Falcons meet with edge rushers Boye Mafe, Drake Jackson at NFL combine

INDIANAPOLIS – Edge rushers Boye Mafe (Minnesota) and Drake Jackson (USC) told the AJC that they had productive meetings with the Falcons at the combine. Both players could be second-day draft options for the pass-rush starved team.

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Mafe has been under the radar to this point, though he’s a name fans will learn quickly. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper put him at No. 30 overall to the Chiefs in his mock draft. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah linked him to the Packers at No. 28.

Mafe played in 42 collegiate games, collecting 15 sacks (ninth in school history) and 19.5 tackles for loss. Mafe’s athletic traits and hot motor make him an appealing developmental player.

He could fit the Falcons at No. 43 (second round) – if he makes it that far.

“It went really well (with the Falcons),” Mafe said. “We talked about various things, growing up and how I got to this level, my journey coming here. I felt like it went really well with them.”

Jackson, 20, had five sacks, a forced fumble and interception in 10 games with the Trojans last season as a junior. He possesses good speed with size (6-foot-4, 250 pounds). While his run defense leaves more to be desired, Jackson’s build and natural pass-rush ability make him an intriguing prospect.

The Falcons have two second-round picks (No. 43 and 63) and an early third (74), the range in which Jackson usually is projected.

“The Falcons (meeting) went real well,” Jackson said. “Meeting with everyone was mind-blowing to me. From a young one seeing the NFL to being in the room with those guys, it’s a big eye-opener. Just knowing in a couple months I’ll be right there with them. The Falcons meeting went well. Real well.”

Fastest receiver group in combine history

If your team needs a burner, this draft class has plenty. Nine receivers ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds Thursday. And that’s without Alabama speedster Jameson Williams, potentially the fastest player in the class, running.

It’s good news for the receiver-needy Falcons, who could use any combination of speed and size at the position.

Top five receiver times:

Tyquan Thornton (Baylor): 4.28

Velus Jones (Tennessee): 4.31

Calvin Austin (Memphis): 4.32

Alec Pierce (Cincinnati): 4.33

Danny Gray (SMU): 4.33

Wyatt wins the press conference

Devonte Wyatt didn’t get the opportunity to speak publicly much during his Georgia days, which is a shame because the defensive tackle lit up the room Friday during his combine media interview. Like running back Dameon Pierce the day before, Wyatt was the clear winner when it came to entertaining responses and embracing the mic.

One highlight: When asked why Wyatt loves football, he gave a blunt, honest answer.

“Because you get to hit,” he said with inflection in his voice. “I can’t just get off this podium right now and hit one of y’all (reporters). I’d go straight to jail. But I just like to have fun. You get to meet new guys, their families, kids. There’s a lot of connection, networking and fun.”

Expect Wyatt, whose play matches the energy at the podium, to be one of the several Bulldogs defenders taken in the first round.

Ohio State receivers looking good again

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day was wandering the halls at the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday. He’s been a popular man for teams in the receiver market. Ohio State receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave logged 4.38 and 4.39 40 times, respectively, and they’ll soon join the long list of Buckeyes wideouts in the NFL.

Both players are expected to go in the first round. The only question is how high. After Olave showed his speed, there’s a chance both could be top 15 to 20 selections. From the Falcons perspective, either player could be an option if the team trades down from No. 8.

Zion Johnson impresses

Boston College guard/center Zion Johnson did 32 reps in the bench press Friday and had the audience buzzing. Johnson’s power translates on the field, where he’s mauled defenders alongside fellow prospect Alec Lindstrom.

The 6-foot-3, 312-pound Johnson already was a late first-round prospect, and he only helped his case Friday. Connecticut defensive tackle Travis Jones, who’s 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, said earlier in the day Johnson was his toughest matchup at the Senior Bowl.

The AJC at the NFL scouting combine

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