On our path to the draft, here’s the first mock draft from D. Orlando Ledbetter, our Atlanta Falcons Beat writer. The NFL scouting combine is set for Tuesday through Monday, March 4 in Indianapolis.
The Falcons have elected to move on from two of their top three cornerbacks.
While they have a plausible plan to replace Robert Alford and Brian Poole, they must still re-stock the position and part of the research will be done at the NFL scouting combine, which runs Tuesday, Feb. 26, through Monday, March 4, in Indianapolis.
The Falcons cut Alford and told nickel back Poole he won’t receive a restricted free agency tender. Alford played 957 defensive snaps and Poole 831 snaps last season.
While most of those snaps are set to go to second-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver and third-year defensive back Damontae Kazee, the Falcons must restock the position.
“You never have enough cover guys, that’s why you see teams taking corners,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “In this league you need four of five of them to survive in this league. It’s a corner-driven league now.”
LSU’s Greedy Williams is the consensus top cornerback in the draft.
Kiper has Deandre Baker going 20th to the Steelers in his latest mock draft. He is also high on Clemson corner Trayvon Mullen, who he has going 25th to the Eagles.
“Trayvon Mullen has the ball skills,” Kiper said. “You saw him against Alabama. He’ll tackle. He has a little physicality to his game.”
The Falcons need another top flight cornerback and Baker, who won the JIm Thorpe Award as the nation’s top cornerback, makes sense as the pre-combine mock pick.
Here’s how the rest of the first round will shake out:
2019 NFL Draft Order
1. Arizona Cardinals (3-13) – Nick Bosa, DT, Ohio State: Most of the early projections have either Bosa or Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen being selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft. “I don’t think it’s that much of a gap,” Kiper said. “The only reason it’s not a big gap is because of durability. Nick Bosa had an injury his senior year of high school and then the injury this year. That’s the only issue there.”
2. San Francisco 49ers (4-12) – Josh Allen, DE, Kentucky: Allen caught the NFL’s attention by getting 17 sacks for the Wildcats last season. “Josh Allen is more of a one-year standout,” Kiper said. “He had 17 sacks this year and he only had seven last year. I think when you look at it, he more than doubled his tackle for losses numbers. He really came into his own this year.” Allen had 21.5 tackles for losses last season. “He was a good player, but he became a great player this year,” Kiper said. “I think that Josh Allen is going to be very interesting.”
3. New York Jets (4-12) – Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State: Sweat, who played at Stephenson High, is expected to be the first player from Georgia selected in the draft.
Kiper has projected that he’ll go fifth overall to Tampa Bay. He started his career at Michigan State before transferring to junior college and resurfacing at Mississippi State. “Montez Sweat is a pass rusher,” Kiper said. “He showed that early on. In fact, when we got into early October I had Sweat as the eighth best player on the big board. Then he got kind of quiet. Then he came through with a couple of sacks late in the season. Then he had the really good Senior Bowl week. He’s got the length. He’d got the explosiveness.”
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: Considered the top cover corner in the draft.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: They took Vita Vea last season and Gerald McCoy is coming back for another season. “Williams just had a phenomenal year,” Kiper said. “I just love the way he destroys double-teams. I love his hustle and the way that he pursues.”
6. New York Giants (5-11) – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: The classic dropback passer would be the heir apparent to Eli Manning.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: The Jags have to move on from Blake Bortles. Murray could re-energize this franchise.
8. Detroit Lions (6-10) – D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi: Has been cleared after neck surgery shortened his college career. Grandson of the great Terry Metcalf and nephew of Eric Metcalf, who both starred in the NFL.
9. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Rashad Gary, DE, Michigan: He’s 6-6 and 283 pounds. He can play end and slide down inside to tackle.
10. Denver Broncos (6-10) – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: Broncos general manager John Elway is going to keep swinging until he gets the quarterback situation in Denver fixed. With the Joe Flacco trade, the Broncos won’t have to rush Lock out onto the field before he’s ready.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) – Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: Versatile lineman who could be a guard at the next level. Kiper does not believe that Jonah Williams can play left tackle in the NFL. “He’s not going to be a left tackle, but (he’s going to be a) right tackle, guard or center,” Kiper said. “... I think he’s an interior guy now.”
12. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: He’s 6-5 and 250 pounds. He can run routes and projects well as an in-line blocker.
13. Miami Dolphins (7-9) — Ed Oliver, DT, Houston: He’s a interior force.
14. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia: Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award — given to the top defensive back in college football — as a senior. Baker bypassed the Sugar Bowl to start preparing for the combine.
15. Washington Redskins (7-9) – Devin White, LB, LSU: He’s the latest speedy linebacker to come out of LSU in the Deion Jones mold.
16. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson: The Panthers must replace Julius Peppers and Ferrell can get after the quarterback. He had 21 sacks at Clemson and has the prototypical size at 6-5 and 265 pounds for a 4-3 defensive end.
17. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) – Jawann Taylor, OT, Florida: He made 33 starts for the Gators. The Browns could use him at right tackle.
18. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) – Dexter Lawrence, DE, Clemson: He’ll have to explain his suspension from the playoffs for using performance enhancing drugs.
19. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: At 6-4 and 312 pounds, he was a disruptive force for the Tigers. He can play tackle in the 4-3 and end in a 3-4.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) – Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson: His physical style of play would fit nicely with the Steelers.
21. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) – Johnathan Abraham, S, Mississippi State: Started his career at Georgia before transferring to play at his home-state school. The Seahawks need a replacement for Earl Thomas.
22. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Had Lisfranc surgery on his foot and will not take part in the combine. He’s expected to be ready for training camp.
23. Houston Texans (11-5) – Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: He’s 6-4, 338 pounds and will help the running game.
24. Oakland Raiders (4-12) (from Chicago Bears) – Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: An active sideline-to-sideline player who’d add some teeth to the Raiders’ defense.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Jachai Polite, LB, Florida: A speedy run-and-hit linebacker who can cover backs out of the backfield.
26. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) – A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi: Colts need to keep adding weapons for quarterback Andrew Luck.
27. Oakland Raiders (4-12) (from Dallas Cowboys) – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Jacobs was dazzling at times last season for the Crimson Tide. “His attempts, his carries for his career, his yards for his career are basically like one season for a lot of running backs, which means he’s got a lot of tread left on the tires,” Kiper said. “He hasn’t been beaten up. He waited his turn.”
28. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: Philip Rivers is not going to play forever. Jones can learn under Rivers before taking over down the road.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) – Andre Dilliard, OT, Washington State: The Chiefs must protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes moving forward.
30. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) (from New Orleans Saints) – Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: The Packers must rebuild in the trenches.
31. Los Angeles Rams (13-3) – N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: A big and physical receiver. He’d be another big target for Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who missed Cooper Kupp last season.
32. New England Patriots (11-5) – Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia: Younger brother of Falcons wide receiver Calvin Riley.
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