Written by: Joe Carlino @joecarlino14
It’s almost time for the 2020 NFL Draft, everyone. For three days, 256 men will be glued to their phones hoping to receive a phone call from one of the 32 clubs and then hear their name announced by commissioner Roger Goodell. Around this time, mock drafts are released with every name in the book attempting to accurately predict which team will select <insert name here>. The Falcons are no different, as they’re working through some free agency decisions and the release of their new uniforms this month with trying to figure out the newest members of the “Brotherhood”. So why not mock the Falcons and see who’s joining the ranks? Side note: this is my first ever mock draft of any kind, so feel free to sound off on Twitter whether or not I’m right or wrong.
Let the mock commence!
Falcons needs: EDGE, LB, CB, OL/DL
Falcons Picks: R1 (16th overall), R2 (47th overall), R3 (78th overall), R4 (119th and 143rd overall), R7 (228th overall)
Round One Pick: CB CJ Henderson (Florida)
Analysis: This pick is honestly the hardest because of two reasons. First off, the Falcons need some extra help in the pass rush game after signing Dante Fowler and they need massive help in the secondary after cutting Desmond Trufant. Personally, I think Atlanta would be better off selecting LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson as his motor and ability to set the edge is astonishing. However, the team recently let Vic Beasley walk, and he was a Clemson product selected in the first round, so I’m wondering if the team will try to right a wrong. However, the safer bet here is to address the secondary by selecting the second-best cornerback in the draft. Henderson stands at 6’1”, weighs 204 lbs., and has the agility and athleticism to stay connected to routes. One negative about him currently is that he’s not the best with tackling either in coverage or in the open field, so that might bring some concerns to other teams. But Dan Quinn is known for getting the best out of defenses when he’s really focused on them, and his experience at Florida combined with Fowler and strong safety Keanu Neal will be incredibly beneficial to Henderson. Atlanta replaces Trufant early and effectively here.
Round Two Pick: RB J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State)
Analysis: Another tough decision considering who the Falcons have in their backfield core. After signing Todd Gurley to a one-year deal, he now is the lead back ahead of guys like Brian Hill, Ito Smith, and Qadree Ollison, who have all been in the franchise for at least two years each and has contributed in various spots throughout the season. However, the team does want to have a clear-cut back in place should the Gurley experiment either fail (thus confirming the fears of most) or exceed expectations, leading to him going elsewhere in 2021. Dobbins in 2019 bounced back from his 2018 season and also showcases a style of running which slightly emanates former back Devonta Freeman, who was small but always fought for every yard he could. Dobbins could come in and be a viable starter in a couple of years, but him being selected by Atlanta means their backfield will be: Gurley at RB1, Dobbins at RB2, and Hill at RB3 with Ollison and Smith fighting for the RB4.
Round Three Pick: CB Troy Pride, Jr. (Notre Dame)
Analysis: Pride is an interesting pick for the Falcons. He’s got the speed and athleticism to make it in the pros, especially considering he was part of the Fighting Irish’s track team and set the best times in the 60 and 200-meter dash. And against the Clemson Tigers, who he turned down an offer to play for, he only gave up two catches for 12 yards. Given that Atlanta’s cornerback group features Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, and Damontae Kazee, the team is going to need to bolster this group, and while he’s not the tallest player at the position (he’s only 5’11”), he could be effective in nickel or dime packages while rotating with the core members of the team.
Round Four Pick (119th): LB Joe Bachie, Jr. (Michigan State)
Analysis: Coming out of Michigan State, Bachie provides a boost in the zone schemes Quinn likes to run with his defenses. He had two seasons with at least 100 tackles and was a third-team All-Big Ten recipient. However, because his final season saw him on the sidelines due to a failed PED test, his ceiling probably won’t be as high as many probably would’ve considered (late Day Two pick). Because of this, he drops down to Round Four, and Atlanta picks him up after losing De’Vondre Campbell to provide some minor assistance with Deion Jones, Fowler, and Foyesade Oluokun manning the front.
Round Four Pick (143rd): IOL Michael Onwenu (Michigan)
Analysis: The Falcons offensive line has been a major problem in the last two years, as evidenced by how Matt Ryan has been sacked a whopping 90 times. Because of this, they’ve put so much money into trying to fortify this area, even drafting Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the first round of last year’s draft. While both weren’t as effective as many would’ve wanted due to early-season injuries, they were pretty dominant in the back half of the year when the team railed off four straight wins. Onwenu will almost undoubtedly be selected for one reason: to provide some extra backup just in case of another injury. It’s not the most effective decision, but it’s a late one that doesn’t come with too much risk.
Round Seven Pick: IDL Raequan Williams (Michigan State)
Analysis: Like his fellow teammate and fourth-round mock selection in Baccie, Williams in 2019 played to the level of being recognized as a third-team All-Big Ten selection. Also, a nice touch about him: he risked draft position to at least finish his academic career at MSU, and I can respect that decision because it’s not very common to see players stay to finish. Rather, they’ll declare early, play a few years, and either complete the remaining classes online during the offseason or wait until they’re retired to earn the degree. Getting back to his position, the Falcons defensive interior currently is Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison, but not much after that. According to the team, the plan all along was to turn last year’s fourth-round selection John Cominsky into an interior lineman, and it’s all but evident that they’ve given up on Deadrin Senat for reasons that aren’t easily available to the media or scouts. He gets selected on Day Three and might be a camp body/practice squad member, but it’s possible that he could see some game time if the injury bug continues to pile up in the ATL.