Atlanta Falcons Address Defensive Weaknesses in Mock Draft
By Joe Carlino
Round One (Eighth Overall): Christian Gonzalez, CB (Oregon)
Despite all the talk that Atlanta could potentially move up and select one of the quarterbacks in this class (which would be a terrible move), the team instead stays put and gets a choice of the two top cornerbacks in this draft to pair with AJ Terrell. Truthfully, if Atlanta ever thought about trading up, it would be for Will Anderson, but there's probably not a good trade compensation with Arizona that'd warrant such a move. Trading down is an option, but more on a trade later.
Gonzalez is an absolute menace on the outside, being a four-star recruit to Colorado (becoming a Pac-12 honorable mention) and then making a larger name for himself as a member of the Oregon Ducks last season. At Oregon, Gonzalez shined larger, securing his four collegiate interceptions and 50 tackles on the year. While tackling could be considered an area of improvement for the young defensive back, the positives outweigh the negatives.
At the NFL Combine, however, Gonzalez most likely stamped his ticket as a top-10 pick with his incredible 4.38 40 yard dash, 11'1" broad jump, and 41.5" vertical, all in the 85th or higher percentile. Furthermore, in the Combine and Oregon Pro Day, videos surfaced of his hip movement, which was so fluid and crisp it was hard to tell if he was actually water.
While many would prefer the Falcons address the pass rush (which is warranted), the converse argument is sticky cornerback play can give the rushers more time to "get home", and Gonzalez's range and ability to play against the press will separate him at the next level alongside AJ Terrell.
Of course, with the recent slide of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, one might wonder why he's not on the Falcons' radar. In this mock, it's because of one simple reason: Seattle passed on Tyree Wilson to select him despite all the off-field concerns. Carter is a freak of nature, and pairing him with Grady Jarrett would be really fun to see, but the Seahawks opted to ignore any concerns and select him. There's also Myles Murphy, but cynically speaking, do Falcons fans really want to select another Clemson edge rusher eighth overall?
Another player to watch in this if Gonzalez is selected would be the other top corner in this class, Devon Witherspoon. Check out this review of the young player and why he'd be a good fit here.