The first wave of free agency came and went, and the Falcons have made a number of small moves to shore up depth on the roster. Additions like safety Erik Harris, running back Mike Davis and cornerback Fabian Moreau could challenge for starting spots and give the team more flexibility in the draft. Other signings like lead running backs Brandon Copeland and Barkevious Mingo and the trade for tight end Lee Smith have filled in some of the team’s most troublesome depth points.
The Falcons are likely to add yet a few more players in free agency; the offensive line and quarterback in particular seem to be the positions to aim for, but now we have a clearer picture of what the roster will look like heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. That means it’s time for another mock 7-round draft for Atlanta!
Interested in my previous mock drafts? You can see them below:
Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 17 | Low season 1.0 | Low season 2.0 | Low season 3.0
For this mock draft scenario, we’ll be making a commitment to Matt Ryan for at least the next two seasons, which makes sense considering the maximum restructuring the Falcons just did to his contract. With the fourth overall pick up for grabs, how far does Atlanta want to change and who could they target early in the draft?
As always, I’ll be using The Draft Network’s mock eraser machine to complete this simulation.
TRADE – Round 1, Pick 6: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The Falcons trade pick 4 to the Eagles for picks 6, 70 (3rd) and 84 (3rd).
With Atlanta deciding to stick with Matt Ryan, they accept multiple calls for the fourth overall pick. Denver and San Francisco are keen to get promoted by QB Trey Lance, the last of the best quarterbacks left after Lawrence, Wilson and Fields went 1-2-3, but the Falcons don’t want to go as far. far. Instead, they make a deal to lose two spots to the Eagles, who also want to be aggressive in their pursuit of their QB of the future. It works for both parties: Philadelphia doesn’t need to give up premium resources for a top QB prospect, and the Falcons get a couple additional Day 2 picks without breaking the ranks of top non-QB prospects.
With Penei Sewell off the board for the Bengals at 5, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is easily the pick at 6. There has been a lot of smoke around the Falcons and Pitts lately, and the team is rumored to be very keen on acquiring serves. . . It’s an adjustment that makes perfect sense: Arthur Smith is one of the most TE-focused coaches in the league, as the Titans led the NFL in 12 sets (2 TE) and were among the league leaders in TE goals in 2020. It’s rare to see a TE made fun of in the top 10, but Pitts is a very rare talent in his own right.
Pitts would give Atlanta perhaps the league’s most dynamic tight end and a potentially elite offensive weapon. It doesn’t fill a major need – the team has Hayden Hurst, after all, who is a quality starter – but if new general manager Terry Fontenot is serious about BPA, he could argue that Pitts is the best. A grouping of 12 staff members from Julio, Ridley, Pitts and Hurst would present terrible fighting problems for the vast majority of NFL defenses. It doesn’t fix Atlanta’s defensive woes, but if the team can score more than 30 points per game in 2016, it might not matter.
Round 2, Pick 35: OL Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
Speaking of scoring more than 30 points per game, adding an elite weapon in TE won’t be enough to get you there. The Falcons have to fix an offensive line that was mostly average in 2020, and they do so by selecting Michigan offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield. Mayfield played tackle in college and was very good there, but he has a much higher ceiling as a guard in the NFL. He’s the size (6’5,320) to succeed anywhere and he’s an impressive athlete for his stature. Mayfield has limited exit experience, but his technical refinement is impressive for a two-year starter.
The transition to guard can take time and some growing pains, but Mayfield is simply the best offensive lineman available right now and dramatically raises the level of talent up front in Atlanta. His versatility at tackle is also valuable if injuries strike or Kaleb McGary falters in the coming seasons.
Round 3, Pick 68: S Jevon Holland, Oregon
After the addition of Erik Harris, who is a natural strong safety, in free agency, the Falcons can turn their attention to a shock-free safety in the draft. The 2021 NFL Draft features a deep class, particularly on Day 2, and Atlanta has a chance to add one of the most intriguing names in the class: Oregon safety Jevon Holland. Holland is a versatile safety prospect who has the size (6’1,200) and the athleticism to play anywhere in high school.
Holland played a number of roles in Oregon, including single stop, box safety, split zones, and even slot cornerback. His ability as a chess piece makes him a natural fit in Dean Pees’ defense, where safeties are expected to be somewhat interchangeable. Holland’s reach is excellent, as are his covering instincts and weightlifting skills. He’s also a dependable running defender who rarely misses tackles, an important trait for a safety. Holland is an immediate starter who can have an impact from day one on Atlanta’s new defense.
Round 3, Pick 70: EDGE Hamílcar Rashed Jr., State of Oregon
Beak acquired from the Eagles.
The Falcons have beefed up their depth on the edge quite a bit over the past two weeks, adding reliable veterans in Brandon Copeland and Barkevious Mingo to the rotation with Dante Fowler Jr. They still need an impact player versus Fowler, who the team depends on for improvement. in 2021, and they get one at Oregon State’s Amílcar Rashed Jr. Rashed Jr. is an ideal player in multiple defense for Dean Pees, as he has experience lining up in a variety of positions, including 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE, and even 4-3 LB off the ball.
Rashed Jr. has the quality size (6’3, 254) and outstanding athleticism of a potential NFL starter. His engine doesn’t stop as a pass rusher and race stuffer, and he will attempt to chase plays from the other side of the formation without hesitation. Rashed Jr. needs technical development, particularly in terms of his rushing repertoire (which is fairly limited), but he’s a tremendous asset at this point in the draft. I can’t wait to see what Dean Pees can do with a player like Rashed Jr.
Round 3, Pick 84: RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
Beak acquired from the Eagles.
Even after the signing of former Panthers running back Mike Davis, the Falcons need an injection of talent at the position. Davis, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison are a solid trio in need of an electric playmaker, and that’s exactly what Atlanta gets in Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell. What Gainwell lacks in ideal size (5’11, 191) he makes up for in athletics. He’s a dynamic presence in both the running and passing game with RB1 potential in the NFL.
Gainwell needs to add weight to a lean body (10 pounds or more to get to 200 would be huge), but he’s an electric playmaker and arguably the best receiver in the class. He was so good in this area that he routinely lined up in the slot at Memphis, where he demonstrated advanced career skills en route for the position. Gainwell would be a perfect fit in Atlanta, where he could begin his career as part of a committee with Davis and Ito Smith before finally assuming the running back role in a year or two.
TRADE – Round 3, Pick 91: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
The Falcons traded picks 108 (fourth), 182 (fifth) and 183 (fifth) to Cleveland for the 91st pick.
The Falcons addressed the safety position with Jevon Holland early in the draft, but the cornerback remains a significant need. With potential starters going fast, Atlanta packs up its fourth round and its two fifth-round comps to jump to the end of the third round for Stanford CB Paulson Adebo. Adebo put together some quality tape during the 2019 season before opting out in 2020, which greatly affected his actions due to the emergence of other prospects.
Adebo has a prototypical size for the outside of 6’1,190 and is a quality athlete. He’s versatile and capable of playing both men’s and zone coverage. Adebo’s ball skills are also excellent, and he is a strong competitor at the catch point. However, Adebo is not impressive as a running defender and needs to show more “want” as a tackler. He’ll have to answer questions about his physique, but if the Falcons think they can make him play harder on Dean Pees defense, it could be a steal this late in Day 2.
Round 5, Pick 148: WR Seth Williams, Auburn
The Falcons have a trio of quality wide receivers and added a potentially elite weapon at tight end in Kyle Pitts, but outside of Julio Jones there is a distinct lack of size at WR. At this point in the draft, it was hard to pass up the value of Auburn’s Seth Williams here in the fifth round. At 6’2, 224, Williams has excellent size and physique for an NFL-level outside receiver.
Williams has outstanding hands and is a dominant presence at the meeting point. His physique makes him very difficult to handle in the red zone, and he can excel in this area at the NFL level. Williams has quality long speed, but his lateral agility is pretty average. Your success will be based on your physical gifts and your size, as you are not good at separating with your routes. At worst, Williams can be a red zone and possession specialist who also plays a key role on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 187: DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
The Falcons managed to bring back Tyeler Davison after he agreed to a pay cut, eliminating the need for an immediate starter at nose tackle off the table. However, a more traditional 3-4 1 / 0T may be a better long-term fit in Dean Pees’ defense, and Davison’s contract is easy to beat in 2022. Fortunately, there are some notable nose tackles that should be available later. . in draft, as BYU’s Khyiris Tonga.
Tonga is a massive space eater at 6’4,322. Unsurprisingly from its size, Tonga is an exceptional running defender. He has experience playing 1 and 0 technology, and can make two slots and take on double teams effectively. Tonga relies on his strength and career to create pressure on passing plays, but he is adequate in this area. He’s unlikely to ever offer much as a pass-rusher, but he can be a long-term starter like NT for the Falcons. In the sixth round, that’s a good value.
Round 6, Pick 217: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
At this point in the draft, the Falcons are looking to add the best available player to their roster. The wide receiver class of 2021 is deep and talented, and a very good player is still on the board at the end of the sixth round in Ihmir Smith-Marsette of Iowa. I have made fun of Smith-Marsette in Atlanta several times because he adapts well suited to his needs: he’s a good size at 6’2, 186, he’s a tremendous athlete and offers skill as a devolut.
Smith-Marsette was not used to all his talent in Iowa, so his production has been surprisingly low. It also showed some character concerns that will require an investigation: Smith-Marsette was arrested in 2020 for drunk driving and speeding. If the Falcons think they can get their heads straight, Smith-Marsette could be an outright steal at this point in the draft. And if you can’t pull it off, all it took you to risk was picking 217. It’s a gamble worth taking.
What are your thoughts on this mock draft scenario for the Falcons? Share your comments and your own mock drafts below!