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Falcons 7-round mock draft: Penultimate Edition

With the 2021 NFL Draft only a week away, it’s time for another mock draft for the Falcons. In our latest 7-round projections, we take a closer look at a scenario where Atlanta decides to remain at 4.

Oklahoma v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

We’ve got exactly one week left until the 2021 NFL Draft, and we’re no closer to deciphering the Falcons plans for the 4th overall pick and beyond. Between copious trade-down rumors, Kyle Pitts love, and a vague but intriguing interview with Arthur Blank, Atlanta has been linked to a number of possibilities at the top of the draft. What the team does is perhaps the biggest question mark of the draft, and the Falcons are receiving national attention as a result.

I’ll be conducting two more 7-round mock drafts for the Falcons, including today’s. For these final two, I’ll be making them “predictive”: my picks will reflect my personal thoughts on what the team will do in the 2021 NFL Draft. That means wild trades are (mostly) off the table, and I’ll be taking my best shot at figuring out the team’s targets.

Interested in my previous mock drafts? You can check them out below:

Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 17 | Offseason 1.0 | Offseason 2.0 | Offseason 3.0 | Post-Free Agency | Post-Trades | Penultimate

As always, I’ll be using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine to complete this simulation.

Round 1, Pick 4: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

If the 49ers elect to pick either Trey Lance or Mac Jones (hah!) at 3, I firmly believe the Falcons will not hesitate to pounce on Ohio State QB Justin Fields at 4. Fields is my QB2, and he’s closer to Lawrence than Trey Lance or Zach Wilson in my humble opinion. Obviously, this pick would signal a new era for Atlanta and likely mean Matt Ryan will be playing elsewhere in 2022. It’s a bold decision, and one that will certainly be contentious within the fanbase, but from a team-building and longevity standpoint it makes sense.

Here’s how I described Fields’ talents in a previous mock draft:

At 6’3, 223, Fields certainly has the stature of an NFL QB. He couples that size with exceptional athleticism and arm strength, allowing him to make plays at any level of the field. Fields is a true dual-threat at QB and will be at his best when allowed to make plays on the move. He’s capable of picking up chunk yardage with his legs and escaping pressure in the pocket to make incredible plays downfield. Fields still has work to do with his decision-making, as he relies a lot on his first read as a passer and can get surprisingly conservative with his throws at times, but he’s got elite NFL QB potential and could be the long-term future in Atlanta.

Round 2, Pick 35: C/G Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

With the Falcons selecting their future franchise QB in Justin Fields at 4, the focus of the draft now shifts to building a quality team around him to hopefully compete in the 2022/2023 seasons. Regardless of whether or not Atlanta takes a QB at 4, I believe they’ll be strongly considering an offensive line selection here at pick 35. If Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey—who tested out as the most athletic center of all time, per RAS—is still available here, I would not hesitate to select him.

Humphrey’s blend of size (6’4, 312), athleticism, power, and experience make him an ideal player for the Falcons to target. While he’s spent the vast majority of his career at center, Humphrey is more than capable of playing left guard in 2021 if Atlanta chooses to keep Hennessy at the pivot. I love Humphrey’s nastiness at the point of attack, and he’s one of the most technically sound offensive linemen in the class. This would be a slam-dunk selection at 35, as Humphrey would immediately address the biggest weakness on the offense and give Fields a young and very talented offensive line to grow with.

Round 3, Pick 68: EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest

The focus on the trenches continues with the selection of Wake Forest EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. at pick 68. Atlanta kept their edge rushing room from total disaster by retaining Dante Fowler at a reduced salary and signing veterans Brandon Copeland and Barkevious Mingo, but they are still in desperate need of a high-end starter to complement Fowler. Basham is a big, powerful rusher who also offers some interior versatility, and can make an impact right away in Atlanta. Here’s how I described Basham’s skillset in my EDGE targets piece from earlier this week:

While Basham is not a versatile 3-4/4-3 rusher, he’s good enough at what he does to overcome this lack of flexibility. Basham is a traditional hand-in-the-dirt EDGE only—you don’t want him standing up and dropping in coverage—but he’s got tremendous power and advanced pass rushing moves. Basham actually tested out better than I thought he would. On tape, he appears a little stiff at times, but his testing reveals that he’s got a higher athletic ceiling. Notably, Basham slimmed down into the 270s from a playing weight in the 280s—a further drop in weight could help Basham play with more explosiveness and mobility.

Round 4, Pick 108: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

The Falcons addressed the running back position with the signings of Mike Davis—who figures to be the lead back in a committee—and Cordarrelle Patterson, who will play a complementary role. However, the team also elected to move on from Ito Smith, which signals they aren’t done tinkering with the position just yet. The need isn’t quite as big as it was at the beginning of the offseason, so Atlanta could easily wait until Day 3 to add a falling talent.

Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard was the most electric RB in college football in the 2019 season, but had a down year in 2020. That has caused his stock to fall, but Hubbard’s talent remains unchanged. At 6’0, 210, Hubbard has good size and showed off excellent speed and explosiveness. He’s showcased solid vision and patience as a runner, and is a threat to break off a big play at any time. However, Hubbard has never developed as a receiver and lacks physicality. He’s best served as part of a committee at the NFL level, but could be a dynamic option to pair with Davis and Patterson in 2021.

TRADE — Round 4, Pick 123: S James Wiggins, Cincinnati

Falcons trade picks 148 (5th), 187 (6th), and 219 (6th) to the Eagles for pick 123.

With safeties starting to fly off the board in the fourth round, the Falcons engineer a small trade-up with the Eagles to secure a high-upside prospect in Cincinnati’s James Wiggins. Wiggins tested out as an elite athlete at his Pro Day and brings solid size to the position at 5’11, 210. His biggest asset is his versatility: Wiggins was deployed in a hybrid role in college and has experience lining up all over the secondary. That flexibility makes him an ideal fit in Dean Pees’ defense, where he can function as the third safety in 2021 before taking over a starting role in 2022 and beyond. Here’s how I described Wiggins’ talents in a previous mock draft:

Wiggins is a physical player who can bring the boom as a tackler. He’s also strong in coverage and is an excellent ballhawk, with 5 INTs and 11 PD over the past two seasons. His ability to line up anywhere in the secondary adds to his value, although he still needs work in zone coverage. The issues with Wiggins have primarily been injury-related, as he tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and had a setback prior to 2020. His athleticism has clearly not been affected, as his testing shows, but it’s worth mentioning and he’ll need to clear medical checks. Still, Wiggins is an absolute bargain at this spot who could thrive as a hybrid safety in Dean Pees’ scheme.

Round 5, Pick 182: CB Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas

With a QB pick at 4—and no trade-down—the Falcons simply don’t have enough selections to address all their needs early in the draft. Cornerback ends up being the position that must wait until Day 3. There are still a few developmental prospects worth investigating in the fifth round, however, like Central Arkansas’ Robert Rochell. A former wide receiver, Rochell transitioned to defensive back at the college level and that experience has served him well as a dangerous ballhawk.

At nearly 6’0, 193, Rochell tested out as an elite athlete at his Pro Day with a 4.41s 40-yard dash, incredible 43’ vertical jump and 11” broad jump, and a 6.84s 3-cone. He’s intensely competitive, both in press and at the catch point, and has exciting potential on the outside due to his traits and length. However, Rochell tends to grab far too often and will have some growing pains transitioning from a lower level of play. He’s still got a lot of development ahead of him, but Rochell has intriguing long-term upside for the Falcons. That’s a good investment late in the fifth round.

Round 5, Pick 183: WR Jacob Harris, UCF

With their final pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Falcons dive in to one of deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory for a developmental prospect with sky-high upside. UCF’s Jacob Harris is a physical marvel, with tremendous size (6’5, 219), speed (4.43s 40), explosiveness (40.5’ vert, 11”1’ broad), and agility (6.51s 3-cone). Those are incredible numbers which make Harris one of the most athletic receiver prospects of all time—30th out of nearly 2500 since 1987.

Harris is a raw prospect with a limited route tree, but he’s able to produce off of his traits alone: 49 catches for 987 yards (20.1 YPR) and 9 TD over the past two seasons in the AAC. He must work to improve his hands, as his tape is littered with frustrating drops, but Harris offers truly rare potential this late in the draft. In Atlanta, he won’t need to contribute immediately behind a strong WR corps and should be an absolute demon on special teams.


What are your thoughts on this mock draft scenario for the Falcons? Share your comments and your own mock drafts below!