With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Atlanta Falcons are in full-on draft mode trying to fill the remaining holes on the roster. The team has a major vacancy at right guard, needs a young option opposite Vic Beasley, and needs to find depth at safety, tight end, and linebacker. This is a reasonable wish list for the team and if this year provides similar returns to last, the Falcons should be just fine heading into 2017.
Thomas Dimitroff has been known to be open to trading draft picks, but he has usually preferred to trade up for a player he likes rather than trade back to acquire more draft capital (see Jones, Julio). The Falcons, thanks to their Super Bowl appearance, are picking 31st on April 27, second-to-last. Because they are essentially picking in the second round, it would make sense for them to trade back and pick twice in the second round, acquiring an extra 3rd or 4th rounder or earlier future pick. First-round draft picks have an added advantage of giving the drafting team a 5th year option on the player, so a team picking early in the second with an unaddressed quarterback need might see value in swapping with the Falcons to grab a QB that they can lock down long-term for the cheap.
Despite the sense such a move would make, I imagine the Falcons will follow a similar strategy as last year and stand pat at 31. That being said, here’s a look at what this year’s haul could look like:
Round 1, Pick 31 – Derek Rivers, EDGE
Rivers showed out at the combine and ran a 4.61 in the 40, blazing for a 6-4, 250 lb mauler. Rivers is an uber-athletic presence on the edge and would pit perfectly at the LEO spot opposite Beasley when Beasley lines up at strong-side linebacker. This would be considered a reach by most, but Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff showed with Keanu Neal that they aren’t afraid to make a pick that seems like a reach for a player they are excited about. The Falcons have a good amount of depth at defensive end with Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, and Jack Crawford and need another edge presence to bring the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Vic Beasley can’t be recording half of the team’s sacks this season.
Round 2, Pick 63 – Dan Feeney, G
If Forrest Lamp is available when the Falcons pick at 31, I think he has to be the pick. But that scenario seems increasingly unlikely every day and I don’t think he winds up in Atlanta unless they trade up to get him. The team still needs a starting right guard as Wes Schweitzer is unproven and Hugh Thornton isn’t anything more than depth. Feeney would be an instant starter and has the quickness to excel in the zone-blocking scheme the Falcons run. He also blocked for Tevin Coleman in college, so that’s a plus.
Round 3, Pick 95 – Eddie Jackson, S
The Alabama product profiles well as a deep center fielder and would provide competition with Ricardo Allen at FS. Allen has been a revelation after switching from CB, but the team could benefit from more depth at safety, especially with Kemal Ishmael switching to linebacker.
Round 4, Pick 136 – George Kittle, TE
Kittle may well be gone by this point, but the Falcons could use more athleticism at the tight end position. They resigned Levine Toilolo but he is more of a blocker and his offensive production generally came on cleverly-designed Kyle Shanahan plays that left him wide open. Kittle ran a 4.52 40 and would add another threat down the seam to pair with Austin Hooper.
Round 5, Pick 174 – Ryan Glasgow, DT
The team could use additional depth at defensive tackle, though this is less of a need with Dontari Poe in the picture. Glasgow brings some pass-rushing ability to the table and would add to the current rotation.
Round 7, Pick 249 – Tyler Catalina, OT
Georgia’s Tyler Catalina is a local prospect the team has shown interest in and is a capable offensive lineman who could provide tackle depth or move over to guard.
Mock drafts are generally way off-base and wildly incorrect, so I expect that the Falcons will do the sensible thing and pick exactly zero of these players.
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