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Atlanta Falcons 7-Round Mock Draft with Projected Compensatory Selections

Scott CarasikContributor IIJanuary 23, 2013

Atlanta Falcons 7-Round Mock Draft with Projected Compensatory Selections

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    The Atlanta Falcons are still dealing with the heartbreak of the NFC Championship loss to the 49ers. However, they need to make some picks in the draft that will allow the Falcons to take the next step.

    The Falcons have quite a few needs despite being one of the better teams in the NFL this past season. For the Falcons to take the next step into being a Super Bowl Champion, they will have to fix the following:

    Tight End: Tony Gonzalez retiring will leave a huge hole in the offense. As of now, the Falcons and Chiefs legend looks like he won't be back, so expect Atlanta to take someone to fill the void. If he does come back, Atlanta should still take an apprentice to learn from him for a season.

    Defensive End: Atlanta's biggest problem all season was pass rush. With another edge-rusher, Mike Nolan will be able to open his defense up and actually have multiple blitzing schemes designed around more than just John Abraham.

    Running Back: Michael Turner was obviously on his last legs during the season and didn't perform well until the playoffs. However, with his $5.5 million salary, it's likely his last snap for Atlanta has been played and the Falcons need someone to replace him.

    Linebacker who can cover tight ends: Atlanta's biggest reason as to why it could not stop the offenses of Seattle and San Francisco in the playoffs was the lack of a linebacker who could man up on tight ends. Adding one of these—even if he is just a specialist for certain situations—is needed.

    Defensive Tackle: Atlanta has some solid players at defensive tackle like Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Travian Robertson. However, a big body could be helpful and the Falcons need to try and re-sign Vance Walker this offseason.

    Reserve Wide Receiver: The Falcons need someone who can surprise as the No. 4 wide receiver and provide something that Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Roddy White can't. That is tough to find, and Atlanta could look to free agency and the late rounds to find a pair of players to compete.

    Return Specialist: Atlanta didn't have terrible returners in 2012. It could, however, use a game-changer who could take one to the house at any time.

    Offensive Lineman: There's never enough quality depth. Atlanta could be best served going with a free agent here, though, as the Falcons line needs more of an immediate contributor than someone who will take time to develop.

1st Round, Pick 30: DE Datone Jones

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    University of California, Los Angeles

    6'4", 280 pounds and projected 4.72 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Atlanta's defense needs someone who can get after the passer. Datone Jones may not be a sack artist like Jarvis Jones of UGA was this past season, but he still has the ability to create push in a bull rush and has some good moves from the edge. 

    He also has a ton of positional versatility as he has played nose tackle, under tackle and the defensive end spots in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense. His quickness and strength make him the perfect candidate for the Falcons' strong-side defensive end role. 

    He should eventually end up as a Justin Tuck-style clone as he has the potential to be a guy who sneakily gets seven-to-nine sacks every season and a ton of pressure on the quarterbacks.

     

    College Stats

    Defensive Player

    2012: 14 Games Played, 62 Tackles, 19.0 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 2 Blocked Kicks, 1 catch, 7 yards, 1 touchdown

    2011: 14 Games Played, 41 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 2 Pass Deflections

    2010: Redshirted due to fractured bone in his foot.

    2009: 13 Games Played, 30 Tackles, 11.0 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections

    2008: 10 Games Played, 15 Tackles

     

    Off the Field

    While Datone Jones isn't a team captain, he's very clean off the field. He has no arrests or suspensions. He's also shown hard work on and off the field in the strength and conditioning program, throwing weight and strength on his body every season and consistently improving his on-field results.

2nd Round, Pick 28: TE Travis Kelce

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    University of Cincinnati

    6'5", 260 pounds and projected 4.58 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Travis Kelce would roll right in as the No. 1 tight end. He'd be used every down and all over the different formations much like he was a Cincinnati. His overall ability to catch the ball from anywhere helps him out a ton.

    However, he needs refinement as a route-runner. He's an excellent run- and pass-blocker though. That should be no surprise as he is Jason Kelce's little brother. His play on the field reminds me of another Jason—Jason Witten.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 13 Games Played, 45 Catches, 722 Yards, 8 Touchdowns, 1-of-1 (100 percent) passing, 39 yards, 1 touchdown

    2011: 11 Games Played, 13 Catches, 150 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 1 Kick Return, 13 Yards

    2010: Did Not Play Due To Team Suspension

    2009: 11 Games Played, 1 Catch, 3 Yards, 8 Carries, 47 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

    2008: Redshirted

     

    Off the Field

    His suspension in 2010 was the only thing that could be considered a blemish on his record. He missed the entire season for a violation of team rules (h/t CBS Sports). However, if the Falcons check it out and see that he bounced back nicely, they could be accepting of the minor infraction.

    While he wasn't a team captain in 2012, Kelce was obviously a leader in the locker room as one of the senior members. He's also one of the harder workers on the field as he doesn't take any plays off and is more than willing to line up anywhere to help the team.

3rd Round, Pick 30: RB Marcus Lattimore

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    University of South Carolina

    6'0", 232 pounds and projected 4.50 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    While Marcus Lattimore wouldn't be the No. 1 running back from the onset, he would be allowed to compete for the role. If he is fully healthy, it would not shock anyone to see him earn the bulk of the running down snaps similar to what Michael Turner did.

    However, unlike Turner, Lattimore can catch the ball out of the backfield with no issues or qualms. His abilities as a blocker could only help him there as well. Should he recover fully, he could be the steal of the entire draft.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 10 Games Played, 143 Carries, 662 Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 26 Catches, 173 Yards, Touchdowns

    2011: 7 Games Played, 163 Carries, 818 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 19 Catches, 182 Yards, 1 Touchdowns

    2010: 13 Games Played, 249 Carries, 1197 Yards, 17 Touchdowns, 29 Catches, 412 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

     

    Off the Field

    If there was ever a player who could be considered squeaky clean off the field, it's Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was a team captain for the Gamecocks, an academic All-SEC player and an All-American. He's known for hard work, determination and his toughness. That alone is worth having on a team.

    The only questions people have about him is his injuries and how he will bounce back. Nonetheless, he's already jogging underwater and is expected to be jogging on land soon (h/t NFL.com's Marc Sessler). While he may not be able to run at the combines, he should be able to play at some point in the 2013 seasson.

4th Round, Pick 30: OLB DeVonte Holloman

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    University of South Carolina

    6'1", 246 pounds and projected 4.53 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    DeVonte Holloman would be a designated tight end stuffer and a strong-side linebacker. While he wouldn't start right away, he should easily earn his way onto the field in the nickel packages. His speed and strength combination only help his ability to cover tight ends.

    The massive safety would be best used as a linebacker for the Falcons and could also be a huge asset when Atlanta does its "Amoeba" looks. He can drop deep, blitz or cover a tight end or running back one on one and would excel in a role similar to what Stephen Nicholas played in 2012.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 13 Games Played, 55 Tackles, 8.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 3 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles Forced, 4 Pass Deflections

    2011: 11 Games Played, 51 Tackles, 4.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 Interception, 4 Pass Deflections

    2010: 14 Games Played, 69 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 3 Pass Deflections

    2009: 13 Games Played, 30 Tackles, 1.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 Interceptions, 2 Pass Deflections

     

    Off the Field

    After a driving under the influence arrest before the 2011 season, DeVonte Holloman was suspended for a pair of games. However, he's earned his ability to get back on the field and hasn't had a problem since. 

    Considering it was a one-time incident, this looks like something that the Falcons could sweep under the rug if they fall in love with Holloman's abilities on the field and in Mike Nolan's scheme.

4th Round, Compensatory: NT Kwame Geathers

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    University of Georgia

    6'6", 355 pounds and projected 5.45 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Atlanta had a bottom-five run defense in the NFL this past season. While Datone Jones can help by setting the edge, adding in a true beast in the middle as a run-stuffer can only help long term. Kwame Geathers is best as a rotational player.

    In Atlanta, he would be used as nothing more than a rotational guy and allow the Falcons the ability to run some 3-4 looks with Geathers in the middle and Peters and Babineaux at the ends. He's a big body that Atlanta hasn't had since Grady Jackson in 2008.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 14 Games Played, 40 Tackles, 5.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 6 QB Hurries, 1 Blocked Kick

    2011: 12 Games Played, 14 Tackles, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Pass Deflection

    2010: 8 Games Played, 7 Tackles, 1.5 Tackles for Loss

    2009: Redshirted

     

    Off the Field

    The one time Kwame Geathers was suspended, it was for an incident on the field. He was jostling back and forth with a Vanderbilt center and received a half-game suspension for fighting. Other than that, he tends to fit into the Falcons' character profile.

    The little bit of nastiness on the field shouldn't be penalized either. Atlanta hasn't had anything like that on the team since Harvey Dahl left for St. Louis.

5th Round, Pick 30: TE Michael Williams

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    University of Alabama

    6'6", 269 pounds and projected 4.75 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Wait. Another tight end?

    Yes. Atlanta needs more than just one tight end. While Travis Kelce is very much a clone of Jason Witten, the Falcons would be best served to bring in a blocking specialist like Williams.

    He's not much of a receiver, but he excels on third downs with all four of his third-down catches this past season moving the chains. He can act like a sixth lineman most of the time, and his best role is on play-action passes that trick the defense with his ability to release into the flats.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 14 Games Played, 24 Catches, 183 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

    2011: 13 Games Played, 16 Catches, 191 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 2 Kick Returns, 22 Yards

    2010: 13 Games Played, 8 Catches, 100 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 2 Kick Returns, 15 Yards

    2009: 13 Games Played, 3 Catches, 29 Yards, 2 Kick Returns, 17 Yards

    2008: Redshirted

     

    Off the Field

    A player who has never been arrested or suspended, Michael Williams is an excellent teammate and is perfect for the Falcons off the field. He's a team leader for the Crimson Tide and understands what it means to win national championships as he has been part of three national title teams.

6th Round, Pick 30: WR/RS Chad Bumphis

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    Mississippi State University

    5'10", 200 pounds and projected 4.41 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Return specialist candidate? Check.

    Wide receiver depth? Check.

    Chad Bumphis is a burner who can add yet another deep threat to the Falcons' offense. His routes are still wholly unrefined, but with the proper coaching and mentoring, he could turn into a top-notch slot receiver.

    He also should compete for the punt and kick return roles as he can take either to the end zone on a return for a game-changing touchdown. His best comparison may end up being a poor man's Harry Douglas.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 13 Games Played, 58 Catches, 922 Yards, 12 Touchdowns, 6 Punt Returns, 37 Yards

    2011: 13 Games Played, 25 Catches, 339 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 9 Carries, 28 Yards, 8 Punt Returns, 133 Yards, 1 Touchdown

    2010: 12 Games Played, 44 Catches, 634 Yards, 5 Touchdowns, 19 Carries, 131 Yards, 16 Punt Returns, 137 Yards, 8 Kick Returns, 143 Yards

    2009: 12 Games Played, 32 Catches, 375 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 6 Carries, 73 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 5 Punt Returns, 45 Yards, 16 Kick Returns, 383 Yards

     

    Off the Field

    He was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after the 2011 season (h/t Clarion Ledger's Brandon Marcello). He was also summarily suspended. However, he hasn't had a relapse or been arrested since and has grown into one of the team leaders on a Mississippi State team.

7th Round, Pick 30: DE Quanterus Smith

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    Western Kentucky University

    6'4", 248 pounds and projected 4.64 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Initially, he may not even be able to compete for a roster spot. If his knee is still messed up in training camp, he could be placed on injured reserve and stashed away for a season similar to how the Patriots stashed Jeff Demps this past season.

    However, he is a very good pass-rusher with the ability to get after the quarterback from both sides of the field. He can also lift his hand up and drop into short flat zone coverages if need be and can read screens very well.

     

    College Stats

    2012: 10 Games Played, 38 Tackles, 18.5 Tackles for Loss, 12.5 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 3 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Defensive Touchdown

    2011: 12 Games Played, 38 Tackles, 11.0 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries

    2010: 12 Games Played, 47 Tackles, 10.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Fumbles Forced, 2 Pass Deflections

    2009: 12 Games Played, 12 Tackles, 1.0 Tackles for Loss

    2008: Redshirted

     

    Off the Field

    Quanterus Smith was suspended one game his senior year for a violation of team rules (h/t wkuherald.com). However, that is so broad and could be anything from fighting at practice to not having good grades.

    If everything checks out there, there is no reason to not take him this late. His ACL injury from his senior year is what should cause him to drop, but Atlanta could stash him on the injured reserve for a season as he learns Mike Nolan's defense.

7th Round, Compensatory: CB/RS Tyrann Mathieu

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    Louisiana State University

    5'9", 175 pounds and projected 4.45 in the 40

     

    Role with the Falcons

    Tyrann Mathieu would start out on an uphill battle with the Falcons. He'd be the fifth cornerback on the depth chart at best behind Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, Robert McClain and Dominique Franks. He'd also have to fight with Dominique Franks, Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers for return duties.

    But that is the ideal thing for him to do. He should win a role as a dime cornerback early on in his career with an eventual move to the nickel. Add in a possible long-term role as a return specialist, the only question is whether he can keep his nose clean.

     

    College Stats

    2012: Suspended for the 2012 season due to off the field issues. 

    2011: 13 Games Played, 76 Tackles, 7.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 3 QB Hurries, 2 Interceptions, 6 Fumbles Forced, 4 Fumbles Recovered, 9 Pass Deflections, 2 Defensive Touchdowns, 27 Punt Returns, 421 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

    2010: 13 Games Played, 57 Tackles, 8.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.5 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Interceptions, 5 Fumbles Forced, 2 Fumbles Recovered, 7 Pass Deflections

     

    Off the Field

    At this point, everyone has seen the Tyrann Mathieu story. He was a Heisman watch list member who turned to drugs and got suspended and summarily arrested. He was kicked off the LSU football team and has to prove to NFL teams that he is worthy of even being selected.

    However, if there is a team dynamic that could handle someone trying to turn his life around, it would be the Falcons. If they selected him in the seventh, he would have to earn his way onto the team, and should he do that, he could very well earn playing time. 

    Nonetheless, he will have to show that he wants to truly change and an NFL team will have to be convinced of it for him to even be selected.

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium StatsESPN.com, CFBStats.com or NFL.com

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.

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