September 22, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Larry Warford (67) and guard Zach West (75) block against the Florida Gators in the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Like I said yesterday, when I posted my first league-wide 1st-round Mock Draft of 2013, the Atlanta Falcons season is over. Normal fans would mope around, with nothing to look forward to for the next few months at least. But we should all take a page out of the front office of the Falcons, and focus on building this roster for the future. Head coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff are already in Moblie Alabama, evaluating talent for the upcoming NFL Draft. If they’re doing it, we as fans certainly can do the same.
I’m going to do something a little different here. It’s extremely hard to predict what is going to happen in the 4th round or later, so as a result, I’m not even going to give predictions on who they Falcons may or may not take in that draft. It’s a crapshoot at this point, as the NFL Combine hasn’t even commenced. Heck, the Super Bowl hasn’t even been played yet.
What I will do is use current information and charting of talent for the upcoming NFL Draft, match that with the positions the Falcons need help with, and come up with the first three players the Falcons will select. It’s just a guess, and it’s certainly subject to change, but in this last week of January, these are the three players I think the Falcons could end up taking.
Round 1 Pick 30- Margus Hunt, DE/DT, Southern Methodist: This is a guy I didn’t know much about coming into this week, but I’ve heard some really good things about. Hunt is an extremely tall defensive lineman at 6’8″, and 275 lbs. That’s really the only drawback that I see on the guy, and if he doesn’t maintain low pad level, offensive linemen will out-leverage him.
The positives are that Hunt is extremely athletic, has great brute strength, is fast, and is versatile. He’s not really a true defensive end like we’re used to seeing with John Abraham, but he’s not quite a defensive tackle like Babineaux is. He can hold up on the edge, but he’s quick enough to play the defensive end position and beat offensive tackles. He’s big, strong, and can do a multitude of things on the defensive front, things that the Falcons could really use at this point.
Round 2 Pick 62- Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky: Warford is a very, very good right guard. He was only second team SEC, but he’s still as solid as they get. I’ve watched him in some of the Senior Bowl drills, and he’s simply been dominating. Now, he probably won’t dominate in the NFL, but he will certainly be able to hold his own. He’s played really well in the best conference in college football, a league known very well for their big, fast defensive fronts. Warford can be a very good player on the Falcons offensive line.
One concern is that the Falcons just drafted Peter Konz, and he played right guard this year. Well, Todd McClure isn’t getting any younger, and while he may like to return next season, the Falcons may not necessarily re-sign him. That would allow Konz to shift to his more natural position, which is center, what he played in college. That would vacate the right guard position, and allow the Falcons to draft Warford to take the spot voided by Konz.
Round 3 Pick 94- Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA: Fauria is almost the exact same type of player that Tony Gonzalez was from a production standpoint. Gonzalez wasn’t used much as a primary blocker; the Falcons opted to send him down the field and catch passes, or flex him out to the slot. He was certainly serviceable as a blocker, but that wasn’t exactly what he was best at, and the Falcons played to his strengths.
That’s Fauria exactly. At UCLA this past season, he caught 45 passes for over 600 yards and caught 11 touchdowns. That shows that he can excel in the red-zone as a receiving target, an area of the field where Tony was very good. He has reasonable speed to stretch the field down the seam, and beat linebackers. Matt Ryan will need a target at tight end, whether or not Tony Gonzalez retires, and Fauria would fit the bill perfectly.