Best Case Draft Scenario for the Falcons: Part 2
By Matt Karoly
On day three of this best case draft scenario, the Falcons round out the depth chart at positions where the roster is thin.
In part one of this series, the Falcons came away with upgrades along both the offensive and defensive lines in the first three rounds of the draft. Part two seeks to fill out the roster in rounds four, five, and seven.
The Falcons already entered this draft in “Best Player Available” territory. By adding a top notch edge rusher and starting caliber interior linemen in rounds two and three, the Dirty Birds walk into day three with nothing to lose.
Tight end, swing tackle, linebacker, and safety top the list of remaining needs for the Falcons. When all’s said and done, Atlanta crosses off three of the four and could make it a clean sweep if they acquire one more pick.
Round 4, Pick 136: Tight end
In an extremely deep tight end class, the Falcons pull the trigger at the bottom of the fourth round. Much like Vic Beasley in the pass rush, 2016 third round pick Austin Hooper needs a sidekick.
The front office elected not to bring back Jacob Tamme and instead opted to re-sign Levine Toilolo. While Toilolo led the team in yards per reception last season, don’t expect a repeat performance in 2017. “Big Tree” was primarily re-signed for his work paving the way in the Falcons’ run game.
With Patrick DiMarco’s role in the offense vacated, the Falcons may elect to run more tight end-heavy sets. If so, the team will look to acquire an H-back/move tight end to pair with Hooper and Toilolo. Potential round four prospects that fit are Jonnu Smith, George Kittle, and Cole Hikutini.
Round 5, Pick 174: Linebacker
Linebackers Philip Wheeler, Paul Worrilow, and Sean Weatherspoon were not asked back following the 2016 season. That leaves Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, LaRoy Reynolds, and Josh Keyes as the only true linebackers left on the roster.
In addition, Kemal Ishmael is making the switch to linebacker full-time after playing the position in a limited capacity last year. However, Reynolds, Keyes, and Ishmael are only tied to the Falcons through 2017.
Dimitroff & Company would be wise to add a linebacker to serve as injury insurance and a potential developmental starter down the road. With Jones and Campbell serving as the blueprint, ‘backers that thrive in space fit the Dan Quinn mold. Day three talents such as Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Blair Brown, and Tanner Vallejo make the most sense with this selection.
Round 7, Pick 249: Offensive tackle
Right guard is not the only need along the Falcons’ offensive line. Due to the free agent departure of Tom Compton and abrupt retirement of Carter Bykowski, Kevin Graf stands as the only player currently left to occupy the swing tackle duties.
The Falcons tried their luck at landing a developmental tackle in this round in 2015, but to no avail. Hopefully, they have better luck this time around. Possible candidates to fill the position are Aviante Collins, Storm Norton, and Chad Wheeler.
At the end of the day, the Falcons can go in a variety of different directions and I would not be upset. Save for quarterback, wide receiver, and cornerback, Atlanta could stand to improve at every other position.
After hitting a home run in the 2015 and 2016 drafts, Quinn and Dimitroff have earned our complete trust. It makes for a perfect situation to be in and one that should bring much intrigue to this year’s draft.