will wind up being interesting to the Falcons in particular.
21. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
22. A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
23. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
25. Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
26. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
27. Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
28. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
31. Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
32. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
33. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
34. Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida
35. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
36. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
40. Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
43. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
44. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
46. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
47. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, TCU
48. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
49. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
50. Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
51. Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State
52. Lloyd Cushenberry, C, LSU
53. Justin Madubuike, DL, Texas A&M
54. Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
56. KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
57. Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
58. Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
59. Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
60. Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
61. Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
62. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
63. Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
64. Robert Hunt, G, Louisiana
65. Matt Peart, OT, Connecticut
66. Josh Uche, Edge, Michigan
67. Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
68. Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
69. Zack Moss, RB, Utah
70. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
71. Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU
72. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
73. Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
74. Jabari Zuniga, Edge, Florida
75. Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton