Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: Updated 7-Round Projections After East-West Shrine

Christopher Beheler@@CBehelerCorrespondent IIIJanuary 20, 2013

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: Updated 7-Round Projections After East-West Shrine

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    The Atlanta Falcons scouting department had a watchful eye on the 2013 East-West Shrine game. Scouts scour the roster for value picks like Washington Redskins' sixth-rounder Alfred Morris. Morris was a standout in the 2012 East-West Shrine game, and then became the NFL's second leading rusher as a rookie.

    But were there any of these undiscovered gems playing in 2013?

    And how would they affect the Falcons' draft?

    There are three keys to selecting this picks in this mock draft.

    Need might be the most important. There are several holes that the Falcons need to fill immediately or within the foreseeable future.

    Fit is almost equally important. If a player does not fit the system, he will never be great. The Falcons will not overpay for talent that does not fit their system. Look no further than letting Curtis Lofton walk for proof.

    Value might not be as important as the first two criteria, but it will certainly be the deciding factor in close calls.

    (Important note: The Atlanta Falcons might receive compensatory picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. Without  definitive information, those potential picks have been omitted from this mock.)

Wishful Thinking

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    There will be plenty of players the Falcons would love to steal in the 2013 NFL draft. Some players will be taken long before the Falcons will pick. Some players will only be available in the rounds above their value.

    Georgia Bulldogs LB Jarvis Jones would be a Falcons dream in tandem with the standout Sean Weatherspoon. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Jones will disappear long before they reach the podium.

    Certain positions are devalued as well. Running backs and wide receivers seem almost redundant when studying both players and scheme for the Falcons. Despite popular belief, the Falcons have a great safety combo as well. This mock used this as a road map as well.

Round 1: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

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    Most likely, the Falcons' only shot at Margus Hunt will come in the first round. From a scheme standpoint, the 6'7" defensive end might be the best fit of any player in the draft. Hunt has the speed and versatility to be heavily featured in even the most complex of Mike Nolan's schemes.


    The Falcons find that defensive end is a greater need than meets the eye. The Falcons need a consistent pass-rusher to compliment John Abraham. The need is compounded by Abraham's age. At 34, Abraham's days are numbered. The Falcons must begin grooming a replacement.


    Hunt looks like a prototypical player for Nolan's defense. He resembles Kroy Biermann in being a viable option in coverage. He more closely resembles John Abraham in his relentless pursuit of the passer.


    The Falcons first pick is a lot closer to the second round than the beginning of the first round. Expected to go in either the first or second round, Hunt would fall right in line. 

    East-West Shrine Game

    There were no players in the 2013 East-West Shrine game that would have affected this pick.

Round 2: Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers

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    Khaseem Greene might be one of the most intriguing players in the 2013 draft. Greene started as a safety but worked his way up to linebacker. Greene is fast enough to cover athletic tight ends and hits hard enough to bring down bruising runners.

    His tweener nature might see him slip down to the second round.


    The Falcons have a team leader at OLB in Sean Weatherspoon. What they do not have is complimentary talent in a defense that heavily relies on the nickel. Greene could easily fill that need.


    Greene is reminiscent of the Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis. Greene is certainly versatile enough for Nolan's many uses. Greene is also a capable special teams player, which would make him an immediate asset.


    As stated earlier, tweeners tend to fall. This might make Greene a potential steal at the end of the second round.

    East-West Shrine Game

    The East-West Shrine game did not feature a player that would affect this pick.

Round 3: Dallas Thomas, OG/OT, Tennessee

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    The Atlanta Falcons offensive line is lacking in consistency and depth. Dallas Thomas could help provide both. A product of the SEC, Thomas has already faced some of the best and brightest that college has to offer. Thomas has seen significant playing time at both tackle and guard.


    For the Falcons, offensive line is always a need. Even when a starting position is filled, depth can be questionable. When a team's top asset is their quarterback, offensive linemen are always a need. 


    Thomas is a tough, team-first player that would fit right in with the Falcons' mindset. Thomas is a clean player as well.

    Watch the video above. Thomas is able to sustain blocks with using techniques that lead to holding penalties. Falcons HC Mike Smith runs one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. Thomas would help keep it that way.


    Selecting offensive tackles in the first round has become a trend as of late. Since Thomas was moved to guard in 2012, he should fall to the late third round. He may not be a steal but would live up to where he was selected.

    East-West Shrine Game

    The players with third-round potential in the East-West Shrine game would not fit the Falcons' needs.

Round 4: Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas

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    Chris Gragg would appear to be what the Falcons are looking. Gragg provides a tall target that can get yards after the catch. While not the heaviest of tight ends, Gragg is a willing and capable blocker.


    With the inevitable retirement of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons will be seeking a replacement going forward. There is no Tony Gonzalez in this years draft. Gragg, however, could certainly be a building block of the future.


    Gragg would certainly fit the current Falcons scheme. He would be equally adept at run-blocking or making the tough catch across the middle. 


    Gragg most likely will be available in the fourth round. The way general manager Thomas Dimitroff drafts, a fourth-round pick should see significant playing time in his rookie year. Gragg would certainly hold up his end of the bargain.

    East-West Shrine Game

    There was a player who could throw a monkey wrench in the whole process. Boston College TE Chris Pantale had an eye-catching performance in the East-West Shrine game.

    The big-bodied tight end made some impressive catches while knowing he was about to get trucked. With good hands and great focus, Pantale might make a great situational player.

    To further complicate things, Pantale might not have to be taken until the seventh round. Dimitroff could decide to snag both tight ends and let them duke it out in training camp.

Round 5: Lonnie Prior, FB, Florida State

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    Lonnie Pryor is a running back-turned-fullback. He still possesses the speed and hands of a running back though. His team-first attitude facilitated his transition to lead blocker. Pryor has the skills and the mentality to be a play-maker at the next level.


    The Falcons run game suffered when FB Ovie Mughelli was released. Pryor would provide the perfect skill set as the Falcons continue to transition from a run-first team to a pass-first team. 


    Pryor would fit into the Falcons offense easily. Quarterback Matt Ryan loves to spread the ball, and Pryor makes an excellent target. Pryor's speed would help create both holes and misdirection for the running backs.


    Lonnie Pryor is the best fullback in the draft. His position, not his skill, drops him down to the fifth round. The Falcons could easily pick up a starter here in Round 5.

    East-West Shrine Game

    The Falcons might give pause if South Carolina Gamecocks DE Devin Taylor is available here. Taylor looked rough around the edges during the East-West Shrine game. Taylor also showed a relentless side that might stick in Dimitroff's mind here in the fifth round.

Round 6: Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State

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    Josh Boyd is a talented defensive tackle. He uses his big body to clog running gaps on consistent basis. While this limits his pass-rush ability, he still makes the occasional play in the backfield. A product of the SEC, Boyd is used to facing some of the biggest offensive lines in college football.


    The Falcons rely on heavy rotation to keep their defensive line fresh. With trouble stopping the run, the Falcons definitely need more wide-bodied players to slow down some of the bigger backs they face.


    While Boyd does not have the versatility that Dimitroff normally looks for, he would allow other players to become more versatile. Boyd could anchor the middle and allow Justin Babineaux to kick outside during short yardage plays.


    Boyd's value would be accurate here for most teams due to his lack of pass-rush skills. For the Falcons, however, his value would be higher due to his skill set.

    East West Shrine Game

    Running back Christine Michael looked extremely solid in the East-West Shrine game. His skills and attitude could certainly make him a steal if still around at this point. There is something troubling about how he carries the ball. It is hard to put a finger on, but Michael fumbled his first carry before anyone could touch him.

Round 7: Chris Pantale, TE, Boston College

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    Chris Pantale might not be a household name. Boston College was not exactly an offensive powerhouse in 2012. But Pantale has plenty to offer, especially as a potential "Mr. Irrelevant."


    The Falcons like to spread the ball around. They will always have room for players who can catch and block.


    Pantale has the making of the perfect escape option for Matt Ryan. Pantale provides a big target that is willing to take the hit. Pantale's arms do not shorten under pressure. This makes him a great fit just walking on the field.


    Pantale's potential makes him a possible steal. This late in the draft, everyone has value.

    East-West Shrine Game

    Pantale had an eye-opening game. Several times he secured passes knowing his bones were about to be jarred. His high-pressure hands could be invaluable to a comeback team like the Falcons.