On our path to the NFL draft, here’s the third mock draft from Atlanta Journal-Constitution Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter. The draft is set for April 23-25.
After wrapping up the free agency signings, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn addressed the revamped roster and shined some light on their draft needs.
The Falcons will enter the draft looking to land help along the defensive line, cornerback, left guard and backup swing tackle.
While they like defensive end Steven Means and will use John Cominsky in an increased role, they know they need more defensive line help.
They are set at linebacker since Quinn said that “he knows” that Foye Oluokun is ready to take over for De’Vondre Campbell at linebacker.
In the latest mock draft, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw slips to the Falcons at No. 16.
“With the addition of Dante (Fowler) to the group, we like where that is headed,” Quinn said while perhaps tipping off there’s more work to do. “That's a lot of reps and snaps (1,656 defensive snaps loss from last season) that you just indicated those guys that played meaningful snaps over the last few years.”
Fowler, Means and Cominsky could take up most of the snaps with the loss of Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn and Jack Crawford. Since there are no pass rushers worthy of selecting at 16, the Falcons can try to improve the pass rush by getting Kinlaw and placing him next to defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. They re-signed defensive tackle Tyeler Davison to play the run.
A pass rushing front of Fowler, Jarrett, Kinlaw and Takk McKinley (shoulder surgery) has some potential.
Dimitroff re-iterated that the Falcons are a needs-based drafting team. The player they take must be a “fit.” They will not simply sit at 16 and take the best player with the highest grade.
“We do believe definitely it is need and fit that's important for us,” Dimitroff said. “The best player on the board works into it, if you have two or three positions that you do need, hopefully you're going to go with the best player at that position, unless there is a completely disjointed setup, meaning if we needed a position exponentially more than another position and we weren't going to go with the best player at another position.”
The Falcons don’t plan to draft a quarterback if he’s the highest rated player when they are picking, because they don’t have a need at that position.
“Of course, we could have a player up there that's a quarterback that's on the board when we're still picking, and that may be a complicated decision,” Dimitroff said. “It is need for sure, but it's best player at that position of need, which again can be more than one.”
The Falcons had a strong draft in 2016, but the last couple have been lackluster. Are there any lessons to be learned from the 2016 draft that produced safety Keanu Neal (one Pro Bowl), linebacker Deion Jones (one Pro Bowl), tight Austin Hooper (two Pro Bowls) and Campbell (lead team in tackles in 2018 and 2019) and reserve guard Wes Schweitzer.
Only seventh-round Devin Fuller, a wide receiver/returner, never played a down from that draft.
“Well, look, I believe we felt like we had a lot of really good athletes in that draft,” Dimitroff said. “We felt like we got them on the field right away. We played them. We understood that they were going to have their shortcomings along the way.
“I'm a big believer in that. I know Dan (Quinn) is. We have to be mindful when we get the young guys in, they're not going to be perfect, of course. They're going to have their flaws. But we need to get them in action right away and help them evolve as soon as we can in today's world in this league. I think we did a really good job with that in '16.”
Here’s how the first round will shake out:
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: He led the Tigers to the national champion with a spectacular season.
2. Washington Redskins (3-13) – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State: He’s the top pass rusher in the draft.
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: Look for a trade here. The Lions could trade back with the Chargers and still get Okudah if the Chargers are looking to move up in front of Miami to get Tua Tagovailoa.
4. New York Giants (4-12) – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama: The Giants have to address their offensive line and get some protection for quarterback Daniel Jones. Wills makes a big jump from the 15th spot
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: The Dolphins have enough ammunition to move up to No. 1 to get Joe Burrow, but the Bengals may not listen.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Teams know that Tagovailoa can play, but must determine if he can stay healthy. The Miami Herald confirmed a report of hidden broken wrist injury.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn: He was a force at Lanier High and at Auburn. He can help to anchor the Panthers’ defense.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa: The Cardinals need to get some protection for quarterback Kyler Murray.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson: The versatile defender can play all over the field for the Jaguars.
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10) – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville: The Browns signed Jack Conklin in free agency, but still need offensive line help. Becton was the talk of the combine with his 40-yard dash time. At 364 pounds, he ran it in a blazing 5.1 seconds.
11. New York Jets (7-9) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: He averaged 19 yards a reception over his career. The Jets start a run on wide receivers.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: The Raiders pick this big play-making receiver.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from 7-9 Indianapolis Colts) - Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama: The 49ers must replace Emmanuel Sanders, who was running the deep routes for them last season. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will know how to use Ruggs’ speed.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: He was the winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, UGA’s first recipient of the award in 21 years. He played at Pace Academy.
15. Denver Broncos (7-9) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama: The former Roswell High standout was named second-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, Sporting News and Walter Camp. He selected as a third-team All-American at safety by the Associated Press and Pro Football Focus. He finished last season 10th in the SEC in tackles with 95 over 13 games. He was named the 2016 Georgia Class AAAAAAA defensive player of the year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina: Kinlaw, who’s 6-foot-6 and 309 pounds, can play all spots along the defensive line. “He’s so versatile because he’s so big and athletic,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said. “You can move him all over the place.” He’ll fit nicely next to Jarrett and keep guards off of middle linebacker Deion Jones.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – C.J. Henderson, DB, Florida: The Cowboys need help in the secondary.
18. Miami Dolphins (from 8-8 Pittsburgh) – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: Swift became the fifth running back in UGA history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He had 1,218 yards rushing and 216 receiving with a total of seven touchdowns last season. He ranks seventh on Georgia’s all-time rushing list, just behind Lars Tate (3,017) and just ahead of Knowshon Moreno (2,734).
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from 8-8 Chicago) – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma: The Raiders get some defensive help.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 9-7 Rams) – K’Lavon Chaisson, LB/DE, LSU: Chaisson measured at 6-3 and weighed 253 pounds at the combine. “As you watched him through the season, you started to see him really pick it up and get better,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU: The Eagles are desperate at wide receiver. He caught 111 passes for the Tigers last season.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from 10-6 Buffalo) – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson: The Vikings must replace Stefon Diggs.
23. New England Patriots (12-4) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: With Love still on the board, the Patriots take a shot at getting Tom Brady’s replacement.
24. New Orleans Saints (13-3) -- Patrick Queen, LB, LSU: The Saints can add to their already-stout defense.
25. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor: At 6-3 and 207 pounds, Mims ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds.
26. Miami Dolphins (from 10-6 Houston) – Joshua Jones, OT, Houston: After trading Laremy Tunsil last season, the Dolphins must restock the tackle position.
27. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State: Like the Falcons, the Seahawks are looking for pass-rush help.
28. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: The highly productive running back ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the combine.
29. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State: After going to junior college, he played two seasons for the Sun Devils and finished with 98 catches for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s excellent at getting yards after the catch and turning short passes into long-gainers.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Grant Delpit, S, LSU: He was the ninth player in LSU history to be named a unanimous first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection with 74 tackles (9.5 for loss, five sacks), a conference-high five interceptions and nine pass breakups.
31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) -- Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU: The 6-3, 290-pounder helps the 49ers fill a big need on the defensive line as they must replace DeForest Buckner. Blacklock ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds at the scouting combine.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson: In two years as a starter, he helped Clemson to a 29-1 record. The Westlake High grad finished with 107 career tackles, 20 pass breakups, six interceptions and forced two fumbles over 1,827 snaps in 44 games (30 starts).
AJC’s 2020 POSITION BY POSITION DRAFT SERIES
Offensive guards/centers: Solomon Kindley hoping to rise up draft boards | Top 10 C/Gs
Part 5: Offensive line (tackles)
Part 6: Wide receivers
Part 7: Defensive tackle
Part 8: Defensive end
Part 9: Linebackers
Part 10: Safeties
Part 11: Special Teams
Part 12: Cornerbacks
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