Dueling Mocks: Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Atlanta Falcons mock draft
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Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonFB)

After the whole Lamar Jackson conversations on Twitter we decided to to take a breather from that and just talk NFL draft. Today, Falcons Around the Block contributors Hunter Thompson and Saivion Mixson go toe to toe in an Atlanta Falcons mock draft duel. Let us know who won over @Falcons_atb on Twitter!

Pick 8: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

After choosing not to pursue Lamar Jackson this offseason, I have the Falcons kicking off my mock draft by taking my number one quarterback in the draft. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is incredibly accurate, poised, and can be the superstar point guard that this offense needs to achieve new heights.

Pick 44: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

Drew Dalman was fine this past season, but he had his fair share of issues. For me, adding a franchise quarterback and a starting center in the same draft is too good to pass up. John Michael Schmitz would fit Arthur Smith’s zone blocking scheme to a T and should be able to build long-term chemistry with both Chris Lindstrom and our QB of the future. Oh, he is also the best center in this draft — so that is a bonus.

Pick 75: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

New Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen has a type at EDGE, with what seems to be bigger bodied guys being his preference. Zach Harrison fits that mold at 6’5″ 274lbs. Harrison could be used in a variety of ways across this defensive line as Ryan Nielsen looks to give it any sort of pulse going forward.

Pick 110: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

Julius Brents is a Senior Bowl standout who could be enticing for Ryan Nielsen and new defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. Brents and his 6’3″ frame tested very well at the NFL Combine, with a vert of 41.5″ and a broad jump of 11’6″. Those traits could are too enticing for the new defensive staff to pass up on in the fourth round of this Falcons mock draft.

Pick 113: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

Grady Jarrett can’t do it all by himself from the interior this season. Zacch Pickens is a guy who could be a good rotational piece with Ta’Quon Graham to help complement Grady and keep the defensive line refreshed. Pickens is a 4-year starter for South Carolina’s defense and got better each season. He has a powerful first step that can really disrupt opposing offensive lines.

Pick 161: Jadon Haselwood, WR, Arkansas

Jadon Haselwood falls into that category of “players from Georgia” that Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have been talking about. Plus they witnessed his ability first hand at the Shrine Bowl. Haselwood is a possession receiver who never truly broke onto the scene in college, but his frame and skillset could provide a nice piece opposite of Drake London and help chunk away at opposing defenses.

Pick 226: Warren McClendon, OT, Georgia

The Falcons choosing not to tag right tackle Kaleb McGary makes me a little wary of what they could be doing at the position, which is why I grabbed Warren McClendon here. McClendon is a solid lineman who lacks some of the athleticism to be a star, but could develop into a strong swing tackle — or even future starter.

Pick 247: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion

Is it really an Arthur Smith draft without drafting a tight end? As weird as it sounds, the Falcons could really benefit from upgrading the TE2 spot. Kuntz is a physical specimen with a 6’7″, 255lb frame who tested the best of any TE at the combine this season. He has a lot of work to do in polishing his game, but this late it just feels like a move we would make.

Saivion’s Mock (@MixsonS_NFL)

Pick 8: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

My FAVORITE cornerback to pair with AJ Terrell. This would lock up the cornerback position for years to come in Atlanta. Do I need to say more?

Pick 44: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

You can’t simply pass up running backs like Jahmyr Gibbs. An Alvin Kamara-type of back who is more than comfortable receiving in the slot. He would add yet another weapon for the quarterback of the future of this franchise.

Pick 75: Keeanu Benton, iDL, Wisconsin

The interior defensive lineman from Wisconsin is one of Chuck Smith’s protege’s from this draft cycle. You can bet that he will be more than ready to come into camp and add his pass rush chops to a defense begging for help getting to the quarterback.

Pick 110: Andrew Voorhees, iOL, USC

THIRTY EIGHT BENCHPRESS REPS. Now, the ACL tear may cause the Trojan lineman to slide some, but his strength makes his potential as a cornerstone of this Falcons offensive line worth it.

Pick 113: Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State

Listen, do you want to stretch the field on offense? If so, Jayden Reed is 100% your guy. His ability as a route runner also makes him a perfect pick here, and a fantastic “Robin” to Drake London’s “Batman”.

Pick 161: Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati

This is a guy who plays much bigger than his 5’10 and-a-half-inch frame. Pace is an absolute baller and adds a much needed “thumper” to this linebacker room.

Pick 226: YaYa Diaby, EDGE, Louisville

Another combine standout who just so happens to check off the “from Georgia” box that Terry Fontenot has hinted at. Diaby has a solid 6’3″ 263lb frame that would be a nice off-the-bench contributor to a defensive line that needs all the help they can get.

Pick 247: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

You really thought we weren’t going to add to the quarterback room? UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) is a fun, athletic option who can be developed into a solid QB2 option for the Arthur Smith offense. And grabbing a guy like this, this late, feels like it’ll work.

Baltimore Ravens: To Bijan Robinson Or Not To Bijan

Every NFL draft cycle, there is always a polarizing player that people just cannot seem to place. Whether it be a lack of production in college but a terrific combine performance or the measurables weren’t as prototypical as one might prefer despite, there are always prospects that divide the draft community in half. This year, that prospect is Bijan Robinson. While no one can deny his talent, most question the position he plays. So where will Robinson settle in the draft? Some have linked him to a team that could certainly use his services: the Baltimore Ravens.

This link in itself has caused quite a stir in the Ravens Flock community. We weigh the pros and cons of Baltimore drafting the highly touted prospect out of Texas with the 22nd overall pick.

The Case Against the Ravens taking Bijan Robinson

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As the old adage goes: never draft a running back in the first round. No matter the talent, no running back is immune to the brutal wear and tear the position calls for. Every great running back has, at one point or another, hit that wall that they cannot run through, whether it be due to age or the physicality of the position.

When a team drafts a running back, they can only expect a short period of time where that player can realistically be considered an effective piece of the offense. Bijan Robinson, with all of his talent, is not immune to this.

As for the Ravens themselves, they already have an effective stable of running backs in place. JK Dobbins came into the league with high expectations, and it’s safe to say he is meeting them.

From Weeks 14 through 17, Dobbins led the league in rushing and yards per carry, becoming Baltimore’s most effective offensive weapon with Lamar Jackson missing time. With a 5.9 YPC average over his entire career, Dobbins should be mentioned as one of the most effective runners in the league.

Behind Dobbins sits the ever reliable Gus Edwards. Despite an injury, Gus “The Bus” is still a physical runner who is reliable in short yardage situations.

The biggest reason the Ravens won’t be selecting Bijan Robinson is the construction of the current roster. The team simply has too many holes. Wide receiver, a constant thorn in the side of the franchise, is a glaring need that must be upgraded.

Another outside corner to pair with All-Pro Marlon Humphrey is needed, especially if perennial fan favorite Marcus Peters isn’t brought back. And of course, the looming future of Lamar Jackson will certainly decide the direction of the franchise for years to come.

Couple that with the fact that the Ravens current do not hold a second round pick in this year’s draft. With so many needs and fewer draft picks than usual, it is difficult to argue for using a pivotal first round selection on a position that is hardly a need for the team. As talented as he is, drafting Bijan Robinson would be a questionable — at best — move for the Ravens.

The Case For the Baltimore Ravens Drafting Bijan Robinson

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With the departure of Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, many believe that his replacement, Todd Monken, will implement a heavier passing attack. While that may be true, a major reason Monken was hired is because he won’t deviate greatly from the offensive scheme the Ravens have in place.

The Ravens won’t stray too far from what has brought them success the last few years: an elite run game. Robinson would be an immediate superstar in Baltimore’s intricate ground attack, and he would take pressure off of Lamar Jackson as someone who can be consistently relied upon to make plays. Bottom line, Robinson can be an elite bell-cow for the Ravens’ rushing attack.

One of the cases against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson could also be a case for drafting him: JK Dobbins. While Dobbins has been one of the most effective runners when on the field, getting him on the field has been his biggest issue.

A torn ACL just prior to the 2021 season kept the former Buckeye on the sidelines for the entirety of that year. It’s clear the Ravens are cautious about his health. In fact, Dobbins has had more than 15 carries in a single game just once in his career. That’s not exactly a strong vote of confidence in the young back.

Beyond the roller coaster of availability of Dobbins, depth at the position could be light. Gus Edwards is a prime candidate to be released, as that move would would free up nearly $4.5 million for the cash-strapped franchise according to Spotrac.

Not to mention both Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill will be headed to free agency, as well. The cupboard for Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack could look very bare by mid-March.

Of course, there is Bijan Robinson himself. The Longhorn runner is an elite playmaker as both a runner and a pass catcher. A patient runner who waits to find an opening, he can accelerate and use his exceptional agility to make a big play in a flash.

Given his size (6’0, 220 lbs), it’s difficult to grasp just how Robinson can be so explosive. Aside from Lamar Jackson, the Ravens don’t have an offensive player close to the caliber of Robinson. He would be an immediate play-making threat for an offense that simply lacks many at all.

With that said, it is impossible to discount the Raven approach to “best player available.” Though it seems overused, the Ravens have built their identity around this mantra — to grand success. There is no denying that, regardless of position, Robinson is a top-5 talent in this draft. Just because the Ravens don’t necessarily need a certain position, that hasn’t stopped them from addressing the position regardless. Look back to their 2001 draft.

Despite having Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, the Ravens weren’t swayed from taking Arizona tight end Todd Heap. That move worked out fairly well for Baltimore. The Ravens have done this countless times over the years. Who is to say they won’t do it again in 2023? Robinson may just be too talented for the Ravens to pass up.

A more recent example occurred just this past year. The Ravens boasted two first round picks in 2022 NFL Draft and selected safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum. Neither position is considered to be a premium position to use a first round draft pick on, but the talent for both was too good to pass up on. Not to mention, with Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark already on the roster, safety was hardly a position of need.

However head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric De Costa repeatedly stated Hamilton was at the top of their big board and were elated when he fell into Baltimore’s lap. Yet more proof that the Ravens overlook position and need when it comes to drafting top-level talent.

Bottom Line

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From a pure talent stand-point, it’s hard to argue against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson 22nd overall. He would be an exciting addition to an offense that seems to be constantly lagging behind. However, there are too many holes on the roster that could be filled with the Ravens first pick.

Cornerback and receiver are much more pressing needs that the Ravens must address early. Pair that with the on-going drama over Lamar Jackson’s contract, a first round selection of a running back may be too rich for a franchise that can’t seem to afford it.

But with the Ravens and high level-talent, you can never say never.

Decoding The “Packers Way” Part 2

Welcome back to part 2! In this article we will be decoding the “Packers way” in regards to defensive players. As I stated in one of my previous articles the Packers have a certain way of doing things with regards to the NFL draft and their thresholds for prospects. You can also check out part one on the offensive players. We will be laying out, in simple terms and data, how the Green Bay Packers approach drafting defensive players.

I previously wrote about this back in April of 2021. In that article, I based most of my findings off of Ted Thompson’s draft picks. Now that Brian Gutekunst has had two more drafts, we can more clearly see his trends. I will still refer back to Thompson sparingly since Gutekunst did learn under Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson; the architects of the “Packers Way”. Some of that is connected to RAS. We will break it down by position.

Defensive line:

Under Ted Thompson, defensive linemen averaged a RAS score of 7.29. With Gutekunst, it has been 7.77, and if you take out Jonathan Ford it jumps to a 8.83; so it can be said that Gutey prioritizes athletes along the defensive line more than Ted did. They have all been at least 6’2 and 290 or heavier, so while he is a good player, do not expect the Packers to draft a player like Calijah Kancey who is probably about 6’0 275.

Gutekunst also has only drafted guys with 32″ arms or longer. The bare minimum vertical was 29″, where oddly enough seven draft picks dating back to Thompson all had. 8’6″ seems to be the minimum with broad jump, but it seems Gutekunst and company like guys closer to 9’0.

In regards to 40-yard dash times, there have been two players with slow 40 times, Johnny Jolly and Jonathan Ford, with both running over 5.45. After them though, the next slowest is a 5.14; with a lot of them running under 5.1. Both players seem to be outliers.

So, look for defensive linemen who run in the 5.15 or faster range. The slowest short shuttle was a 4.89, but most draft picks ran under 4.8. The slowest 3-cone was a 7.91, but the majority have run 7.65 or faster.

Edge rusher:
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When it comes to edge rushers, the Packers haven’t changed the type they target. Historically, they like guys who score high athletically. Since Ted came aboard, they have averaged an 8.21 on the RAS scale, and with Gutekunst it has been 8.65. What has changed, though, is the body type.

With Dom Capers in town they tended to go after the smaller and more bendy type edge rushers. Since Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator, the front office has liked to draft longer and stronger guys who tend to be more power players. The Packers have drafted guys in the 6’4+ range and weighting 260 or more. All four of his picks have also had 34″ or longer arms, 33″ might be ok, but I wouldn’t look at anyone shorter than that.

The lowest vertical jump was 36″, so look for anyone with a 35″+ vertical. 9’9″ is the shortest broad jump since Ted took over as GM. It looks like Gutey prefers guys with 10′ or longer jumps. As for 40 times, the Packers clearly do not prioritize that, as you have one guy with a 4.45 and another with a 4.87. The slowest short shuttle was a 4.54, but most have been 4.4 or faster. When it comes to the 3-cone drill the slowest has been a 7.51, but most are 7.3 or faster.

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Gutkunst has drafted six linebackers in his time as GM. This is a position where he has taken a big departure from his predecessor . The average RAS under Thompson was a 5.98; under Gutekunst it has been a 9.06. So obviously a massive jump in required athleticism by the front office.

As for size, the minimum threshold is around 6’1, 230 pounds. The preference is probably about 6’3 240. Arm length has kind of been all over, with the shortest being 30 1/4″ and the longest 33 1/3″, but you could say 30 1/4″ is the minimum.

In regards to athletic testing, the lowest vertical jump was 32″. The shortest broad jump was 10’1″ — this seems to be a test the Packers prioritize with their linebackers. On to everyone’s favorite, 40 times. The slowest 40 time has been a 4.61, which makes this another prioritized test.

Short shuttle tests don’t seem to be as important, with the slowest being 4.46 and others in the 4.3 range. 3-cone drill, though, does seem to be something they key on, with the slowest being a 7.5 but the next slowest was a 7.25 and a lot of them being 7.1 or faster.

Defensive back:
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Now this is where the fun begins. There has been much hand wringing over the Packers thresholds at defensive back. The minimum height they will draft is 5’10 1/4″. It used to be 5’10 1/2″ under Wolf and Thompson, which they stuck to religiously. Gutekunst is a little more flexible, where he will make an exception if a player is worthy. Jaire Alexander is a great example, as he was 5’10 1/4 at the combine.


The Packers also like bigger corners, preferring guys who weigh in over 190. They also want guys with arms that are 31″ or longer. With safeties, they like guys who are “corner sized”: usually 5’11 or taller, 200 pounds plus, and 31″ arms or longer as well.


Now to the testing, The average RAS score of the corners is an 8.33. With vertical jumps, the minimum is 35″. As for the safeties, Gutekunst has only drafted one in his time so I will include Thompson’s picks as well. The average RAS is a 7.51, but I’m betting once Gutey drafts more it will be more like 8.0 or higher. Vertical jump would be the same as with the corners. The lowest broad jump was 9’11”, all the rest are 10’3″ or more so I would start with at least 10′. It’s a similar situation at safety with the broad jumps.

On to the 40! The slowest 40-yard dash since Gutekunst took over is a 4.56, and I would say that is probably where their threshold is for the corners. With regards to the safeties, the slowest was a 4.62 under Ted Thompson, but all the others were 4.56 or faster; so the 4.56 would be a good starting point, as well.

For the agility testing, the slowest short-shuttle for a corner was a 4.36, there was also some 4.33, 4.34, so I would say 4.36 is the threshold. At safety the slowest was a 4.4, and, as stated earlier, its probably lower than that now with Gutey, so I would stick with the 4.36. On the 3-cone drill, the slowest was a 7.15, but most corners have tested lower than 7. Similarly with the safeties, the slowest was a 7.16, but most were 7.03 or faster, so I would start there.

Match Made in Kansas City: The Best 2023 NFL Draft Fits

Photo Credit: Shepherd Football

The 2023 NFL Draft is just over 70 days. This cycle has flown by, so as we get into final report season, I am here to give you my favorite team/player fits of the draft. However, I am not taking the easy way out. We all know Bryce Young is a good fit for the Texans — or Bijan Robinson basically anywhere. It’s time to dive deep and find some matches made in heaven or, this year, Kansas City. These are my favorites NFL Draft fits

Best Prospect/Team Fits in 2023 NFL Draft

McVay and a project QB:

Stick with me here. Matthew Stafford is getting old; Sean McVay must be thinking about finding his heir apparent. I know a strong-arm, tough, pretty mobile QB who could really benefit from a mentor. That QB? Shepherd’s Tyson Bagent.

Tyson Bagent is a lot of fun, but he needs some ironing out. Who better to get the best out of a player than Sean McVay? I got to watch Bagent at the Senior Bowl, and you can see that he has the traits. He just needs to be smart and work on placement.

The Rams have a late fifth-round pick, and three sixth-round picks they could snag Bagent with.

A bell cow in Buffalo:

I would just like to remind the Bills of two things:

  1. Josh Allen is not a running back
  2. You play outdoors in Buffalo… WHICH IS PERFECT FOR A POWER BACK.

Now that we got that out of the way, how about we add a power back and get this train moving in the right direction again, okay? Texas’ Roschon Johnson would be perfect in Buffalo. The Bills could get him late day 2, plug him into their lineup, and would completely revitalize their run game with one draft pick.

Mahomes’ New Weapon

It has been rather obvious the Chiefs are lacking in the wide receiver department. Even though they made the Super Bowl, MVP Patrick Mahomes needs new threats downfield. Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas would be a perfect fit for the Chiefs.

Iosivas is similar to Christian Watson, who KC brought on a top 30 visit last year. He is fast, a great deep threat with good ball skills, and would be a great option to improve on the corps of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

These are just the first few NFL Draft fits that I love. There are many more where these came from — whether it’s a new “Legion Of Boom” or literally any wide receiver and the Giants. Stay tuned for more!

Stock up, stock down after the 2023 Senior Bowl: The trenches shine in Mobile

No group had bigger crowd around them at practices in Mobile than the trenches. Which guys hurt or helped their stock this week?

The Senior Bowl is an event like no other. The entire NFL gathers in South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney stadium, which is decked out in bright orange, for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Countless teams head to Mobile are looking for players to lead their franchise to wins. Most importantly, those wins start in the trenches. The offensive and defensive lines are surrounded by countless coaches and scouts for the entirety of practice. Which monsters in the trenches helped or hurt their stock at the Senior Bowl this week?

Senior Bowl Trenches: Stock Up, Stock Down

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Hurt: Andre Carter, EDGE, Army 

Andre Carter is a name that has seen some considerable buzz throughout this draft cycle. He has been mocked in the first round for months, but hit some bumps in the road. Prior to the season ending, legislation passed that would have prohibited Carter from declaring for the NFL draft prior to completing his military service.

Fortunately for Carter, a new bill allowed him to be grandfathered in and will allow him to play under the conditions that were in place when he signed in 2019.

In Mobile, Carter struggled mightily. Upon seeing him in person, Carter looked noticeably thin. His frame is massive, and there is certainly room to add mass, but he looked incredibly lean. He is certainly quick, and he used his length well to win on a handful of reps.

However, when people were able to get their hands on him, primarily Dawand Jones and Cody Mauch, he was put on a highlight tape. Jones drove him right out of bounds in a run drill, and Mauch put him on the ground the next day. 

Helped: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch did a good bit to help his draft stock this week. To start off, Mauch was voted Offensive Line Practice Player of the Week by the defensive line and linebackers. Mauch is a tweener, with not enough length to play tackle and possibly not enough weight to play guard. His best position still projects as guard, but he did take several reps at center, as well. 

Mauch was far from perfect, and certainly had some reps he wanted back, but there was overwhelmingly more good than bad. His versatility makes him an incredibly intriguing prospect. There were some incredible reps in one-on-ones at left guard, including a pancake against the aforementioned Andre Carter. 

Helped: John Michael Schmitz, OC, Minnesota 

John Michael Schmitz could have his own article about his Senior Bowl week. For lack of a better word, he was fantastic; simple as that. Schmitz came in and measured at over 6’3”, 306 pounds. There is also some thought out there that Schmitz can also play guard. He would likely be great at that spot as well. Schmitz rarely lost a rep in Mobile. He won in one-on-ones, he won on stunt drills, and he won in team drills. 

He also showed his nasty streak in finishing countless reps. His personality also started to show quite a bit. Schmitz was a vocal leader on the field all week, and after successful plays, was seen bringing energy and high-fiving the rest of the offensive line.

For example, on a screen pass, he decleated a linebacker and then, when going to finish the block, was heard yelling all the way from the media bleachers. The center is the de-facto leader of the offensive line and Schmitz is the personality that has the ability to step into an offensive line room as a rookie and quickly become an alpha.