The Atlanta Falcons selected one of the consensus top players in this year’s NFL Draft when they grabbed Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick. It was the only selection for Atlanta in the first round, and the Falcons are next scheduled to come on the clock at pick No. 44 on Day 2.
As is always the case, there were some surprising names still available when the first round came to a close. Let’s take a quick look at some of the top remaining players still on the board who could be of interest to the Falcons.
CB Joey Porter Jr.
The son of Steelers legend Joey Porter has long been considered a mid-first-round selection, but he’ll still be available when the draft begins again on Friday. It might be a stretch to think he’ll still be around if the Falcons stay put, but we’ve seen them be aggressive to grab a player they feel has slipped. Porter Jr. is a long, aggressive press corner who excels at smothering receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also has special teams acumen, which is always a plus for Atlanta. The overall skillset Porter Jr. offers might not align exactly with what the Falcons desire, but he’s a good player with a lot of upside.
S Brian Branch
Branch is a player who has been connected with the Falcons to some degree throughout the draft process. A lot of that has to do with his ability to play in the slot effectively. That’s likely where the Falcons would use him if Branch is ultimately the selection. Any defensive back who played for Nick Saban is going to be ahead of the curve entering the NFL, and Branch is no different. He’s got excellent instincts and football intelligence to pair with his natural range and versatility. There was some belief that Branch, the top safety on many boards, would go in the first round, but perhaps Atlanta can make him a steal in the second.
OG Steve Avila
A former high school teammate of Jeff Okudah, Avila would make for an excellent addition to Atlanta’s offensive line on Day 2. Avila led all TCU offensive linemen in snaps last season, when he switched from center to left guard before the year, and helped the Horned Frogs reach the national championship. His positional versatility is going to be something teams covet, and the Falcons are no different. Avila is a mauler in the run game with powerful hands and a strong base. His move blocking can still be developed, but Atlanta wouldn’t need to rely on that right away with some of its other options. He could slot in from Day 1 at left guard.
WR Jonathan Mingo
After a defense-heavy free agency period, could the Falcons double up on offensive weapons with their first two draft picks? Mingo would be an enticing option if he’s still on the board at No. 44. A player who has drawn comparisons to A.J. Brown and Treylon Burks, Mingo is almost a running back at wide receiver. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Mingo is easily one of the bigger receivers in this class and that size makes him a real threat with the ball in his hands. The Falcons could scheme Mingo open in a variety of ways and let his excellent top-end speed go to work. For a team that likes to discuss players in positionless terms, Mingo would fit right in.
CB Kelee Ringo
It’s entirely possible that the Eagles jump up to the front of the line on Day 2 just to take Ringo and get one step closer to completing their All-Georgia-Draft Bingo card, but a lot of Falcons fans would like to see them land the former Bulldog. A two-time national champion – and a critical part of the first one – Ringo enters the NFL with a lot of accolades and name recognition. He’s a very physical corner with the size to match up against X receivers at the next level. While his athletic traits are outstanding, there are concerns about Ringo’s ability to match quicker receivers in space. In Atlanta, he could begin his career with a smaller role and build from there. The talent is very much worth the patience.
DE Adetomiwa Adebawore
A pre-draft favorite amongst many here in Atlanta, Adebawore would still give the Falcons a defensive lineman with explosive upside coming out of this draft. After posting a dominant workout at the combine (he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 282 pounds!), Adebawore’s physical gifts put him on the radar in a new way. But it’s his inside-outside versatility that makes me think the Falcons could be interested. The defensive line has become pretty log-jammed after a busy offseason, but Adebawore could be a prime candidate for the Richie Grant treatment and emerge in a big way in Year 2.
These are only a handful of the names still available after the first round, and I’m sure I’ve left off some fan-favorites. In truth, there’s just too many to list here. And as much as I’d love to talk about Darnell Washington some more, we’ve got to wrap this up.
If I left off a player you’re willing to pound the table for, please do so in the comments below. There are no wrong answers, only misguided shouts into the void.