I believe Darron Lee is one of the players the Falcons are targeting at No. 17. He's such a great fit for their defense, and he happens to fill a huge need in their linebacking corps. He's also exactly what the front office covets from an athleticism standpoint. I think Atlanta would rather have Shaq Lawson, but Lee isn't a bad consolation prize.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Shaq Lawson, DE - This is probably the latest Shaq Lawson can go. I can't imagine the Falcons passing on him if he happened to be available.
2. Jonathan Bullard, DT - The Falcons could use an interior rusher, and Bullard has the athleticism that they covet.
William Moore was too injury-prone to rely upon, so the Falcons parted ways with him this offseason. All they have now are a couple of mediocre players at safety, so they could use a dynamic play-maker at the position.
Rd. 3, Pk. 18
Bronson Kaufusi, DE/3-4DE, BYU
The Falcons desperately need to upgrade their pass rush. I mentioned someone like Shaq Lawson in Round 1. Bronson Kaufusi makes a ton of sense here as well.
Rd. 4, Pk. 17
Joe Thuney, G, N.C. State
The Falcons made an important signing this offseason when acquiring Alex Mack, but they still need one more improvement on the interior of the offensive line to help Matt Ryan.
Atlanta has a lot of needs, with some improved linebackers being one of the most important. The Falcons could use a sideline-to-sideline, difference-making, fast defender who will bring an identity to their defense.
In 2015, Lee totaled 66 tackles with 11 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one interception - returned 41 yards for a touchdown. He had a great combine performance with a lightning-fast 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash and a strong showing in the field work.
The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder was the Buckeyes' replacement for Ryan Shazier in 2014, and while Lee wasn't as good as Shazier, Lee had a superb debut for Ohio State with plenty of upside to make strides in the future. He totaled 81 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up, two interceptions and 7.5 sacks for the season.
Rd. 2, Pk. 19
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/3-4OLB, Oklahoma State
The Falcons must upgrade their pass rush, so here's an edge rusher to go with Vic Beasely.
Ogbah totaled 64 tackles, 17.5 for a loss, three forced fumbles and 13 sacks in 2015. He was a force in the pass rush while being solid in run defense. The 6-foot-4, 273-pounder broke out for the Cowboys in 2014 with 11 sacks, 49 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five passes batted.
Ogbah has speed to go with size. While he isn't a blinding speed rusher, he has a decent first-step with enough quickness to win around the corner. Ogbah also has the power to beat tackles with a bull rush or a strong rip move. He was very consistent and steady for Oklahoma State in his production, but he needs to get more consistent on a down-by-down basis. At the combine, Ogbah put his excellent skill set on display and showed he has upside to develop.
Rd. 3, Pk. 18
Justin Simmons, S, Boston College
The Falcons have a big hole at safety and have shown interest in Simmons.
Some sources say they have Simmons as a late-rounder who could compete as a backup safety and special teams contributor. Other teams have him in the mid-rounds. He had a quality week at the East-West Shrine. As a senior, Simmons racked up 67 tackles with five interceptions and two breakups. He totaled 76 tackles with two picks and five breakups in 2014. At the combine, Simmons (6-2, 202) put together a respectable showing.
Rd. 4, Pk. 17
Tajae Sharpe, WR, Massachusetts
The Falcons signed Mohamed Sanu, but it wouldn't hurt to add more talent to improve their receiving corps.
Sources from multiple teams were raving about Sharpe at the East-West Shrine. The 6-foot-2, 189-pounder has quickness to go with good size and length. Sharpe had a superb week and caught the heck out of ball. As one scout said, "He's been dominating these DBs all week." Sharpe gets separation and is a smooth receiver. He really helped his draft stock at the East-West Shrine.
The senior had 111 receptions for 1,319 yards with five touchdowns in 2015, so he has good production as well. One team said Sharpe is probably an early third-day pick and shouldn't go any lower than the fifth round.
Freak. Athlete. No better way of describing this guy. He ran an absolutely blazing fast 4.47 40 at a very well build 6’1” 232 pounds and truly shows that type of speed on the tape as well. Not just a workout warrior either as he consistently made plays on the loaded buckeyes defense over the course of his career. He’s not a perfect tackler yet and definitely needs some work on his technique but he’s got all the instincts and natural ability that you can’t teach. One of the rangiest defensive players in this draft and a PERFECT fit as a 4-3 weak side Outside Linebacker, especially in coach Dan Quinn’s scheme. The best word to describe a Dan Quinn coached defense is probably “swarming” as his players all are so fast and so quick to the ball and never take plays off. That’s the exact role that Darron Lee is meant to fill in the NFL. He could stand to add some strength for sure but assuming he does and it doesn’t take away much of his speed, this kid could really be special. Great fit here for Atlanta.
Despite putting a second round tender on Paul Worrilow, the Atlanta Falcons have a gaping hole at the middle linebacker position. The aforementioned Blue Hen of Delaware has been very mediocre at the position and is better suited as a backup and core special teamer. On the other hand, Reggie Ragland, a two-time All-American for the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, has proven to be a force at middle linebacker and is a lock as a first rounder.
1. Darron Lee - If available, the Ohio State linebacker is likely to be the pick. He fits a little better in Atlanta's defense and has a higher value.
2. Eli Apple - The Falcons have spent numerous early picks on defensive backs, but still struggle defensing the pass. Another first rounder might help and Eli Apple is one of the top players on the board.
3. Leonard Floyd - Despite taking Vic Beasley, a very similar player, in the first round last year, the Falcons have expressed considerable interest in the Georgia pass rusher.
The Falcons are a better team than their record showed if they played at their full potential they likely would have had double digit wins. Both the offense and defense faltered mid season and their late season push wasn't enough to get into the playoffs. They need help in multiple positions on defense and one position they need filled is defensive end and they get Shaq Lawson here. Lawson was a dominant player at Clemson and with his college teammate Vic Beasley they can become a dominant pass rushing duo that can remove the Falcons from the bottom of the sack list.
The Falcons don't have as many holes
in their roster as many say, but the holes that
they do have, just happen to be consistent and
it takes 11 solid players on both sides to make it
farther than they have been in the season. They
need a TE more than anything. The position asks
for pass blocking, run blocking, receiving, and
sometimes asks for pulling or roll-out blocks.
There is only one prospect the Falcons should
have their eye on for tight ends in Henry and
unfortunately is not a first round talent. There
are no longer corners or safeties available that
are worth it at this point as well. With Ragland
gone the Falcons lost the only interior linebacker
worth taking this high. With his talent level,
Cody Whitehair is good enough to be taken here
in my opinion, but most others would disagree.
Alas, the Falcons are left with their old nemesis,
the pass rush. Leonard Floyd has potential to be
a strong OLB as well as be a primary rusher. The
Falcons could use help at both and Floyd is a
wonderful fit in the system and fits a Best Player
Available (BPA) option as well.
Everybody better watch out when Atlanta gets hot on defense. They've already got a decent young core. All they need is 2 years of staying in an effective defensive scheme and they could actually be NFC South contenders. I mean pretenders ahem ahem. Since they got Vic Beasley last year. They'll get Dodd his former teammate to go opposite side as him on the defensive line.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Kevin Dodd Going to Falcons
Rd. 1, Pk. 17
Keanu Neal, S,
Taylor Decker was projected to go in the 14-20 range, so this makes sense as far as that is concerned. He's also a good fit in terms of need. The Lions' pass protection was an abomination at times last year. They needed a left tackle, but weren't going to get that here at No. 16. The right tackle spot had to be addressed as well, however, and the Lions will be better at that spot with Decker. This deserves a solid "B" grade.
Rd. 2, Pk. 21
Deion Jones, OLB,
I was shocked to see the Falcons pass on Darron Lee and reach for Keanu Neal in the first round. This is yet another reach, though not nearly as blatant. Deion Jones seemed like a mid third-round prospect, but he definitely fits a need. It's also not completely surprising to see him chosen, as he fits Atlanta's athleticism requirement. Jones has great upside, but his floor is pretty low as well, as he doesn't seem to have the strength to play very much right now.
I really don't understand why you keep bashing the 49ers contracts. You have to overpay for guys when you have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Beyond that, they have nearly $70 mill in cap space even after free agency, so what's the big deal if they overspend?