What if the current NFL was re-drafted from scratch? Imagine if players like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald and Julio Jones up for grabs. Well, ESPN has done that for all 32 teams giving each team four selections. For the Atlanta Falcons, ESPN reporter Vaughn McClure put on the GM hat and made the selections.
ESPN has rules in place for the re-draft such as:
· Salary cap doesn’t matter, everyone is up for grabs.
· Each team MUST select a quarterback, non-quarterback offensive player, defensive player and a wild card to pick any position.
· The draft order was based on the most recent 2020 NFL Draft order, with traded picks reversed in a snaking format.
Now that the rules are out of the way, lets get started.
Round 1 (16): QB Matt Ryan
In the first round, you’ll notice McClure went ahead and grabbed our real-world franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. Even with Ryan’s age, it was the right move as the Falcons (and every team for that matter) needs a solid foundation at the quarterback position to win in the modern NFL. Just for perspective, picks 17-19 were all quarterbacks, Kyler Murray (Dallas Cowboys), Teddy Bridgewater (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Chicago Bears). Unless you wanted to go for a younger option—and we’d hardly blame you for coveting Murray—this was a good choice.
Round 2 (49): DE Cameron Jordan
With the Falcons second selection, McClure added to the defense adding real-world division-rival defensive end Cameron Jordan. As much as we all loathe the Saints, this is a great selection. Jordan has been one of the most consistent NFL players along the defensive line, recording 40.5 sacks in the last three seasons. This is for the future, so McClure is banking on his production to continue with the Falcons. Some players who went a few picks later that must’ve been worth consideration were linebacker Von Miller (pick 53 – Las Vegas Raiders) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (pick 56 – Jacksonville Jaguars).
Round 3 (80): WR CeeDee Lamb
Since real-world Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at pick 37, Ryan returns to the Falcons without a No. 1 wide receiver. McClure took rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with the team’s third selection. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the selection as it’s a gamble on a rookie talent which we have nothing to base his possible production on. One pick after the Falcons took Lamb, the Dallas Cowboys selected wide receiver Keenan Allen who I would’ve much rather had. In this scenario, Ryan is only getting older and although Lamb could be great down the road, we need a day one No. 1 wide receiver. Other wide receivers who went shortly after were Amari Cooper (pick 87 – New England Patriots) and Kenny Golladay (pick 115 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Round 4 (113): CB Jeff Okudah
With the Falcons final pick in the re-draft, they took rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah, who many dreamt we would’ve selected in April’s draft. This move is another “look to the future” selection, as Okudah should be good, but if the Falcons are “win-now” – who knows how it will turn out. For context, there were some other cornerbacks selected shortly after the Falcons took Okudah, most notably Marshon Lattimore. Yes, we all despise the player, but you know what you’re getting in him.
Remember, this was just for fun. Don’t get too upset at who McClure picked and didn’t pick in the ESPN re-draft. There were some crazy selections, such as the Denver Broncos taking quarterback Drew Lock with their 15th overall selection. That’s right, they took Lock only for the Falcons to take Ryan with the very next pick. Aside from Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, the other real-world Falcons selected were defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (pick 98 – San Francisco 49ers) and defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. (pick 109 – Los Angeles Rams). If the Falcons were starting from scratch with these four guys, they’d have the makings of any intriguing team, at the very least.
You can view the full re-draft by clicking here.