Way Too Early Falcons Dueling Mock Drafts

Ladies and Gentlemen, nothing screams a week 1 overreaction like a Way Too Early Mock. After the major let down that the Falcons had week 1 against the Eagles, 32-6 loss at home, Adam Holloway (@Damski32 on Twitter) and I decided to kick back and have some fun with RiseNDraft.com’s mock draft simulator. We each ran two separate mocks, only four rounds long, and ran it differently to show the possibilities on the board for Atlanta. So lets get this underway:

Hunter Thompson Mock

In my mock, I chose to go with a route that many fans may not love at first glance. I don’t really bolster the trenches early, I grab Matt Ryan’s successor even though we may have more pressing needs, and I grabbed a couple of the more “raw” prospects that fill more of a role than can become immediate starters. It isn’t necessarily as flashy as some, but I do think a mock like this would do wonders for filling out the roster and giving our Falcons a solid foundation to be building on:

Round 1 Pick 6: Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

Right, its not someone to add to the trenches, but hear me out. Hamilton is one of, if not the best, prospect in this upcoming draft class. Hamilton is a 6’4″ 220lb safety that can do it all. He can be the TE eraser, he can step up in the box, he runs the single high, he can blitz, and his tackling is top tier. He has six interceptions in his collegiate career already (four as a true freshman and already two on this young season). Giving the Falcons a budding safety trio of Hamilton, Richie Grant, and Jaylinn Hawkins would give Dean Pees the ability to create all kinds of different defensive looks and mismatches. Plus Hamilton is an Atlanta kid, so that’s just an added bonus.

Round 2 Pick 37: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Once again, not trenches but once again, hear me out. Matt Ryan isn’t getting any younger and him currently behind this offensive line is not a good recipe for extending his shelf life. Here we have the Falcons grabbing Matt Corral from Ole Miss. Corral is one of the most exciting QB’s in this upcoming draft class. He has a great arm and is mobile enough to extend the pocket and make all the throws on the field. Corral is a vocal and charismatic player who could bring a lot of fun energy to the Falcons while providing us the opportunity to stabilize the position for the long term. Only con to Corral is that a redshirt year would really really benefit him because as high as his highs are, his lows are incredibly low.

Round 2 Pick 43: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Finally got to the trenches. First let me clarify, I am a Kaleb McGary believer so this pick could easily change as the season goes on. But, right now the OL needs a remodel. Matthews and Lindstrom are the only current players I am convinced are worth keeping, and there wasn’t a great iOL on the board so looks like McGary is the odd man out in this mock. Faalele is a monster of a human being measuring in at 6’8″ 370lbs. He didn’t look amazing in 2019, but came out firing on all cylinders this season looking so much better. He has long arms and has a good base in pass pro, not to mention he is an absolute mauler in the run game. Adding Faalele to the Falcons OL would be a good step to helping Smith and Fontenot in turning this team into a contender.

Round 3 Pick 68: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

The former number one overall prospect, Nolan Smith has been a little underwhelming so far in his UGA career. But Smith is looking to turn those fortunes around this season. In his season opener against Clemson, he was constantly generating pressure for the Bulldogs defense, with three tackles and a sack. Smith is a smaller EDGE at 6’3″ 235lbs who could be a good DPR (Designated Pass Rusher) for the defense that Atlanta is trying to build. Smith is raw and has plenty of areas to improve, but we grab him in the third to help our underwhelming pass rush.

Round 4 Pick 105: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

And the last pick in this mock I have the Falcons grabbing DL Zacch Pickens from the university of South Carolina. The former 5-star recruit is incredibly similar to Nolan Smith in the sense that we are still waiting for them to burst out. But Pickens looks like he is starting to do it. Pickens, the 6’4″ 305lb DL, is a solid run defender who could be a good rotational piece along the DL with guys like Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, and Grady Jarrett already in place to help further his development. Pickens needs to really improve as a pass rusher, to be justified at this pick, but it’s week 1 and I am banking on his growth as a player this year.

Adam Holloway Mock

Round 1 Pick 6: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

  • Evan Neal presents something that ATL hasn’t had since the Bob Whitfield days, and that’s a legit body mover. Neal is about to forklift defenders and acts like a bouncer and takes his opponents out of the club. Has massive size and when he gets his massive hands on you it’s basically over. Has incredible ability to finish blocks and asserts himself physically.

Round 2 Pick 37: Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

  • Jordan Davis gives you some moxie on the DL in the form of a NT. Davis isn’t your typical NT; he’s the new era of NT who can be effective in the pass game as well. With an undersized NT now in Tyler Davison, it’s clear the defense struggle to maintain gap control with linebacker Deion Jones. Not only does Davis help the DL and give Pees a key cog in the middle, but he’ll help see less double teams.

Round 2 Pick 43: Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama

  • Jordan Battle gives ATL a much needed Swiss Army knife on the backend and a tone setter in the secondary. Battle is really coming along in man and zone coverage but he’s also a load in the box. Battle doesn’t shy away from tackle and relishes the idea of taking on a RB in the hole. Atlanta lacks this kind of player and double dipping into Alabama’s program really sets the team up for the future.

Round 3 Pick 68: Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame

Williams gives you that hard running outside zone RB who can hit a hole fast and on time. Arthur Smith also puts a huge emphasis on RBs blocking out of the backfield and can do that. Also features soft hands receiving. What really stands out to me is his patience and explosion; he can take off quickly and is effective at setting up his blockers.

Round 4 Pick 105: Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana

The 6’2″ 215lb boundary WR from Indiana could be a solid running mate to pair with Calvin Ridley and give Matt Ryan a safety net target and a new potential weapon for inside the red zone. Ryan has typically struggled in the red zone, so another big WR with solid hands is a good fit. We have to add weapons who can impact the short term and long term pictures, Fryfogle does that.

Atlanta Falcons Week 1 Reactions

Hello Falcons fans, this dreary and depressing column is going to be going over our season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. For those who chose not to watch the game or couldn’t watch the game, you didn’t really miss much. The Falcons lost our home opener in the Benz, 32-6 against the Eagles. It was ugly, it was painful, and it felt like a straight up slap in the face. But there were some bright spots and some small glimmers of hope for our emotionally toxic team.

When the game kicked off there was plenty of excitement inside the Benz because we had yet to see the starters really play this preseason due to Arthur Smith wanting to make sure we came into the season without injuries, which we luckily did not have any significant injury impact a star player. But this tactic of resting the starters came with its own repercussion in the sense that this team was incredibly rusty and just came out flat against the Eagles.

The Offense

Seeing the offensive that we were all expecting to look so much better this season because of a new play caller in Arthur Smith absolutely drop the ball week 1 in front of our own fans was not pretty. The opening two drives by the Falcons looked pretty efficient until they got into the Red zone, and then the normal red zone woes really started. The Falcons had some brutal penalties move them back any time they hit the red zone. But even without those penalties, we struggled with the play calling and execution. There was one TE Leak to Hurst which looked like it would do something, then we had to settle with a field goal because we couldn’t do a thing once we got closer.

Another major issue was after the first two drives when we were no longer calling the scripted plays that we came into the game with. Smith looked like he had no way to even attempt to offset the Eagles defense. I might be slightly over reacting, but that is a concern for me. Smith needs to figure out a way to get the offense clicking if he even wants a shot beating Tampa next week.

I will say though, it is tough for any offense to get firing when your offensive line is getting beaten constantly. Jalen Mayfield at left guard was like one of those fancy revolving doors at a nice classic hotel. There were plenty of times that the play calling and coaching staff would leave Mayfield on an island against Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave which didn’t end well for Matt Ryan.

Atlanta Falcons Jalen Mayfield needs to be directed to the bench

Speaking of Ryan, he had a rough outing against the Eagles. He went 21/35 for 164 yds and 0 TD’s and 0 INT’s. Was it due to the offensive line struggling? I am sure that had something to do with it. But in general a quarterback getting the kind of money that Matt Ryan is getting paid should be elevating the team, but that is an article for another time… The Falcons needed Ryan to play better against the Eagles. At this point we have to hope that Smith and Ryan get on the same page and can figure out the offense’s woes.

But there were some bright spots in this game on the offense. The Falcons offense relied heavily on the play action game which is incredibly refreshing to see after the Dirk Koetter era. Another bright spot was seeing both Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson have an impact on the ground, over 100 yards combined which was nice to see.

The other big bright spot I saw on the offense, was the two tight end sets and plays that were called that got Hurst and Pitts open in space, I talked about the TE leak play to Hurst, but plays like that one, that get our big athletic TE’s moving in space looked good and look like they should be a staple of the offense going forward.

The Defense

Another painful piece of the loss was the defense. The pass rush was none existent and Dean Pees could not figure out a way to stop Jalen Hurts who had over 320 yards by himself. There were some frustrating moments from Deion Jones as he would get himself caught in traffic which in turn would move him out of the play.

But the pass rush being non existent was incredibly disappointing to see. Hopefully we can see them turn it around over the next few weeks but right now I was unimpressed. Fowler and Means didn’t look like they were able to get much going which leaves me very concerned, because if we have another season of Grady Jarrett being our only player who can generate a pass rush we are going to be in for a rough time as fans.

One of the good spots of the defense was our CB play between Oliver, Moreau, and Terrell. They were constantly doing a good job of staying with their mans and didn’t allow a big play. They’re going to have a tough test next week against Tampa Bay’s trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, but I am excited to see how they do.

All in all, the Falcons set the bar incredibly low Week 1 against the Eagles. And if this game was an indicator for the season going forward, we as fans will have a rough year. Hopefully we see them turn it around and put on a better performance on the field, but if for some reason they don’t, at least we have draft season right?

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Solutions to the Falcons Backup Quarterback Problem

The Atlanta Falcons have an interesting situation going on inside their Quarterback room; they have an experienced starter in Matt Ryan, they have a career backup in AJ McCarron, and they signed Undrafted Free Agent Feleipe Franks to be their 3rd string project Quarterback. It sounds like a normal situation, but neither McCarron or Franks have proven that they can be the number two quarterback behind the Falcons legendary number 2.

Can Feleipe Franks' legs carry him closer to backup quarterback job?

In today’s NFL the backup quarterback is slowly becoming a somewhat premium position. You want a quarterback that could step in and fill in for you and your team in a pinch if anything were to happen to your franchise guy. Sometimes that backup role is filled by a former starter who might have just lost his ability, sometimes it is filled by a project quarterback who the team hopes will develop into something worthwhile, and other times it is filled by a career clipboard holder who knows the ins and outs of the offense and can run it at a serviceable level. Let’s take a look at some guys the Falcons could target to solidify the question mark holding the clipboard.

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is a former first round pick who many touted as the safest QB selection in 2018 NFL Draft, myself included in that. Rosen was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals old regime who quickly moved on from him as they drafted Kyler Murray in 2019. Rosen then went to the Dolphins where we struggled to earn reps against Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Why am I talking about a bust being able to help solidify the Falcons QB room? Well when Rosen declared for the NFL Draft, he was talked about being one of the smartest QB’s in the classes and was constantly compared to Falcons great Matt Ryan. Adding Rosen to the QB room in an offense that has similarities to his current one in San Francisco could make for a smooth transition into our QB competition while providing the opportunity to be mentored by Matt Ryan.

Then when you factor the Niners drafting Trey Lance while still having Jimmy Garoppolo on roster, it looks like Rosen is on the outside looking in once again. Rosen looks like a current long shot to make the Niners roster, which could be a nice bargain bin find for the Falcons.

Robert Griffin III

If the Falcons wanted to go the route of adding a more seasoned veteran to sit behind Ryan, they could very easily go the route of former Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. The former second over pick by Washington has had some injury concerns derail what looked to be a promising NFL career. RG3 got let go from Washington in 2015 and has floated around the league signing with the Browns and the Ravens.

RG3 falls into the category of guys who were former starters and lost the ability to be a starter. He has experience in multiple offenses and has some significant game experience the question with him, is how can his body hold up, and can he still play at a high enough level to warrant a roster spot.

If the Falcons felt that RG3 could be a serviceable backup for the team, he would be a decent scheme fit with the offense that Arthur Smith will be implementing.

Logan Woodside/Matt Barkley

I doubt Tennessee keeps both of these Quarterback’s on roster. Woodside looked very good against the Falcons defense the other night going 10-15 for 84 yards and a touchdown. Woodside gives us a younger signal caller who could potentially develop into a career QB2 or for our team.

Matt Barkley is the flip side of this providing a career backup who could step in during a pinch. Barkley has had that role most of his NFL career in Philly and Buffalo and now Tennessee. For context Barkley went 5/8 for 54 yards with a touchdown against our Atlanta defense.

I will say that neither of these options is super appealing, but both should be looked at as options to beat out AJ McCarron for the job. Barkley will be similar to Chase Daniel/Colt McCoy in the sense of providing quality veteran depth who could also feature as a future mentor. While Woodside gives a more of a long-term solution to the backup QB issue.

Whichever Bills Quarterback Gets Cut

The Bills have Jake Fromm, Mitch Trubisky, and Davis Webb all competing for the number 2 and 3 slots behind Josh Allen. All three of these Quarterbacks have the potential to be cut with Trubisky being the least likely. Which leaves the roster bubble names as Davis Webb and Jake Fromm. UGA fans should be pretty familiar with Jake Fromm who was a starter for the Bulldogs for a few seasons.

He is a typical game manager who may not be head and shoulders over McCarron, but he is an upgrade. He is a limited athlete who uses his IQ and intangibles to lead the offense. He makes safe conservative passes to chip away at the defense. What makes Fromm appealing is that Arthur Smith’s offense would be a play to Fromm’s strengths as a passer and as a quarterback.

Davis Webb is very very similar to Jake Fromm, just more experience as a clipboard holder. Very similar as a passer, Webb is more accuracy and a limited athlete. So no matter which Buffalo cuts, if either, we would be adding a safe conservative passer who doesn’t have any athletic ability to take over games. But both are fairly smart passers who are safe with the ball.

Kurt Benkert

Will this happen? Probably not. There is a strong chance that the Packers run with 3 quarterbacks so he might not even be available. But if Kurt Benkert were to become available the Falcons need to make the call. Benkert has become one of the league’s favorite backups due to his Video Game streaming and his fun personality.

Kurt Benkert was a Falcon for the past couple of seasons competing for a roster spot. He is a more athletic passer than some of the other names on the list and would be a nice scheme fit for the Arthur Smith offense with his ability to be more mobile like what Smith had with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee with his ability to escape and expand the pocket with his legs. Benkert also has a very solid arm to pair with his mobility.

What makes Benkert so appealing is that he is familiar with the Falcons organization with being here from 2019-2020. However that is also part of the reason it’s so tricky to potentially bring back Benkert. It’s an entirely different regime who decided he was expendable when they took over. Which is part of the issue in our backup Quarterback hunt. However if there was even a shot to bring Benkert back into Atlanta, the Falcons should jump on it.

Gardner Minshew II

This is my dream scenario out of this list. But it is also probably the least likely to happen. Minshew is currently “battling” for the number 1 job in Jacksonville. I use the term battling loosely due to Trevor Lawrence being drafted 1st overall in the most recent draft class.

In this hypothetical situation we will say Minshew loses the battle for the sake of the discussion, which is what will probably happen. But, Minshew is a 25 year old QB who has starting experience in both 2019 and 2020, compiling a stat line of: 5530 yards, 37 TD’s, 11 INT’s, completion percentage of 62.9% and a QBR of 93.1 through 20 career starts. Which is very solid for what he had to work with in Jacksonville during his time there.

Minshew is an accurate passer who has the confidence and swagger to lead the offense in a pinch or for a stretch of games. He has the gunslinger mentality to match his mullet which could add some personality to to the Falcons locker room. I personally would just love to see the personality switch from Ryan to Minshew if they ever rotate during games. But that’s just more of a pipe dream than anything.

Minshew could potentially give the Falcons a way to move on from Matt Ryan at the end of his tenure while providing competent Quarterback to replace him with, without having to give up major capital. The biggest issue with Minshew is we aren’t quite sure if Jacksonville will even want to sell on him because they may want him to help mentor Trevor Lawrence. And at that same time, if they wanted to sell we aren’t sure what pick they would want. I’ll play it safe and assume the Jags would want a day 2 pick for a 25 year old QB who could be a starter.

Which of these Quarterbacks do you think would be the best addition to Atlanta’s locker room to backup Matty Ice? Did I forget a name you wanted? Do you have any criticism or comments? Well let us know @falcons_atb on Twitter!

Takeaways from the Falcons First Preseason Game

The Falcons first game in the Arthur Smith era had some incredibly mixed results. For those who didn’t watch or haven’t seen it, the final score was 23-3 Titans with the win. While we didn’t see many starters out there last night for either team, some believe it was a “gentlemen’s agreement” of sorts between two coaching staffs that have familiarity with each other. Even though we didn’t see starters we got to see plenty of guys who we are expecting to have some form of a role this season for our Falcons, anyway on to our thoughts:

Who stood out during Falcons preseason game vs. Titans

First Look at Dean Pees’s Defense

The Falcons defense actually looked aggressive last night in the first game of Dean Pees calling the shots, especially on third downs. The past couple of seasons with Dan Quinn we saw a pretty soft defense that would sit back and only rush 3 or 4 on third downs. Dean Pees is not that. We saw Pees sending pressure from all over the defense. We saw A Gap blitzes, safety blitzes, plenty of stunts across the DL and EDGE’s, and honestly just a defense that looked more aggressive out there. The Falcons ended up having 4 sacks last night with the makeshift defense we were running. Imagining what the defense will look like with starters in as opposed to the backups will be fun.

The Offensive Line has NO Depth

Last night we saw both AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks running for their lives behind the makeshift offensive line we had compiled together. Which might not be a concern for some since it’s just backups and camp bodies. But there were some guys we are expecting to either push for starting jobs or play significant backup roles. Jalen Mayfield was ROUGH at right tackle last night, one play in particular he got beat on a bull rush then tossed to the side. Mayfield wasn’t the only OL to disappoint last night either. Fellow rookie Drew Dalman also disappointed with his play last night. And current swing tackle Willie Beavers looked lackluster with his responsibilities. This lack of talent has me very concerned about anyone that may have to step in if an injury to a starter occurs. With us being the Falcons, I’m sure an injury or two will happen, and this OL group can’t handle that.

Ade Ogundeji and JTM Mean Business

Is it weird saying I feel a lot better about our edge situation after last night? Ogu has really proven me wrong from what I’ve heard during TC and saw last night. He and JTM were giving the Titans offensive line fits last night. Both of their motors were running hot for every snap. I think these two could see significant snaps in the base defense while rotating out with Dante Fowler in passing downs. Are either of thee guys future All Pro’s? Probably not, but if the news around them in TC and how they looked last night is true, they should be decent starters for us.

QB2 is Anything but Figured Out

The Falcons signed AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks to fight it out for the QB2 spot behind Matt Ryan after Matt Schaub finally decided to hang up his cleats and clipboard. And well… Neither one really stole the show. It was difficult to evaluate them due to the poor offensive line play we talked about earlier. However that doesn’t really excuse the fact we don’t have a clear cut QB2. It should probably be AJ McCarron but Feleipe Franks has apparently looked very good in Training Camp. It’s a hard thing to be asking ourselves because of a few different things. First, injuries happen in football, and if we are trying to win now and anything happens to Ryan, I don’t believe either of these two QB’s are serviceable options for the Falcons. Second of all, Matt Ryan is 36. Which is not necessarily old by NFL QB standards, but he isn’t young anymore. And it seems that neither McCarron or Franks have a shot at claiming the Heir to the Throne title here in Atlanta.

What did you think of the Falcons first preseason game under Arthur Smith? Let us know at @falcons_atb on Twitter!