Pitts, paired with head coach Arthur Smith and a new offensive coaching staff, is going to take this offense to a new level in due time, but Friday night isn’t too far off, and the Falcons have two early picks in the second and third rounds.
With the third pick in the second round Friday night, the Falcons will have an excellent opportunity to add a first round talent who has just slipped by a few picks. Smith and new general manager Terry Fontenot have a nice opportunity to bolster the talent on the roster with two more selections this evening.
Looking immediately into round 2, who are the best players the Falcons could grab?
North Carolina RB Javonte Williams
Williams, the battering ram from the Tarheels, broke out in 2020 and comes from Smith’s alma mater. He had 19 touchdowns and 1,140 yards last season, averaging 7.3 yards a carry. As long as the New York Jets don’t scoop him up a pick before, Williams could pair with Mike Davis and give the Falcons a surprisingly potent attack for Smith to unleash after the position looked so bare going into free agency.
Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
It’s a bit of a shock that the versatile Owusu-Koramoah fell out of Round 1, and he looks to be a steal for some team, maybe the Falcons. He would essentially work around as a Derwin James-type flex player who the Falcons could play back at strong safety and move up as a linebacker, depending on the formation. Folks say the Falcons don’t have a lot of talent on defense — you and I know they have more than folks realize, but drafting Owusu-Koramoah would help silence that criticism considerably. It also fits with the ethos of drafting the best talent available.
Florida State CB Asante Samuel, Jr.
The son of NFL great and former Falcon Asante Samuel, Samuel, Jr., is a feisty corner prospect who could pair with 2020 first-round pick A.J. Terrell for the long haul and give the Falcons a lot less to worry about in the cornerback group. He could start immediately on the outside or the slot. It’d be a nice value pick for what Samuel, Jr., could offer.
Oklahoma C/G Creed Humphrey
If the Falcons are serious about upgrading the offensive line, drafting someone like Humphrey would be a coup. He’s widely regarded as a high-ceiling NFL center, which would be vital for getting the most out of Matt Ryan’s remaining time with the team. If Matt Hennessy is the guy, Humphrey could easily slide over to left guard and start Day 1.
TCU S Trevon Moehrig
If the Falcons want a true safety, Moehrig would give them the draft’s best. No safety has been taken thus far, making Moehrig’s value skyhigh at the position. Owusu-Koramoah is a better player, but Moehrig gives the team a more classic fit and could start early. He had first-round potential and may well still be available when Atlanta picks.
Georgia OLB Azeez Ojulari
If the Falcons want some pass rushing juice, Ojulari is a speedy homewrecker who might’ve dropped down to Friday for some knee concerns. He might not be a double-digit sack guy right away, but he could likely filter into the game plan early and help awaken a long-dormant pass rush. Also, Fontenot would endear himself to all the ATL/Bulldogs fans by drafting a Georgia boy.
Alabama DT Christian Barmore
If the team wants to add some pizazz to its defensive interior, Barmore had some first-round potential and, of course, comes from the NFL prospect factory that is Alabama. The team does have former Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson who has yet to break out after what was essentially a redshirt season, but Barmore would add some boost inside and help make life easier for Grady Jarrett. If the Falcons intend to run a lot of bulky fronts in a 3-4 under Dean Pees, Barmore would only help.
WR Elijah Moore
It’d be a little strange to see the team take another pass-catching prospect after drafting Pitts, but perhaps he’s the Best Player Available and the team wants to add a dangerous inside selection to make defensive coordinators nervous-sweat in trying to identify the best way to guard what Atlanta is throwing at them. The speedy Moore has a ton of potential.
DE Ronnie Perkins
More of a power rusher who would play outside in both 3-4 and 4-3 looks, Perkins is probably the best pure defensive end available Friday night, depending on who you talk to (if you consider Ojulari a guy who could drop in coverage, too). The Falcons need impact guys on the edge, to put it nicely, so Perkins fits the bill as a potential option for Dean Pees.
C Landon Dickerson
The Falcons sniffed around centers in March, leaving some doubt as to if Hennessy really is the guy going ahead at the position. Dickerson has some injury worries but is a first round talent without them. If the new Falcons regime wants to solidify center or guard with one of the top players available, you could do a lot worse than Dickerson, who has great SEC pedigree and nastiness.
More guys to watch: Wake Forest DE Carlos Basham, Jr., Texas OLB Joseph Ossai, Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike, Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, Wisconsin-Whitewater C/G Quinn Meinerz, LSU WR Terrace Marshall, Jr., Oregon S Jevon Holland, Georgia CB Tyson Campbell, UCF S Richie Grant, Washington CB Elijah Molden, Kentucky CB Kelvin Joseph, Syracuse CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Iowa DT Daviyon Nixon, Tennessee G Trey Smith
Fellow Falcons fans, the team has a great chance to get a heck of a player when the draft gets going Friday night. The same could be said for round 3 — it’s a good draft to be picking early as the rounds get going, particularly for a front office looking to maximize talent. We’ll see soon enough who they take.