Atlanta Falcons: Defense Will Be Key Focus of 2017 NFL Draft
I was all ready to give the Atlanta Falcons Caleb Brantley, the defensive tackle from Florida, in this mock draft, but Dontari Poe changed all of that.
The former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle took a “feel good” vacation to several NFL teams before deciding to make the Peach State his new home. The move will benefit both Poe, who could be an all-important run stuffer on the Falcons defensive line, and Atlanta, who is still trying to figure out how Super Bowl 51 slipped through the team’s fingertips.
Poe alters this draft somewhat, but there are still plenty of needs with depth and on the defensive side of the ball. Atlanta by no means is a perfect team and if the New England Patriots’ moves this offseason tell the NFL anything, no team is set for the future, including the Falcons.
I suspect the Atlanta Falcons will look for the best players available with their six picks. There are still needs on the offensive line, at tight end, at linebacker and in the secondary. The team could also find offensive depth at wide receiver and speed for special teams.
Here is a look at the Atlanta Falcons first mock draft for The Inscriber Magazine.
Round 1, Pick 31 – Jabrill Peppers, Defensive Back, Michigan
Where Peppers plays could still be a mystery as his versatility makes him a valuable commodity in the NFL. In the best case scenario, Peppers plays strong safety in the NFL and gives the team a solid return specialist.
His size at 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds might be a concern for some, and he could be the target of other teams like Baltimore or Washington. If he slips to the back end of the first round, Atlanta should jump all over him.
Round 2, Pick 63 – Tyus Bowser, Linebacker, Houston
Bowser is a ‘tweener who could play outside or work on the edge as a pass rusher. I like his size at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds. He can cover a tight end off the line and pursue running backs in the middle of the field.
He also adds speed on the outside and would be a nice addition to the special teams unit. Bowser is one of those players who may move up draft boards as teams get closer to the Draft.
Round 3, Pick 95 – Jordan Leggett, Tight End, Clemson
Nice size at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds. Could be a nice receiver in the red zone and another blocker on the line, picking up an edge rusher. Could also be a nice third-down option.
Terrific versatility because he can line up out wide, split or in-line. He can be an H-back or put on the move in motion. Best in space, matched up with a linebacker because of his athleticism. He is another weapon for Matt Ryan on offense.
Round 4, Pick 135 – Malachi Dupree, Wide Receiver, LSU
He may have done more in college in another program. Quarterback play did not help Dupree in his time in Baton Rouge, but he could be a nice addition in Atlanta.
The 6-foot-2, 196lb receiver would be the fourth option at the position in the Atlanta Falcons offense and yet another weapon to have.
He has decent speed, but not game-breaking. Dupree will benefit from learning and playing in a defined role in 2017. He could become a solid target in time.
Round 5, Pick 175 – Riley Bullough, Linebacker, Michigan State
Bullough is a tough linebacker who can make it in the NFL as a special teams player. A bit small at 6’foot-2 and 227 pounds, Bullough is one of those Big Ten players who got by on athleticism and grit. A true throwback player.
He was a Four-year letter winner finished his career with 214 tackles, becoming the fourth member of the Bullough family with 200 tackles (uncle Chuck with 391 from 1988-91; father Shane with 311 from 1983-86; brother Max with 299 from 2010-13).
Round 7, Pick 251 – Kyle Kalis, Guard, Michigan
Another big ugly that played tough in the Big Ten. He has quick feet and serves well as both a pass and run blocker. Being picked this late, he is a project who could work his way into the Falcons rotation.
I like his intensity and ability to play both guard positions. At 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds, he is certainly big enough to battle opposing defensive linemen. He will need to work on his lower body to keep a solid foundation, but could turn into a nice late-round find.