The Atlanta Falcons will have a change of direction for the NFL Draft now that free agency has started.
Going into the draft initially, it was believed that the Atlanta Falcons were set on taking AJ Epenesa, a defensive lineman out of the University of Iowa. With a poor defensive front, this pick made a lot of sense for the value in which Epenesa is worth. Now that the Falcons have made key moves since the start of free agency, I feel the team takes a new direction with the number 16 pick.
Round 1: #16 – K’Lavon Chaisson / OLB
The Atlanta Falcons need to address the loss of De’vondre Campbell. With Campbell now in Arizona with the Cardinals, this places the biggest void at the line back position. The Falcons could pair up Chaisson alongside newcomer Dante Fowler and could also signal the end of Takk McKinley’s time with the Falcons.
Chaisson has very quick lateral speed and is very quick off the snap. Chaisson tallied up a total of almost seven sacks and 60 total tackles in 2019. His first step explosion will be crucial for success in a pass-first NFC South.
Round 2: #47 – A.J. Terrell / CB
Desmond Trufant will no longer be an Atlanta Falcons player as of June 1st. This opens up the second biggest void on this team, the cornerback slot. While the Falcons will have Damontae Kazee back at his natural corner spot come august, the health of our safety’s will determine how Dan Quinn uses Kazee, however, the lack of depth behind Kazee is unnerving.
Besides the interceptions by Kazee at the safety spot, no other corner has an interception. The Atlanta Falcons secondary was one of the league’s worst in 2019. Losing Trufant only makes it that much more suspect and a top draft need. However, Terrell’s performance in the National Title game was suspect. Although, LSU made everyone look suspect all year so can’t fault Terrell too much there.
Round 3: #78 – James Lynch / DT
There’s a trend here, another defensive guy. The Atlanta Falcons select Lynch to play alongside Grady Jarrett and developing a strong defensive front. Lynch has plenty of upsides as he has really good upper body explosiveness and is quick to attack the neutral zone. Lynch accounted for nearly 14 sacks last season and had nearly 20 tackle for losses. Add on his 41 total tackles and Lynch could be a strong suitor to play with Jarrett.
Round 4: #119 – J.R. Reed / S
Continuing on the defensive side of the ball, the Atlanta Falcons need depth at the safety position. Keanu Neal is coming off of his second season with a season-ending injury early on, forcing Kazee into his spot. Playing on a contract year, this is a make or break season for Neal and Reed can be the guy who pushes Neal forward.
Just like Neal, Reed likes to run through receivers in an attempt to knock the ball loose. However, Reed is better when guarding the slot receiver or big tight ends. When tasked with playing New Orleans twice a year, Reed could play a key role when guarding Mike Thomas or Jared Cook.