Yes, it’s early to start looking at the NFL Draft, but looking at mock drafts are a great way to fill holes in a teams roster. The Atlanta Falcons may be 11-1, have clinched the NFC South, and have a great shot at locking up the #1 seed in the NFC playoff, but there is no doubt that there are holes on this roster, or positions that need some serious help. Let’s take a look at what Fansided’s NFL Mocks group has put together, and what player they project the Falcons taking.
You can look at all of the first round picks, 1-32, but the link I posted was specifically to the second half of the draft, the portion when the Falcons will be drafting. According to NFL Mocks, the Falcons will be drafting 31st overall, which is possibly more meaningful than anything else read in the draft.
Now to the pick. Mocks has the Falcons taking defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of Brigham Young with the 31st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Here’s what Josh Sanchez (the author of the post) had to say about the pick:
Atlanta could benefit from adding to their pass rush and Ansah is one of this year’s most intriguing prospects. Ansah is as raw as it gets and is still new to the game of football, but he has the natural talent to develop into an incredible force in the future. Ansah has drawn comparisons to New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul.
There is absolutely no arguing that the Falcons could really stand to bolster their pass-rush. John Abraham is providing the bulk of the pressure on the quarterback for Atlanta’s defense, but he’s definitely aging, and there’s no possible way to know when he is going to slow down. Kroy Biermann is doing a fantastic job opposite Abraham at the other defensive end spot as far as pressuring the pocket as well as playing the run. But the truth is, Biermann is much better suited to playing the complementary defensive end spot, where he can do a great job. Someone has to take over at defensive end as a dominant pass-rusher.
The comparison to Jason Pierre-Paul is intriguing. I would love to have a player just like Pierre-Paul on my team, and Ansah is certainly athletic and physical enough to do that. But I have a couple questions. While playing a slate of games against mostly WAC opponents, Ansah hasn’t exactly stunned everyone with great numbers. He’s only registered 4.5 sacks (an unofficial statistic where he plays) in 12 games. That’s not great production, and it reminds me of Ray Edwards. Perhaps there is huge upside for him, but I’m not sold just yet. Perhaps I will be after his pro-day, the Combine, and other events.
The place where the Falcons have struggled and I would be inclined to look to draft is along the offensive line. On the interior part of the offensive line, the Falcons just haven’t been blowing people off the line of scrimmage they way they should be. It’s a huge problem, as the Falcons just aren’t converting short-yardage situations the way the should be, especially against the run. Center Todd McClure is going to retire in the next several seasons, and Peter Konz is going to take over that spot. I think the Falcons will take the most physical, bruising guard on the board to help facilitate power running in the future. If he’s available, I don’t think there’s any way the Falcons pass up on North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. He would help the o-line in both pass protection and run blocking.