The NFL draft is only a few weeks out. There has been little smoke around the Falcons. At this time last year, there were a healthy number of rumors the Falcons were ready to trade down. That never happened but it did give us something to talk about.
Instead, this year we have nothing. No Matt Ryan, no Calvin Ridley and no draft rumors. All we have are an unending slog of mock drafts. You hate it. I hate it. We all hate it. But this mock draft is different because it was put together by Mel Kiper. Kiper has been putting together draft coverage for nearly 40 years, which, if nothing else, gives him a whole lot of experience.
More interesting is that Kiper put together two rounds, through which, thanks to the Julio Jones trade, provides the Falcons three new players. Let’s take a look at who the Falcons walk away with.
Round 1, Pick 8: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Kiper has the Falcons looking to fill needs. Terry Fontenot states he won’t draft for need, but between the whole Deshaun Watson fiasco and the rumor that Fontenot will be “aggressive” (or perhaps, “desperate” would be a better choice of words), the Falcons could easily end up with the draft’s first wide receiver.
Kiper has four EDGEs go in the first seven picks, which Kiper believes is the end of the good value for edge rushers. Atlanta also misses out on quarterback Malik Willis, another prospect that could have Fontenot throw out his public plan for rebuilding (again).
8th overall was too rich for Wilson according to the Falcolic’s Will McFadden in this recent scouting report. Wilson may have some elite speed but he lacks the size and run blocking prowess which would make him valuable to Arthur Smith.
Round 2, Pick 43: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
Kiper continues addressing needs by going EDGE. In a way, Fontenot is in a great position because he can’t go wrong going purely best player available. The roster is so poor that any addition can start in Game 1.
Mafe is an interesting prospect who graded out with some absolutely bonkers numbers at the combine. He would be considered a “late riser” who entered the offseason as an early Day 3 prospect. He impressed at the Senior Bowl then blew up at the combine, likely pushing him into the early Day 2 territory.
The Falcoholic’s Kevin Knight sent Mafe to a way-too-early mock draft last year, saying, “His athleticism is exceptional, with the ability to turn the corner, explode off the ball, and chase down plays from the backside. You also have to love his non-stop motor and relentless style of play.” Mafe looks like a high-upside player that will need some good coaching to reach his ceiling.
His athleticism is exceptional, with the ability to turn the corner, explode off the ball, and chase down plays from the backside. You also have to love his non-stop motor and relentless style of play.
Round 2, Pick 58: Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
Kiper calls Anderson a value pick at 58. While our Kevin Knight has Anderson more in the 4th round range, Andersen provides similar bonkers numbers that are, quite frankly, unmatched in recent years. Knight, when mocking Andersen to Atlanta in the 4th round, had the following to say about the prospect.
Andersen in one of the most unique and versatile players in the entire draft, having spent time at running back, quarterback, and most recently linebacker. As a result, Andersen is still relatively new to the position, and will take time to hone his instincts and technical skills before being thrust into a starting role in the NFL.
I have been getting some De’Vondre Campbell vibes in Kiper’s mock. Campbell had a fabulous mix of size and speed when drafted. He needed good and consistent coaching to develop... which lead to an uneven career in Atlanta. Campbell hit his ceiling last year and earned an All Pro nod.
From a long-term perspective, Andersen and Mafe could be interesting. The Falcons don’t need polished players because 2022 is going to be a wash. If either Andersen or Mafe were polished and ready to start, they’d likely be going on Day 1. If correctly developed, they could provide stunning value in their sophomore and junior seasons.