Feb 3, 2015; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank (left) and new head coach Dan Quinn pose for a photo during a press conference at the Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The 2015 draft is officially in the books! The Atlanta Falcons have improved the defense by adding Vic Beasley, Jalen Collins and Grady Jarrett along with FA signings of Adrian Clayborn, Obrien Schofield, Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. Barring any veteran cuts (Tyson Jackson after June 1 maybe) we should be set for a top 15 defense this year. However, there is still a need for linebacker and safety on the defensive side. Guard and Tight End on the offensive side. So let’s talk 2016 draft!
For starters, the Atlanta Falcons need to look at a position that could be getting a facelift come Free Agency with the potential contracts of Joe Hawley, Peter Konz, Ryan Schraeder, and Paul Worrilow set to expire. Of course, they could easily resign all three for a low cost especially Schraeder and Worrilow as RFA’s. So turning our attention to safety and possibly linebacker is where we need to go.
2016 1st round potential picks
Leonard Floyd, University of Georgia DE/OLB
Consistency was an issue for Floyd but still managed 6 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss this past season. The one thing that we don’t know is the health of Floyd who underwent shoulder surgery in Dec 2014 that caused him to miss the Belk Bowl. Because of this, he may fall to the middle picks of the 1st round and could stand to fill out his frame but, if he does he could be another pass rusher that the Atlanta Falcons could take.
Jalen Ramsey, Florida State University CB/S
This year, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t draft a safety until the 7th round. In all honesty, there wasn’t enough talent this draft for safety and tight end. Jalen Ramsey is known as a guy that’s always around the ball. For example, when FSU played Miami in November 2014, Ramsey recorded 1 INT that ended the game, 1 FF on Miami’s first offensive play, broke up four passes, 3 tackles including one for a loss, and blocked an extra point. While he will play as CB at FSU this season, he has excelled at Safety also.
Taylor Decker, Ohio St. University T
Incredibly athletic similar to former Ohio St great Jack Mewhort, Decker probably would’ve been a 1st rounder this year. He’s great in pass protection and opened up lanes for Ezekiel Elliott to run right through. Having two anchors on the Atlanta Falcons line could be exactly what projects us into the Superbowl
Jaylon Smith, Norte Dame ILB
Manti Te’o was an amazing linebacker for Norte Dame. He needed 39 career games to record an INT, FF, and FR. Jaylon Smith did that 8 games into his Norte Dame career and also recorded 67 tackles which is the 3rd most by a Norte Dame rookie. He definitely has the size at 6’3 230 and just needs to fill out his frame to be a potential top 20 draft pick.
O.J. Howard, Alabama TE
6-6 242 and runs a 4.49. Howard is a mismatch for many defenses in the NFL and could easily turn into a Gronkowski type production from the tight end spot. He only caught 14 passes for 269 and two TD’s but, 13 of those catches were for first downs and 8 of them were over 15 yards. He could easily be the guy that the Atlanta Falcons have been desiring since Tony Gonzalez left.
What prospects do you think the Atlanta Falcons should look into for 2016?