Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft
By: Omar Gómez (@NFLDraftNerd)
For a team that has reached the playoffs on such a consistent basis, Atlanta has a lot of holes to fill. Thomas Dimitroff has shown expertise handling the cap room and acquiring talent through the draft. A couple of big free agency names have been added in previous years, but do not expect that to be the case now that Matt Ryan will be entering his contract year. Accuracy must pervade throughout the Chess game Dimitroff will play during the draft.
First Round (30th overall): Margus Hunt DE SMU: Thomas Dimitroff usually stays away from inexperienced, yet athletic prospects because he loves high-character guys with whom you you know what you will get. However, at 30th overall many prospects that fit that mold and still have a chance to heavily contribute might be already gone. In 2011, Dimitroff felt like the talent he would be getting at 26th overall would be too little if he wanted to draft a safe prospect, so he traded up to get his stud. This time, however, it will not be so easy to trade up because all the needs this team has. Consequently, the only way of obtaining the level of talent this team requires at the defensive end position, might be taking a raw, but super-athletic prospect.
Second Round: Gavin Escobar TE San Diego State: The Falcons will be lucky to land Gavin Escobar so late, but given the strong tight end class of 2013, it is definitely a possibility. The great Tony González will most likely be gone for next year, so a successor has to be found. Gavin Escobar is great getting separation and uses his size and athleticism well to make the reception when he does not get that separation. He is a nice end-zone threat.
Third Round: Mike Gillislee RB Florida: Michael Turner seemed to be done for the most part of last season. In his relieve, Jacquizz Rodgers did not show he can carry the lead of a three down role in the NFL. Quizz is a good third down weapon, but someone must be acquired to complement him on early down. Mike Gillislee projects as a great fit for what Atlanta likes out of its running backs. He runs with good vision to attack to hole, and has underrated ability to run between the tackles. Once he is on the second level, he displays good balance on his cuts.
Fourth Round: Jordan Mills OT Louisiana Tech: Sam Baker improved this past season, but did not show the level to suggest he can be any more than an average starter in the NFL. If possible, he should be re-signed on a short-term contract. Some competition for him and Lamar Houston should be brought as well. Jordan Mills is a similar (and better) prospect than Lamar Houston was last year. He is really athletic and has really good pass protection skills, especially when he wins the first contact. He played right tackle for Louisiana Tech last year, but I believe he projects better as a left tackle in the NFL.
Fifth round: Ace Sanders WR South Carolina: Harry Douglas has not shown much as a slot receiver and an offensive weapon in general. With the success guys like Percy Harvin and Randall Cob have had recently, elusive, do-it-all wide receivers have become more of a hot commodity. Atlanta would love to have one of their own. Ace Sanders is one of the most electric prospects with the ball on his hands in the 2013 NFL draft. He would give a whole new dimension to an already powerful offense. He could also work as a returner, which is a something the Falcons definitely need.
Sixth Round: Jeff Baca OG UCLA: Todd McClure was still quite serviceable last year, but he will be a free agent. He will probably get resigned, but the Falcons may want to spend a late round pick on a potential successor. Depth is also needed at guard, so this pick would make a lot of sense. Jeff Baca is the type of prospect Thomas Dimitroff usually likes. He is a high-character guy with good leadership. He is not very athletic in the run game, but he is very intelligent and instinctive in pass protection.
Seventh Round: Nathan Stanley QB South East Louisiana: A lot depend on how confident the Falcons are on Dominique Davis to fit their system in case Matt Ryan goes down. It would be a good idea to bring some depth at quarterback, even if the Falcons like Davis. A Shrine Game week stand-out, Nathan Stanley possesses good accuracy, and football IQ. He could improve his poise in the pocket though.