Pre-Draft Roster Review Part 2

01-trenches

In the Trenches and Beyond

by Michael Chastain / just “little ole” me

The 2018 Draft is less than a week away. In part two of the series we will be looking at the Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, and Offensive Line. Who will the front office select for us to cheer for and or complain about? Will a player from one of these three positions even be selected in the draft or will the team only add Undrafted Rookies to the mix? Let us look at where the roster currently stands and what might happen in the near future.

03-trenches

Trench mud is good.

Wide Receiver:

Starters: Julio Jones, Moe Sanu – Julio is going to be Matt Ryan’s number one for years! Sanu came in and played much better than I expected during his two seasons in Atlanta. His production should continue to improve this season as he improves the chemistry with Ryan.

Backups: Justin Hardy, Marvin Hall, Devin Fuller, Reggie Davis – Hardy has been a 20 reception player each of the three years he has worn the red and black. He could possible see an increase in targets in 2018 depending on how he competes and what other receivers are brought in during the off-season. Hall was activated in mid-October this past season. In his first game he had a 40 yard reception for a touchdown. The rest of the season was very quiet for him. He finished the year with nine targets and only two receptions. Fuller spent the past two seasons on injured reserve with a shoulder injury(2016) and torn ACL(July 2017). If he is finally healthy look for him to compete for time in the slot position and as the teams main return man. He averaged 24.2 yards on kickoff returns and 11.8 yards on punt returns in college and is a slot type receiver who can win speed matchups with safeties and linebackers. Davis spent the entire 2017 season on the Falcon’s practice squad. He has an uphill battle to make the team in 2018.

Expectations: With the loss of Taylor Gabriel and Andre Roberts in free agency, Atlanta now has an opening for a slot receiver and a kick returner. The team had publicly said that they want current players on the roster to compete for those spots, but to think that they will not bring in any other competition is foolish. The team does not have the cap space to sign any veterans to much more that the minimum salary. So look for a receiver to be drafted and a high number of undrafted rookies signed to increase competition. If these options do not work out then expect the team to sign a player that gets cut during the preseason or even trade for a veteran receiver close to the beginning of the season. If the salary cap will allow it!

Draft Options: There is a rare chance that Atlanta selects a receiver in the first round, but it is doubtful. There has not been a single draft under Coach Quinn when an offensive player was selected in the first or even second round. It is much more likely that a receiver could be the choice in the third round or later. A variety of options that should be available throughout the draft are: Christian Kirk, Michael Gallup, Tre’Quan Smith, Deontay Burnette, Trey Quinn, Justin Watson, and Jonah Trinnaman.

Christian Kirk was the only player in the SEC in 2017 to return both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. On offense he played almost exclusively in the slot position. He uses his speed to take the top off defenses. He average 12.3 yards per receptions during his college career. Kirk is an elusive receiver who forced 35 missed tackles on 233 receptions. He will be a day one starter in the Slot and in the return game. Kirk may be off the board by the time Atlanta picks at #26, but he would be an instant upgrade to the roster.

Michael Gallup is the highest graded receiver according to Pro Football Focus. He was one of the nation’s most productive receivers over the past two seasons. Gallup knows how to create separation with his route running skill and with his hands. This super competitive player is willing to block downfield and gives the extra effort at the end of the play. He projects as a day two selection. It is doubtful that he will still be on the board when Atlanta picks at number 90 in the third round.

Tre’Quan Smith does a great job tracking and high pointing the ball. He has had some spectacular one handed catches and uses his exceptional wing span and leaping ability to get over defenders. Smith is a very willing blocker in the run game. He had over 40 receptions of 20+ yards during his college career. In 2017 over 75% of his receptions resulted in first downs. He received AAC all academic honors. Needs to improve against press coverage and field awareness. Smith is a very coachable player who only played two years of HS football. Most projections have him being selected between rounds three and five. There is a chance he could still be on the board in the fourth round when the Falcons pick number 126 is on the clock.

Deontay Burnette is considered by many scouts to be more quick than fast. His thin frame may not hold up to a NFL beating, but he is not afraid to go over the middle. After the catch he is good with the ball and can make people miss. He has experience in the return game. Many project him as a typical NFL slot receiver. On the third day is likely when he will be drafted, but there is a chance he could go late on the second day if a team falls in love with him.

Trey Quinn is a player in the mold of Wes Welker. He’s an inside receiver that catches everything. This resulted in him leading the nation with 114 receptions in 2017. That’s not even his greatest accomplishment. In the 2008 Little League World Series he threw a no-hitter. Some consider him to be a one year wonder, but that is no fault of his own. He spent his first two years of college in LSU’s run heavy offense where he was second on the team in receptions during 2014. After his sophomore season he transferred to SMU to play in their pass heavy offense. 2017 was Quinn’s first year on the field at SMU and he exceled in their pass happy style of play. Quinn has some wiggle to his game, but many times he will look to punish defenders after making the reception. He has some experience as a returner, but may not have the speed to be a successful at the NFL level. Current projections have him being drafted in the middle of day three. There is a slight chance that he will be on the board when Atlanta picks in the sixth round.

Justin Watson has all the measurables of a NFL receiver at 6’2” 215 pounds. He ran in the mid 4.4s in the 40 yard dash, put up 20 reps on the bench, and jumped 40” in the vertical on his Pro Day. His college stats back up his athletic measurable, but he played football in the Ivy League. So not only is he athletic, but he is intelligent. According to his Coaches he has a first in last out work ethic. Watson had over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his last three seasons. He is currently projected as a sixth round draft pick, but do not be surprised if he comes off the board much earlier.

Jonah Trinnaman is pure speed. He posted a sub 4.3 40 yard dash at BYU’s Pro Day. Prior to the Pro Day he was an undrafted rookie free agent at best. Since then he has been getting more buzz and looks from NFL teams. He has the ability to take the top off the defense and keep special teams coaches up at night as a kick returner. He is still projected as a day three selection at best. He would be a steal if selected in the seventh round.

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Wallace Francis

Tight Ends:

Starters: Austin Hooper – Headed into his third season he still has numerous areas of his game that need significant improvement! He has been working with Matt Ryan this offseason, but will that be enough to make him an impact player?

Backups: Eric Saubert, Logan Paulsen, Alex Gray – Saubert was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Drake. He spent the 2017 season as a blocking Tight End and Special Teams player. A back injury sidelined him for part of the season. He will need to make major improvements in his game to be much more that a bench warmer in 2018. Paulsen was brought in to take over the primary Tight End blocking duties. His presents should help to improve the run game, with a minor contribution in the passing game. Gray is part of the NFL Europe program so he doesn’t count against the roster, but he is a developmental player and camp body at best.

Expectations: A second starting quality tight end was needed for Coach Sarkisian’s system. So the team signed Logan Paulsen who is better known for his blocking than his receiving ability. There were a couple of years where he had over 20 receptions. He is a temporary stop gap and not the long term solution. The young guys on the roster are going to compete for their spots against any other Tight Ends who are brought into camp. There is a chance that the team could draft a Tight End, but with all the other more pressing needs it is doubtful that a Tight End selection will be made before day three. Does the team really need another developmental Tight End, or will the team make a surprise pick earlier in the draft?

Draft Options: The top end of this year’s Tight End crop are strong receivers, but none are the complete package. Teams drafting Tight Ends are going to have to choose between a receiving or blocking Tight End. Some of the prospects have the potential to become complete, but they all have areas that are going to require significant work. Here are some possibilities at the position: Dallas Goedert, Chris Herndon, Jordan Thomas, and Jeb Blazevich.

Dallas Goedert would be a surprise pick for the team in the first or possibly second round if they traded down. I doubt he will still be on the board at pick number 58 in the second round. He has all the attributes of a quality Tight End along with great production. The question is can he replicate that production at the NFL level after playing in the FCS. He is a mismatch guy that averaged 8.2 yards after the catch. While he excelled against FCS opponents, he also played very well against FBS opponents. His blocking will need work, but he is considered by many to be the best Tight End in the class. Look for him to be one of the first three Tight Ends off the board.

Chris Herndon played behind 2017 first round selection David Njoku the first three years of his college career. He has lined up all over the field, inline, out wide, as an H-Back, and in the backfield. This versatility will be an asset moving to the NFL. For teams that want to occasionally put a player in the Fullback spot on the field, but do not want to roster a full time Fullback, Herndon is an option worth considering. He has the athletic ability to be productive at the NFL level. Some teams may shy away from him due to the MCL injury he sustained in November. If not for the injury he would be a solid day two selection. He is currently considered to be an early day three prospect.

Jordan Thomas is a big boy Tight End. He was 265 pounds at his Pro Day, but has played as heavy as 280 pounds. He is very athletic for his size and will be a match-up nightmare for most defenses. He is quicker than most Line Backers and big enough to truck most Defensive Backs. Thomas has spent significant time lined up out wide due to injuries to a number of Mississippi State’s other receivers. He is a decent blocker, be he needs to continue to work on improving that aspect of his game. If he does not pan out as a Tight End he could possibly be moved to Defensive End where his combination of size and speed could be utilized on the defensive front. Thomas is currently projected to be a day three selection. Most like being drafted during rounds five or six.

Jeb Blazevich could be the sleeper in this year’s Tight End draft class. As a freshman at UGA he was awarded “Newcomer of the Year” after putting up over 250 receiving yards and blocking for Running Backs Gurley and Chubb. When the offense changed in 2016 all Georgia Tight Ends saw a major dip in their role as receivers. Blazevich spent his final two college seasons blocking in Jim Chaney’s offense. He has spent a great deal of his college time blocking for UGA’s running game and has the ability to be a receiving threat. Many scouts see him as an undrafted free agent, but he will be a steal for some team in the seventh round.

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Alge Crumpler

Offensive Line:

Starters: Jake Mathews, Andy Levitre, Alex Mack, Brandon Fusco, Ryan Schraeder – The team is returning four of the five players who started every game in 2016 and most of 2017! Mack is the rock in the middle of the line. Mathews and Levitre are in the final year of their contracts. The unit as a whole took a step back in 2017 due to injuries and subpar play from the Right Guard position and the back-ups. Fusco was brought in during free agency to take over the Right Guard position in 2018. He played well during the 2017 season and should have an easy transition into Atlanta’s offensive scheme with its similarities to the offense Kyle Shannahan runs in San Francisco.

Backups: Wes Schweitzer, Ben Garland, Sean Harlow, Austin Pasztor, Ty Sambrailo, Jamil Douglas, Daniel Brunskill – Schweitzer was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft and took over the starting right guard position in 2017. He failed to meet expectations grading out as “Poor” by Pro Football Focus. Schweitzer’s poor play led to the signing of Fusco. Garland played well as the main back-up in 2016, but failed to match the same level of play in 2017. He is a versatile lineman who has also played on the defensive line. He was resigned to a one year deal for 2018. Harlow was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He was on the 53 man roster, but did not see any game time this past season. Pasztor was signed before the season in 2017. He played in seven games as a backup at OG and OT. Sambrailo was the prize from the front office’s SNAFU (trade) of this year’s fifth round pick to Denver. He started two games when Schrader was out and allowed the highest percentage of Quarterback pressures of any Lineman on the team. If he fails to perform during camp this year there will not be any dead money when he is cut. Douglas played both Guard and Left Tackle in college. He was drafted by Miami where he was pressed into duty at Center when Mike Pouncy was injured. He played poorly during his six starts his rookie year. Since then most of his time has been spent on practice squads for New England and Atlanta. He is a camp body that will have to work his way into a roster spot. Brunskill was signed as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2017 season. He spent the season on Atlanta’s practice squad. He is undersized for a Tackle (257 lbs), but has been training at Tight End.

Expectations: Last spring Thomas Dimtroff said that he wanted to improve the Offensive Line. If the play of the Line is any indication of his ability to improve the Line, then the fan base should not expect much better for the 2018 season. With the team’s current salary cap situation and the number of starters that will become free agents at the end of the 2018 season the team needs to have viable players behind the current starters. Otherwise the Offensive Line could have drastic changes after the 2018 season.

Draft Options: Any selection made for the Offensive Line is most likely going to be a selection for the future. A first round selection at Guard or Tackle would be a surprise as there are more pressing needs for the upcoming season. Some options throughout the draft include: Isaiah Wynn, Frank Ragnow, Jamarco Jones, Wyatt Teller, and Will Clapp.

Isaiah Wynn could come off the board before the Falcon’s first round selection, but he has experience at Guard and Tackle. He was All-SEC first team in 2017. He is projected to play Guard in the NFL, but he excelled at Tackle during UGA’s National Championship run in 2017. He could play immediately at Guard in 2018 then transition to Tackle if the team is unable to resign Mathews. Wynn will be drafted in the first round.

Frank Ragnow has been flying under the radar for most of the pre-draft process. He has been the highest graded Center in college the past two seasons per Pro Football Focus. He did not allowed a Quarterback sack in over 2,600 snaps. He can play the Guard position as well as he plays Center. He could fill a need at Guard while preparing to become the heir at Center for when Alex Mack calls it a career. Ragnow is currently projected to be selected on day two. Atlanta would need to select him with their second round pick. It is doubtful that he will last long into the third round.

Jamarco Jones is an NFL ready Tackle with good form in pass protection. He has long arms and good play strength. He has improved every year at the college level and should continue to do so in the NFL under good coaching. He missed half his senior year due to injury. His subpar showing at the combine has dropped him on a number of team’s draft boards which will make him a gem for some team during the middle of the draft. Projections have him coming off the board sometime between rounds three and five.

Wyatt Teller was recruited as a Defensive End. After his redshirt freshman year the coaching staff moved him over to the Offensive Line. He did not lose the aggressive play that made him a standout on defense when he switched sides of the ball. He is a nasty Lineman that has incorporated his defensive skills into his offensive position. Hard worker on and off the field. Draft projections have him all over the place. If a team falls in love with him he could come off the board on day two. It is more likely that he is drafted sometime on day three.

Will Clapp played well at both Center and Guard at LSU. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in play strength. He may be better suited for a power running scheme, but has proven that he is not a liability in the passing game. His high football IQ will help his stock. Look for him to come off the board sometime in the middle of day three.

The front office may not see any of these three positions as heavy needs for this year’s team, but without them the future is in question. The draft will show if they believe that the team’s success in 2018 will be more dependent on current players improving or if adding players to improve these positions is what is needed.

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Jeff Van Note

Questions for thought:

Can the team improve from 2017 with the current players on the roster? If so who do you see stepping up? If not, rank each of these three positions prioritizing the greatest need.

Do you think the team will resign OT Mathews and/or OG Levitre? Do you think they should?

Is the future of the Offensive Line going in the wrong direction?

How do you feel about the team’s current TE situation?

Do you truly believe that Coach Quinn will let the current Receivers on the roster compete for the starting slot position, or will the team bring in a player who will have to “lose” the position to the current players?

02-trenches

Favre in the trenches.

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105 thoughts on “Pre-Draft Roster Review Part 2

  1. Arno

    Thanks for all the work, jlom.
    I’m perplexed with the TE situation. So much investment already in the draft and playing time with Hooper. But the need is still glaring. Did Gonzalez spoil us?

    Reply
    1. just "little ole" me

      TD has drafted five TEs during his tenure in Atlanta. None of them have ever been even close to a top ten quality TE. I would say that YES TG88 spoiled us, but Alge Crumpler was a better TE than what we have rostered now. I am also still irritated that TE George Kittle went to the 49ers in the 5th round. I still believe that he would have been the answer at TE. I also believe that AJ Derby who was waived injured from the Broncos last season and picked up by Miami would be a drastic improvement, but I am am just a lowly high school coach, what do I know.

      Reply
    2. JB Falcon

      I believe the FO has high expectations of Hooper and also agree that Tony spoiled us. He was one of the greatest TE’s in the league and they don’t come along often, plus I believe the TE position is not being used properly.

      Reply
  2. ajarnbangkapi

    Excellent work as always, JLOM.
    Taking a shot at your questions –

    Can the team improve from 2017 with the current players on the roster? If so who do you see stepping up? If not, rank each of these three positions prioritizing the greatest need.
    Yes, as a team, unsure on the OL but doubtful, yes on TE as the young guys start to get it, Yes for WR as I HOPE the drops were an anomoly created by a new OC.

    Do you think the team will resign OT Mathews and/or OG Levitre? Do you think they should?
    Yep, TD is big on continuity.

    Is the future of the Offensive Line going in the wrong direction?
    I fear so, we need an infusion of high grade talent. Don’t see it happening.

    How do you feel about the team’s current TE situation?
    I think they have invested all they plan at this stage (including the FA signing of a blocking TE

    Do you truly believe that Coach Quinn will let the current Receivers on the roster compete for the starting slot position, or will the team bring in a player who will have to “lose” the position to the current players?
    Current players will have the upper hand.

    Reply
    1. just "little ole" me

      AB – I agree on the TE situation. I think we are stuck with what we have. I just don’t see how it will be possible to bring back even half the players that are up for new contracts in the near future. I crunched the numbers and even if MR2 gives a hometown discount and his cap number is 28 million with the addition of the next 8 highest salary cap numbers not including any other re-signings will only leave the team with 65 million in cap space,before they raise the cap ceiling, for the other 42 players that count against the cap. I have limited knowledge on how to manipulate the salary cap, but I don’t see how the core of the current roster is going to be kept on board.

      Reply
  3. Hamad Meander

    Ok, so I’m addicted to running mocks on Fanspeak. Here are my last two (I always set the simulation to “Difficult” to show how easy drafting solidly is):

    This one based on drafttek.com: 1. Maurice Hurst 2. Kolton Miller (yeah, I know!) 3. Josh Sweat 4. Tim Settle 6. Bo Scarborough 7. Dmitri Flowers 7. Taylor Hearn

    This one based on Walterfootball: 1. Calvin Ridley (there was a run on DT) 2. Maurice Hurst (yes, he was still there) 3.Harrison Phillips (yeah!) 4. Josh Sweat (love this guy) 6. Josey Jewell (cage fav) 7. Joe Notebloom 7. Tegray Scales.

    Players will fall, we don’t need to trade up for anything. I hope Flowery Branch runs mocks all day long to see that value can be had without trading away capital. We are soon to be in a dire situation with cap space with Beasley, Jarrett, Jones, and Neal coming up soon for big money contracts. Drafting well will help us retain veteran talent.

    Reply
    1. just "little ole" me

      HM – I have not used the Fanspeak mock drafting tool. If I did I would not get anything else done. It’s loads of fun to be able to control the improvements made to the roster! One of the things I like to do during the draft is make the pick for Atlanta before the selection is made based on who is on the board. It’s fun, but can be frustrating!

      Reply
      1. Hamad Meander

        Somehow I’ve limited myself to only two mock drafts today. I’m trying to MAGA by working. This week will be very distracting as I love draft week more than anything.

        Reply
  4. SG

    A+++ Arno / JLOM. Greatly appreciate the detailed research / insight / archival images.

    As for the questions, my answers are based on the belief this is the make it or break it year for a pretty phenomenal offense. That’s not in any way a swipe at the “shiney object” talent — instead, it’s the self-induced erosion of salary leeway that I feel will be setting the tone for the team’s future, post ‘18.

    Can the team improve w/ current players? Yes. Current OC? Possibly, with a miracle.
    Who’ll step up? Ryan, as always.

    Prioritizing needs:
    1) Trenches w/ Oline first.
    2) TE a pass catching / blocker to compliment the still budding Hooper that can open up space for current top 2 WRs.
    3) I’ve said previously that we had 3 good WRs last year that weren’t properly utilized, why waste a pick here?

    RE Mathews / Levitre: No commit beyond ‘18.

    RE The direction of the O Line: I’d love to see some long term commit to the O Line this year but doubt it will happen because, a) as you’ve pointed out Q drafts D in rounds 1&2, and b) he sees the linemen requiring a longer maturation period — which is another reason, IMO, that on draft days 1 and possibly thru 2, we won’t pick an O line guy — as they can’t, in Q’s eyes, immediately contribute to a SB birth / victory.

    RE WRs: They’ll probably be counter-intuitive to the SB or bust mindset and draft a mid-late round pick w/ a decent reel — (and then of course hope Sark has improved his game planning). If it was me I’d go into camp w/ what I’ve got and look what develops on the waiver wire as training / pre-season evolves.

    Reply
    1. just "little ole" me

      SG – Thanks!

      I agree with you on “the self-induced erosion of salary leeway” see my response to AB above.

      I am torn on the current WR situation. I don’t think a pick should be used there on day one or two, but I really like WR Justin Watson out of Penn. I doubt he will still be on the board late in the sixth round. He would be perfect for our fifth round pick, if we had one! 😦 I would reach for him in the fourth round, because I believe he can be that good!

      Just like every year I find there are more prospects I would like to draft than we have picks to draft them.

      Reply
  5. Flo-Ri-Duh

    jlom – TE, WR & OL. I’m one of the few that thinks it’s high time to upgrade the offense at all three positions. As you said, we do not need another mid-draft TE. Got plenty of backups. My personal fave at TE to the Falcons is someone they recently met with: Ian Thomas, Indiana, 6’5″ 248 lb. He needs work but has a high ceiling long-term as both a receiver and blocker. I expect him to go late 3rd Rd / early 4th Rd.

    Speaking bluntly, the Falcons have Julio & Sanu, both approaching age 30, and a few mediocre bench warmers. They desperately need another target for MR & there are several i this draft anywhere from the 2nd to 4th Rd that would be a major upgrade. D.J. Moore, Michael Gallup, & Anthony Miller are a few I like.

    I see OL being neglected once more in favor of DL & LB help. Maybe a late Rd (6th/7th) “project” at best. ’19 is when I see an upgrade to the OL.

    Excellent post & great graphics jlom / Arno.

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      Since Sark does not understand how to spread the field by running his WR deep, I don’t think it will matter much who we draft on the O side.

      Reply
    1. Hamad Meander

      Good to hear Flo-Ri – heading to Jacksonville tomorrow to make sure my dad is doing what he needs to do to stay out of the hospital.

      Reply
      1. Flo-Ri-Duh

        Hamad – Jax is blessed to have two excellent hospitals – St Vincents & the Mayo Clinic. I still have an echocardiogram planned for today and a follow up by cardiologist wed. I expect good news. I should begin my cardio rehab next week. Preventive medicine is something I strongly believe in. Good luck with your father’s health.

        Reply
  6. Paddy O

    Letting Toilolo go was this years DIMarco/ Hawley error. Toilolo was a useful part, now much be replaced. He should have been cheap to retain. Still a mystery why we do the O line on the cheap. But, we lost last year due to bad offense – a remarkable reality considering how lethal the O was in our SB run.

    Reply
    1. medallion

      While I agree Toilolo was useful, he wasn’t cheap to retain because “capmaster” Dimitroff signed Toilolo to an expensive multi-year contract before the 2017 season. Toilolo’s cut with a post June 1 (or 2 or whatever it is this year) spreads the dead money from Toilolo’s contract over two years and, as of this moment, the resulting cap savings for this year will become the primary source of the Falcons’ available cap space for signing free agents for money above the league minimum after June 1 (or 2 or whatever).

      Reply
  7. JB Falcon

    #Falcons WR Julio Jones has made his Twitter account private and removed all of his Falcons connections. Is it time to panic, Atlanta?

    Reply
  8. Dewey

    Excellent breakdown jlom. We’ll get you in that GM chair one day.

    I believe as constructed right now, the defense might take a small step back(thin in the middle of the Dline), the offense should take a small step forward(slightly solidified and upgraded the RG position). So, it could be a push overall.

    I don’t believe there’s any way Dimitroff let’s Jake go, unless Quinn just really insists on it. I don’t believe Levitre will be re-signed, but I don’t see his replacement being drafted this year. Should we re-sign them? We should draft possible replacements for them, if they work out, don’t re-sign either, at least we’d have options.

    I believe Quinn’s philosophy on Olinemen coming into the pros is a bit screwed up. Every rookie goes through a maturation period. Some players pick it up faster than others. Some don’t pick it up at all. Position has nothing to do with it. 15+ years ago, a rookie QB would never get to start his rookie season. Now it’s almost mandatory if a QB is drafted in the 1st round, he starts game#1. And they have much more to learn than other positions.

    I wasn’t certain of Hooper going into last season, and he didn’t do anything to impress me. With Julio and Sanu, we’re not going to have an 80+ receptions TE. I can live with 40-50 receptions if they mostly move the chains and at least a half dozen end up in the endzone. I wouldn’t be opposed to an upgrade.

    I don’t see the Falcons making a major move at WR. Maybe a mid to late round pick. Tons of UDFA’S. If Sark has a better grip on the offense this season, there’s no reason Hardy couldn’t be a competent #3, but using Julio and Sanu in the slot.

    Reply
    1. Hamad Meander

      Wow! Now that is the kind of draft week drama I wasn’t considering. If Julio is traded to NE for their first round picks, that would certainly make for an interesting Thursday night for the Falcons….. So with NE’s two picks, I go:

      23. Da’Ron Payne – DT – Alabama
      26. Will Hernandez – OG – UTEP
      31. Maurice Hurst – DT/DE – Michigan

      Bigs only.

      Reply
  9. medallion

    Thanks JLOM and Arno!
    But now you have me wrestling with that age old question: the chicken or the egg or, in modern football parlance, the offense or the defense?
    I had been leaning all defense (with a big trade down out of the first if possible) through the first four rounds unless some offensive player was too good to pass up.
    Now, I’m rethinking (even though I still want a big trade down out of the first if possible). On defense, it seems like the only position that absolutely must get drafted is one base DT that will play 20-40 of the defensive snaps per game as a rookie. The Falcons seem real high on NC State’s DT Hill and (from what I have read) he should still be available when we pick near the end of the second round.
    If so, the Falcons could go offense in rounds one, three, and four (if we can’t trade down and just pick where we are currently scheduled to pick.
    Lots to ponder.

    Reply
  10. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Dan Choate (thefalcoholic.com) discussed the Falcons top needs in this draft:
    #1) DT
    #2) WR
    #3) CB
    #4) LB
    #5) TE
    * FB would be next
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Reply
  11. Flo-Ri-Duh

    ….drafttek.com Mock Draft Falcons (4/24/18)…
    =====================================
    #1) Taven Bryan (DL3T), Florida, 6’4″ 290 lb.
    #2) D.J. Chark (WR), LSU, 6’3″ 187 lb.
    #3) B.J. Hill (DL1T), N.C. State, 6’3″ 311 lb.
    #4) Dorian O’Daniel (OLB), Clemson, 6’1″ 223 lb.
    #6) P.J. Hall (DL3T), SHSU, 6’1″ 308 lb.
    #7) Bentley Spain (OT), North Carolina, 6’6″ 300 lb.
    #7) Nick Bawden (FB), San Diego State, 6’3″ 245 lb.

    Reply
    1. Hamad Meander

      I could live with this. This is the only non-Cage mock that identifies the desparate need for (3) DT in the draft. And I like all three. I would argue another linebacker would be necessary as well, but there are only so many picks…..

      One thing I thought about last night is that Da’Ron Payne was used as a fullback at Alabama. He caught a TD vs. Clemson and caught an interception as well. Could we fill two needs with one guy?

      Reply
    2. medallion

      If we could get DT B.J. Hill with our pretty late 3rd round pick (#90), WS OLB O’Daniel with our pretty late 4th round pick (#126), and DT P.J. Hall with our pretty late 6th round pick, I would like that a lot for those picks. However, I think B.J. Hill will be gone before pick #90. My guess is that we have to maneuver into the fairly early 3rd to get B.J. Hill. Who knows for sure?
      Thanks for mentioning WR D.J. Chark. I keep forgetting about him when I think about WR prospects, but I shouldn’t. I think his light weight and his lack of production at LSU (maybe because of LSU’s run emphasis and QB limitations) will cause him to still be around in the mid to late 3rd. Chark is basically an outside receiver at this point in time, but he could fit well right now for the Falcons since the Falcons moved Sanu into the slot a lot when 3 wide receivers ere used and Hardy is basically a slot receiver. Another plus for Chark is his height. Matt Ryan likes tall receivers.
      I’ve never been a supporter of using a first round pick on DT Taven Bryan (or Alabama’s DT DaRon Payne).
      Were there any other good options for our 1st round pick in that Draftek simulation – like OG Wynn, OG Hernandez, either of the top ranked LBs, or someone else at some other position?

      Reply
    3. Flo-Ri-Duh

      I’ve been watching D.J. Chark (WR) at LSU and he’s VERY impressive (4.34 40 at combine). This kids a “big play” waiting to happen. Unfortunately, LSU’s OC and QB’s were awful in the passing game. I think with MR, JJ & Sanu, Chark would be a candidate for rookie of the year.

      Reply
  12. John Waynesworld

    I believe in the future, some form of this will be a popular pre-draft contest….but with CASH & PRIZES for us peasants…

    https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/4/23/17244330/think-youve-got-the-best-atlanta-falcons-mock-draft-out-there-prove-it

    So far, the football $$$ world hasn’t figured out that there are enough people doing mock drafts to actually get clicks & see ads (make money) on a national contest for every team. If they can properly organize and promote the contest (with sports icons playing too), the regular fans, in massive numbers, will participate. Getting folks to guess on non-local teams will really make it explode. Just a theory.

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      Bummer D3 – or another tech savvy Cage member – could not organize for Falcon fans; little odd AJC has not done so.

      Reply
      1. John Waynesworld

        It’s possible we could do it. I am only an “idea man” (put the mayo inside the tuna fish can!) and my organizational skills are best defined as “scrambling”. We need someone here to imagine a unique structure or format that isn’t like Fanspeak or a big clusterfluck like WalterFootball does it.

        The contest must be national and it must encourage people to mock other teams as well as their own (for the cash and prizes). It would exponentially increase the amount of entries (and clicks).

        Reply
        1. Paddy O

          slice the bread before you sell it ! A bit odd draft kings does not do some version of it – I’d only do Falcons

          Reply
  13. Flo-Ri-Duh

    ……………..Falcons Move Way Up in RD #1: 4/24/18…………….
    ===============================================
    TRADE: [Falcons #1 & #2] for Ravens [#1 (16th) & #5 (154th)]
    #1) Vita Vea (DL1T), Washington, 6’4″ 347 lb.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………….
    #3) Nathan Shepherd (DL3T), Ft Hayes State, 6’4″ 315 lb.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………….
    #4) Ian Thomas (TE), Indiana, 6’5″ 248 lb.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………….
    #5) Deontay Burnett (WRF), USC, 6’0″ 170 lb.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………….
    #6) Keke Coutee (WRS), Texas Tech, 5’11” 180 lb.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..
    #7) Marcell Ateman (WRF), Oklahoma State, 6’4″ 220 lb.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..
    #7) Matthew Thomas (ILB), Florida State, 6’3″ 232 lb.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Reply
    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      THREE OF FALCONS GREATEST WEAKNESSES BECOME STRENGTHS IN ABOVE DRAFT:
      #1 DT fixed for years to come
      #2) TE depth & talent level fixed for years to come
      #3) WR depth & talent vastly improved for years to come.

      Reply
      1. Flo-Ri-Duh

        Appreciat it Paddy O…. Ifound 3 WR’s I thought had a chance to make this team. Two of them have return skills also. Couldn’t find much at LB late Rd that I thought would stick on roster. Right now all I see behind JJ/Sanu is bench warmers. We need contributors. MR needs targets. When Sanu or JJ goes down – the offense is pathetic.

        Reply
  14. SG

    Maybe I’m coming across as the boy who cried wolf, but I’m confused that more of the national “experts”, – incl. the Drafteks of the prognosticating universe – don’t see a need to better protect a 32 yr old ‘I don’t care how durable he’s proven to be in the past’ QB.

    And I don’t care if Brady won a SB 4 or 5 years ago w/two 3rd stringers on his O-Line.

    I’ll also choose to ignore all the popular algorithms permeating cyber logic that seem to provide the excuses for failed human predictions.

    While we have some reasons to complain about certain coaching / FO inadequacies here, but we’ll never be able to complain about MR2’s guardian angel(s) given the often passable or sometimes just plain inept front we’ve put before him.

    Calling for a TE, a WR , etc., that’ll be good for years to come will really mean nothing when a ‘frequently over matched by young guns looking to prove themselves’ against an OLine that, w/ a couple of exceptions, can’t protect our franchise – yes, our franchise – for little more than a second should not be a tough decision at all.

    Reply
    1. Dewey

      The problem, as I see it, is Quinn has made his philosophy on draftable Olinemen well known. Although it makes sense to us to build a sustainable trench, it just doesn’t seem to be a priority to Quinn…and everybody knows it.

      Reply
      1. SG

        Agreed to the point that Q sold D as the winning element to Playoff success, ie. the heritage of Parcels and the more recent successes of the D minded Belichick in NE.

        My point is that given Q’s 3 years of developing a pretty much kick arse D – even with the substantial losses resulting from league / personal infractions, why the hesitance now to contribute improvement to, as a whole, a shallow line?

        In short, if I wasn’t a Falcons fan Med, but knew the conference talent, would I suggest on draft day, ignoring the O line if 32 yr old MR2 was FACING Jones, Tak, etc., twice a year ?

        Reply
          1. Dewey

            No worries SG.
            There’s no reason, in this day of football, not to be drafting an offensive linemen somewhere in the 1st 4 rounds each and every year.

      2. Flo-Ri-Duh

        Dewey _ If you look at Pete Carroll’s philosophy I believe you will find where DQ got his ideas concerning OL from. Hope he wises up because Seahawks OL has been weak for years. Fortunately Seahawks have a QB that can buy time with his legs.

        Reply
  15. John Waynesworld

    Payne is dropping in some scout mocks. Hopefully our chomp-biting GM won’t waste a draft pick when Payne could be there at #26. Besides, if he drops past the Chargers and the Cowboys (with their new D Tackle trouble), something must be lacking in teams’ evaluations of Payne. We may pass on him!

    Reply
  16. Arno

    I wonder if teams that make the playoffs are more likely to have the one-player-away mentality in the next draft. Certainly appeared so after the Falcons loss to the Packers in 2010. They went for Julio, forfeiting their first round pick in 2011– the reason, as I recall was that we only needed more firepower. Didn’t turn out too well in the next playoffs when managed 2 points against the Giants.

    After our loss to the 49ers in 2012, Falcons drafted Trufant. Was he chosen to strengthen the team in general, or as a reaction to Kapernick beating us? Hmm. But that was Mike Smith’s Falcons. Now we have Quinn drafting Takk after Brady was able to run a gazillion plays in the Superbowl. Team building or reacting?

    So these are the most popular reasons we lost to the Eagles:

    One. Foles with newfound brilliance handled our D. How about the two questionable PI calls in the first quarter that allowed him to get over the shakes? Or how about Neal trading a certain INT with an off the knee reception for a big gain? Fluky stuff that doesn’t generate a job description for our first rounder.

    Reason two. Sark blew the last drive. Yep. If only we could draft an OC in the first round …

    Reason three. Eagles D dominated the second half. Undeniable. So if the Falcons are reacting to why we lost to the Eagles, and have the one player away mentality, we could very well see offense in the first round.

    If.

    Reply
    1. SG

      A painfully reactive perspective my friend.

      Hopefully, TD and his significant posse will sort it out yet again.

      NB: if my comments seem to be more sarcastic, aggressive, annoying, sardonic, than usual, etc., respect your opinion.

      Reply
    2. JB Falcon

      I can’t see even TD to be that dumb, especially with DQ as a D picker and builder. I’m hoping DT and LB and the rest is debatable.

      Reply
  17. JB Falcon

    Does anyone have a lower opinion of Duke Riley than me? 2.5 tackles per game? That’s about where he ranks in a scale of 1-10.

    Reply
      1. JB Falcon

        DT is the biggest need but LB ranks right up there. What scares me is Riley is projected to be the starter!

        Reply
    1. SG

      I’m w/ you JB on the first impression of Riley. But Q has pulled D rabbits out of his, …. before, so well…… So, for now, I’ll go w/ DQ’s assessment of the prolific talent we’ll soon be witness to.

      Reply
    2. Dewey

      Not a fan of Duke’s.
      Fast, but that’s about it.
      If he could learn to read plays as they develop rather than follow every bit of misdirection, maybe he wouldn’t be so horribly out of position all the time resulting in many, many missed open field tackles.
      I’m still holding out hope we draft LB Rashaad Evans in the 1st round to take Duke’s place.

      Reply
    3. Paddy O

      I thought he played very poorly; the D was clearly poorly executed when he was out there – he was slow to react, and routinely over ran plays and failed to make tackles.

      Reply
  18. Dewey

    I’m starting to believe more and more that DQ is leaning away from the big immovable DT and wants the quicker, athletic penetrating type. Could mean trouble in short yardage and goal line situations, but would be awesome everywhere else.

    Reply
    1. Hamad Meander

      I think this whole notion of favoring 315 lbs space eaters vs. 285 lbs disruptors is a fallacy of casual football fans. We tend to think bigger is always better, which is not the case. We tend to think a guy that is 20 lbs more at tackle would be a run stopper, whereas a smaller DT is only a pass rusher. This is not the case. We are really only talking about less than 10% difference in weight at this point.

      I like the idea of 325 lb DTs, but only if they are disruptors. Having a bigguy take up space isn’t as effective as having a guy with moves and speed to get to the QB/ball carriers. That is why I love Payne, Vita Vea, but not Tim Settle. I also like Hurst and Bryan, but not Harrison Phillips. I see the guys I like as being complete disruptors with the size/strength to hold the line, stop runners, and collapse pockets. You don’t collapse a pocket only because your DT weighs 330 and the guard weighs 310. It’s about moves, strength, scheme, strategy.

      We can’t go wrong at 26th unless we don’t pick Payne, Hurst, or Bryan. There is very little chance all of those options will be off the board when we pick. Please no trade ups.

      Reply
      1. Paddy O

        from my questionable observations on the last 5 or so drafts, the key combine stat for lineman is strength – ie, bench press. If he can’t do 30, preferably 35, the lineman will not have a good NFL career

        Reply
  19. John Waynesworld

    I was wondering if the Cage would like to do a quick contest. You can do it now or right before the draft…

    Try to make 5 bold predictions that will happen in the Draft. For example:

    “Josh Allen won’t get picked until after the Falcons pick.”

    The only rule is that the prediction must be bold!

    Reply
    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      JWW –
      #1) Maurice Hurst & Da’Ron Payne will still be on the board at #26 but Falcons traded UP already!
      #2) Giants draft a QB instead of Barkley (RB) at #2 pick.
      #3) Falcons trade UP in Rd #1 for Vita Vea (DT) – giving up their 2nd Rd pick.
      #4) Falcons trade UP and draft QB 3rd Rd! – giving up their 4th Rd pick!!!
      #5) TD is sent for mental evaluation and is removed as GM.

      Reply
    2. SG

      1) The rumor proves true: JJ and our #58 to Pats for their #23 and #43

      2) Pats use their #31 on Lamar Jackson – the QB McDaniels really wants for his future.

      3) – 5) coming later – gotta get back to work.

      Reply
    3. Paddy O

      I DON’T actually have the option to bold; but, most OG’s will drop to the 2nd round; DT’s will be a priority. And, Falcons will draft an OG in RD 2.

      Reply
  20. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Arno – Do we go to the mock draft link to enter our picks or do it on the home page? Dumb question I guess but we all need to be on the same “page” (pun intended)

    Reply
  21. John Waynesworld

    I’ll give it a go…
    1) Lamar Jackson will be picked by Cleveland at #4 after they pick Barkley with their #1.
    2) Nick Chubb will be picked before Sony Michel.
    3) Roquan Smith will be picked before Quentin Nelson.
    4) Only 1 O-Tackle will be picked in the 1st round.
    5) Javon Wims will be a 4th round pick.

    Reply
  22. Arno

    1) Rodger Godell is cheered when he comes to the platform.
    2) Cleveland’s first pick runs out of building.
    3) The “On the Clock” timer runs out before New Orleans can enter their selection.
    4) Falcons #1 thanks pet Corgi for inspiration. (just kidding, JB!)
    5) Mel Kiper sports new skin head look.

    Reply
  23. Dewey

    Months of pouring over draftable prospects and I still don’t have any clue what Quinnitroff’s draft plan is.
    Visually, it would seem obvious we need DT help the most, but I’m not sure the Falcons see it that way.
    With virtually 0 LB depth, that would seem a logical choice, but Quinnitroff likes our starters, so that would be a depth pick.
    Everyone wants Olinemen, but with starters and backups currently at every position, that pick seems doubtful.
    Here’s my last gasp at a mock, my choices mixed with Quinnitroff’s philosophy…

    1st-Rashaad Evans, LB
    2nd-Anthony Miller, WR(or any of a number of WR’s that will be available in round#2).
    3rd-PJ Hall, DT
    4th-Nathan Shepherd, DT
    6th-Jack Cichy, LB
    7th-Korey Cunningham, OT
    7th-Nick Bawden, FB

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      You’d think the failure of Schweitzer would indicate to DQ that he needs to draft future use O lineman earlier.

      Reply
  24. Dewey

    If the Browns have a legitimate interest in QB’s Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, and Sam Darnold is considered the #1 QB, why in the world wouldn’t Cleveland take RB Saquan Barkley #1. They also have the #4 pick. At least one of those 3 QB’s will be available at #4. This seems a no brainer to me.

    Reply
    1. Hamad Meander

      Yes, it’s a no-brainer. Which wouldn’t be a problem except it’s the Browns. Taking Barkley first is really the only answer unless they like Quinton Nelson or Bradley Chubb better and hope they are available at 4. With Barkley’s combine and production, seems like picking him would be nearly franchise changing. Probably a bigger impact than any QB they decide to select.

      Reply
    2. SG

      Just to throw something out there that the Browns could consider: draft 2 QBs w/ first 2 picks. Theirs first, I believe to be be Mayfield shows their commit to their starter. Their second, whoever doesn’t matter, ups the ante for a trade.

      Reply
  25. Gman

    So Have not The Browns taken a quarterback in the 1st round like 14 of the last 15 years? You would think they’d have learned by now

    Reply
    1. Dewey

      I know of 3 times in the recent past that they have passed on QB’s early in round #1, then burned picks trading back into the end of round#1 to draft QB’s who have turned into colossal failures (Branden Weeden, Brady Quinn, Johnny Manziel).

      Reply
  26. John Waynesworld

    Nice roadster, Arno!

    Breaking draft news…LG-OC-RG Billy Price has been fully cleared. I would take this guy as much as Daniels to be a Guard until Mack’s contract runs out. Gotta be at #26 or a trade back though!

    Reply
    1. Dewey

      Wanted Billy Price from the start. Stopped keeping up with him when it became painfully obvious Quinnitroff was not looking at Olinemen early.

      Reply
    1. just "little ole" me

      He has only had one year of double digit sacks. They should have been able to resign him for much less that 14 million!!!

      Reply
  27. Dewey

    Latest rumor, Michigan DT Maurice Hurst, once considered a surefire 1st rounder, is now being looked at as a day 3 pick by most clubs. Assuming this is due to his heart flutter detected at the combine.

    Reply
  28. Dewey

    If Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne is available somewhere around #18, look for the Falcons to trade up to get him.
    If they do trade up for Payne or anyone else for that matter, I will boycott the rest of the draft and just read about it on Monday.
    Unless it’s some weird trade up that involves players from us and we end up with extra picks. Then I’ll be very intrigued.

    Reply
  29. Dewey

    5 BOLD predictions for tomorrow
    1-the patriots trade up to green bay’s #14 and select QB Lamar Jackson
    2-Dimitroff trades down, all the way out of the 1st round, gathering 2 extra picks, works the draft like he’s paid to and gets us much needed depth at Oline, Dline, WR, CB, LB.
    3-Falcons draft a RB in 2nd round, then immediately trade Tevin Coleman for a 2019 2nd rounder.
    4-Flo does 3 more mock drafts between now and draft time tomorrow (hope everything went well today with your Dr. appointments).
    5-JB enters the Cage mock draft contest

    Reply

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