The Falcons have the 31st pick of the 2017 draft. After the historic Super Bowl collapse it’s crucial for Atlanta to pick up young talent and prevent something as devastating as the Super Bowl from happening again. Dating all the way back to the early 2000’s the Falcons have made key draft choices. In 2008 they selected franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, and in 2011 they traded up to draft standout Alabama wide out Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman was selected in the 4th round of the 2014 draft, and Vic Beasley was selected in the 1st round in 2015. In the 2016 draft the first 4 selections Atlanta made all became starters, 3 of which on the defensive side of the ball.(Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell) Year after year Atlanta has been successful in the draft, however part of the reason being because they had early draft selections. This year, they’ll have to make do with the 31st pick, and here’s some possible players Atlanta has a strong likelihood of selecting:
Charles Harris(first round): 6’3 236 pound defensive end out of Missouri is a selection Atlanta could make to strengthen their defensive line. Harris runs a 4.82 and led Missouri in sacks in 2015. Even though Atlanta had the NFL sack leader during the regular season, a defensive end opposite of Beasley to bring pass rush could be the final piece of the puzzle for Atlanta’s longtime weak pass rush problem.
Malik McDowell(first or second round): There is talk Malik could be selected by the Vikings in the first round, but if not, Atlanta could always choose him over Harris. The Michigan State alum is 6’6 295 and runs a 4.85. There are concerns about his work ethic and technique, but those things can be taught and his size and strength just about makes up for the things he lacks
Budda Baker(possible 1st or 2nd round selection): This standout safety out of Washington has everything going for him, except for size. At only 5’10 an NFL comparison would likely be Ricardo Allen. Dan Quinn has started Allen, which means he’s willing to overlook size therefore possibly select Baker in the draft. However, if the Falcon’s organization decides they want a bigger safety to counter Neal, Obi Melifonwu might be the selection they make out of UConn. At 6’4 224, Melifonwu loves to make hard hits and could become a standout just as Neal was his rookie year.
With the offense coming off the year they just had, Atlanta will pick defensive players the first 2 and possibly more rounds of the draft. Whether they decide to patch up the secondary first or try and solve the longtime mystery of a weak defensive line is solely up to what the Falcon’s organization decides. After Atlanta picks up players to strengthen the defensive side of the ball it’s very likely Atlanta will go after an OT. John Heck out of North Carolina is on the market, along with Forrest Lamp out of Western Kentucky. Both these players had above average(not standout) years in college. With history showing Atlanta has been made good decisions in drafts, don’t expect anything to change come this 2017 draft.
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