Atlanta Falcons mock draft: Terry Fontenot goes offense early

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons fans cheer prior to the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons fans cheer prior to the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /
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Round 2, Pick 35: Travis Etienne, RB Clemson

While it may shock Atlanta Falcons fans to see the top two picks used on offensive players, how can you say “no” to an offense that would now have Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst, Kyle Pitts, and Travis Etienne?

Etienne was nothing short of incredible with the Clemson Tigers. He was the workhorse for the dominant offense in South Carolina. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne were the two stars of the team and they were the stars for good reason.

Etienne is a home run hitter and someone that Arthur Smith should welcome to the Atlanta Falcons. In his career with Clemson, which started in 2017, he had season-long runs of 81, 75, 90, and 72 respectively.

While he had a relative down year in 2020, according to his standards, that should not shy Terry Fontenot away from taking this talented player.

Travis Etienne had 4,952 rushing yards, 70 rushing touchdowns, with a 7.2 average yards per rush. He also recorded 102 receptions, 1,155 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns. He finished his career as the ACC all-time leading rusher.

Etienne improved year by year as a receiver.

By his senior season, he was a spectacular receiving threat out of the backfield. He will no doubt continue to improve his skill set, and he has all-pro potential in the NFL.

The former Clemson Tiger has a balanced skillset. He will beat you with speed and will also run through tackles. He runs with great balance and has had numerous runs during his career where he tight ropes the sideline and takes it all the way.

With the signing of Mike Davis, these two could provide just what you need out of the backfield. Davis is a punishing runner, and Etienne has the elite speed to take it all the way.

Adding Etienne and Pitts in the first two rounds could provide elite talent for years to come, even when Julio Jones leaves Atlanta.

Other Considerations: Ozeez Ojulari, ED Georgia; Kyle Trask, QB Florida.

Round 3, Pick 68: Payton Turner, ED Houston

One thing is certain during the draft, the Atlanta Falcons have to add talent at edge rusher.

When Dante Fowler Jr., who registered three sacks during the whole 2020 season, is your best pass rusher, you know you have a problem. Edge rusher and left guard, should be considered the weakest starting positions on the Falcons roster.

So, after going offense in the first two rounds, they cannot afford to not take a defensive player in the third round. They pick up Payton Turner, an edge defender out of the University of Houston.

The first thing people will notice is Payton Turner’s size, he is 6-foot-6 and 270 lbs.

The Atlanta Falcons need to take a player who has upside as an edge rusher, and it certainly shows when you watch Payton Turner.

He definitely has room to grow, as he needs to learn how to beat tackles in other ways than just winning around the corner.

He shows the flashes that you want in a high upside player. He flashes an elite first step in some of his plays and will beat the tackle by bending under them. He played as a hand in the dirt rusher, a stand-up rusher, and he even occasionally rushed from the inside.

Terry Fontenot and Dean Pees will most definitely take a hard look at him, and Pees has the ability to turn Payton Turner into a great player.

Other considerations: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB Syracuse; Andre Cisco, S Syracuse.