Falcons NFL Draft Big Board: 30 players to watch for positions of need

INDIANAPOLIS — New Atlanta Falcons coach Raheem Morris has a lot of decisions to make, the most important being how to reshape a roster that his new bosses believe is close to contention but has some obvious holes.

The most obvious is at quarterback, and the process of evaluating the available quarterbacks — and prospects at all positions — begins in earnest this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In addition to quarterback, the Falcons will be looking to add at wide receiver, edge rusher, cornerback and linemen of one kind or the other. With that in mind, here are 30 players we’ll be watching closely in Indianapolis this week, broken into those expected to be available on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3. (Prospects listed in alphabetical order.)


Falcons mailbag: Where should Atlanta look to find its next quarterback?

Day 1 options — Round 1

If the Falcons don’t acquire a quarterback in free agency, they will almost certainly have to take one in the first round. If they do get a quarterback in March, there are other options.

Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

The Falcons don’t need a tackle right now (probably), but they can’t count on Jake Matthews’ ironman streak to continue forever, and you can’t have too many tackles. There’s also this: Atlanta will throw the ball more under new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson than it did the last three seasons, and the current offensive line’s pass protection could be better. The 6-foot-7, 322-pound Alt could help.

Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

If the Falcons could be tempted into using their first-round pick on defense, it might be Arnold who does it. The 6-foot, 195-pounder has traits tailor-made for the position and could become a Day 1 starter for a team that needs coverage help. This would be a long shot for Atlanta, though.

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner is a dynamic athlete who passed for 3,812 yards and ran for another 1,134 last season at LSU. The 6-3, 205-pounder completed 72.2 percent of his passes in a Tigers offense that forced him to go through NFL-type passing progressions, and he played 55 games in a five-year college career at Arizona State and LSU.



How NFL teams can navigate intangibles of QB evaluation, starting with Bears at No. 1

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The 6-3, 197-pounder might end up being one of the combine’s biggest risers as quarterback-needy teams like the Falcons talk themselves into his combination of athleticism and leadership. McCarthy led the Wolverines to a 15-0 national championship season last year and was 27-1 as a starter at Michigan, but the offense didn’t run through him, so questions remain whether he can carry a unit.

Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The 6-foot, 200-pounder already is closing the gap on Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. for the distinction of best wide receiver in this class, and he might close it more with a good performance in Indianapolis. He led the FBS in 20-plus-yard catches last season and would add an explosive element Atlanta’s offense needs.

Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Though Nabers would give the Falcons a complement to Drake London, Odunze might give them another London, which would not be bad. Like their current No. 1 wide receiver, the 6-3, 217-pound Odunze is a well-rounded receiver who makes a lot of contested catches. If he runs a fast 40-yard dash, he could enter the Harrison-Nabers conversation.

Kamari Lassiter Georgia Todd Kirkland Getty Images 1 scaled

Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter could be a Day 2 option for the Falcons. (Todd Kirkland / Getty Images)

Day 2 options — Rounds 2-3

Everything hinges on the first round. If that pick is a quarterback, then Atlanta will need to address wide receiver in rounds 2 or 3 or even both. The good news is there will be some good ones available.

Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

This is not a deep defensive tackle class. The 6-2, 280-pounder is the sixth-rated interior defensive lineman on Dane Brugler’s Big Board, and if the Falcons are going to address this position in the draft, Day 2 might be the right time.

Kalen King, CB, Penn State

The 5-11, 191-pounder might be available in the third round, which would have seemed odd a year ago when he was considered one of the top upcoming cornerbacks, but he still can play the position.

Marshawn Kneeland, edge, Western Michigan

The 6-3, 268-pounder has long arms and heavy hands, and he’s big enough to play with his hand down in a three-man front. He had 12 1/2 sacks in four years in college.

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The 6-foot, 180-pounder comes out of a Georgia program that gets defensive backs ready for the NFL, and he has enough natural ability to be a Day 1 starter.



Falcons mock draft 1.0: Will they wait until April to find their next quarterback?

Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

The 6-1, 223-pounder stayed for a fifth year in college and made it count. After catching 42 passes in his first four seasons at South Carolina, Legette caught 71 for 1,255 yards in 2023.

Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

The 6-foot, 193-pounder would be a step down from the Tier 1 wide receivers, but he was productive at Arizona State and Florida. He had 65 catches for 965 yards for the Gators last year and is a great contested-catch winner.

Andru Phillips, CB, Kentucky

The 5-10, 191-pounder is No. 69 in Brugler’s top 100, but he could be a fast riser at the combine. He’s athletic enough in coverage and physical enough to play nickel right away.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

The 6-foot, 188-pounder had only one interception in four years of college, but Falcons secondary coach Jerry Gray believes great man defenders often don’t have a lot of interceptions, and Rakestraw can play press-man coverage, which would make him a good fit in Atlanta.

Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

Almost 80 percent of the 5-10, 186-pounder’s catches resulted in a first down or a touchdown, but he might be limited to a slot player, which dings his value some.

Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

The “race” for best 40-yard dash time at this combine is going to be fun, and Worthy will be in the mix. If he gets below 4.3, he might not be available on Day 2.

GettyImages 1439336468 scaled e1708888914568

Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis could be a fit for the Falcons in the middle rounds of the draft. (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Day 3 options — Rounds 4-7

At this point, the goal should be simply to find good players. If those good players are really big, that’s all the better.

Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri

The “other” cornerback at Missouri, the 5-11, 173-pound Abrams-Draine had four interceptions and 14 passes defended as a senior.

Sundiata Anderson, edge, Grambling State

The 6-4, 249-pound Georgia native earned some attention at the Shrine Bowl and has the athleticism to be worth a late-round flier.

Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa

The 6-4, 317-pounder would be worth a fifth-round pick if he’s around. A good combine could push him higher than that, though.

DeWayne Carter, DT, Duke

Noticing a trend here? The Falcons, and everyone else, should always be looking to add talented big guys on the line of scrimmage, and the 6-2, 308-pound Carter fits that.



NFL beat writer mock draft: Trades shake up top 10 picks and QB landscape

Nelson Ceaser, edge, Houston

The 6-2, 260-pounder could plug right in at outside linebacker in Atlanta if needed. It might take him a while to catch up in the run game, but he has natural athleticism as a pass rusher.

Tyler Davis, DT, Clemson

Any Falcons fans interested in a mid-round defensive tackle out of Clemson? It’s unfair to think Davis could be the next Grady Jarrett, but the 6-1, 299-pounder played five productive seasons for the Tigers.

Justin Eboigbe, DT, Alabama

The 6-4, 292-pounder is big enough to play in the middle and athletic enough to take snaps outside. A four-star high school prospect, he has an athletic pedigree that might be worth betting on.

Jonah Elliss, edge, Utah

The brother of Falcons middle linebacker Kaden Elliss, the 6-1, 243-pound Jonah could play next to his brother right away in pass-rush situations. He had 12 sacks last season.

Javon Foster, OT, Missouri

At 6-5, 309 pounds, Foster has ideal size and 35-inch arms. If he’s around in the fifth round or later, it would be a good value pick for the Falcons.

Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame

Depending on how free agency plays out, Atlanta might need more special teams bodies, and the 6-2, 204-pounder could do that right away. His size makes him a good gamble at corner, too.

Jordan Jefferson, DT, LSU

He’s 6-2, 323 pounds, which makes him a much better size fit at nose tackle than his teammate Mekhi Wingo. Still, he’s expected to be available much later.

Michael Pratt, QB, Tulane

In 2012, Washington took Robert Griffin III in the first round and Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. There’s some wisdom in stockpiling quarterbacks.

Jaylin Simpson, S, Auburn

This is not a strong safety draft, but the 6-foot, 178-pound Simpson brings enough versatility to make him valuable. He could play anywhere from deep safety to nickel and cornerback in a pinch.

Mehki Wingo, DT, LSU

At 6-1, 295 pounds, Wingo doesn’t have ideal nose tackle size, but he might be available on Day 3 because of that. If he is, he’s worth a look.

(Top photos of LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images and Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top