Two years ago, it looked as though the Atlanta Falcons would claim the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. We all know how that turned out.
Last year, the team finished 10-6 and was an NFC South wild card. This year, there is renewed hope this ball club could be another playoff contender and possible Super Bowl contender as well.
The Atlanta Falcons are a high-powered offensive unit, riding the arm of Matt Ryan and the pass catching skills of Julio Jones. The running game of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman provide a nice balance for head coach Dan Quinn.
The defense needs some tinkering, but at times is solid with a core of young speedy defenders. This year’s NFL Draft could mean another crop of talented players to help get the Atlanta Falcons back to where they belong – in the chase for a Lombardi Trophy.
Here’s a look at how I see the Atlanta Falcons draft breaking down.
Round 1, 26th Overall – Taven Bryan, Defensive Tackle, Florida – Bryan was impressive in Combine workouts and could be a steal in this draft. He is quick and has good leverage off the snap. I like him inside, but he may be agile enough to move outside on the end in rush packages. The one thing not in his favor is he is raw and may need a year to develop.
Round 2, 58th Overall – Tim Settle, Defensive Tackle, Virginia Tech – Settle is massive at 6-foot-3 and 329 pounds. He will be a run stuffer in the Atlanta Falcons defensive scheme. He may initially make more of an impact than Bryan. Weight loss and conditioning before his senior season helped him rise his draft stock. He could have a solid 10-year future in the NFL.
Round 3, 90th Overall – Jaleel Scott, Wide Receiver, New Mexico State – I love Scott as a third wide receiver in the Falcons pro set. Scott is tall at 6-foot-6 and lanky at 215 pounds. He could use some weight, but he will be a nice red zone target. He was impressive at the Senior Bowl and his offseason workouts helped his draft projection.
Round 4, 126th Overall – Jordan Whitehead, Safety, Pittsburgh – Whitehead figures to be part of the Atlanta Falcons secondary rotation and a special teams performer. Playing in the ACC, Whitehead competed against big, strong and agile receivers. Despite a small frame, he was productive throughout his college career for the Ducks. I see him as a punt returner and party of the Atlanta Falcons nickel package.
Round 6, 200th Overall – Da’Shawn Hand, Defensive End, Alabama – Not as accomplished as other Alabama defensive linemen, but he can still be an effective pass rusher in the right system. At 6-foot-4 and 297 pounds, he was clocked at 4.83 in the 40-yard dash. He becomes another quick defensive lineman Dan Quinn’s rotation. He may not get may reps at the start of his career, but could blossom into a force up front.
Round 7, 244th Overall – Tyrone Crowder, Guard, Clemson – At 330 pounds, Crowder has a chance to make the Atlanta Falcons main roster and contribute as a reserve. He has good size, is a good run blocker, and opens holes up for his backs. He also gets a good push on the defensive line, and does not get pushed around that easily.