Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions, Post-Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is over, so it's time to take a fresh look at where the Atlanta Falcons may go with their selections in April's draft.
For a team that came about 10 yards shy of a Super Bowl berth, the Falcons are facing plenty of questions heading into March, such as: Will Michael Turner be cut? If Turner is cut, is Steven Jackson a viable option? Could Tony Gonzalez really come back for one more year? And will the team reach long-term deals with William Moore and Sam Baker?
Nevertheless, the good news for the Falcons is that they will have their full slate of draft picks this year after coming into last year's draft short two picks via the Julio Jones trade in 2011.
With the results from the combine in mind, let's discuss what an Atlanta Falcons' draft could look like if the team had to make its selections this weekend.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com
Round 1: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
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Falcons' fans may be tired of seeing Eifert linked to Atlanta in mock after mock, but the reality is that all of the first-round caliber pass-rushers will probably be long gone by the time Atlanta picks at No. 30. Moreover, whether Tony Gonzalez returns or not, the Falcons have a long-term need at tight end.
Tyler Eifert is an elite tight end prospect, and the Falcons will be fortunate if he's available at No. 30. He runs routes like a wide receiver and is well-adept at going up and catching passes in traffic. He will create yet another mismatch in the passing game for Atlanta.
As if his game film isn't impressive enough, Eifert finished amongst the top five performers in the tight end group in every drill at the combine.
Notable combine results: 4.68 40-yard dash, 22 bench press reps, 35.5 inch vertical jump
Round 2: Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
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The Atlanta Falcons only carried five linebackers on their active roster for most of the season last year, including the soon-to-be 37-year-old Mike Peterson.
In addition, Stephen Nicholas was exposed badly in pass coverage in the postseason. The Falcons need to inject a young, athletic linebacker into the lineup. Enter Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene.
As a converted safety, Greene brings a unique awareness in the passing game to the linebacker position. At 6'1", 240 pounds, he'd fit nicely at weakside linebacker in Atlanta's defense, allowing Sean Weatherspoon to play strongside linebacker on passing downs.
Greene finished with 136 tackles, six sacks and five pass breakups in 2012 for the Scarlet Knights.
Notable combine results: 4.71 40-yard dash, 17 bench press reps, 4.20 20-yard shuttle
Round 3: Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
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The fact that Atlanta needs to improve its pass-rush may be the team's second worst-kept secret after its need for a tight end. After seeing names like Dion Jordan, Margus Hunt and Ezekiel Ansah come off of the board before its first-round pick, Atlanta finds great value in the third round by selecting Auburn's Corey Lemonier.
Lemonier had a strong year as a junior in 2011 when he had 9.5 sacks, but his production lagged a bit in 2012. He will probably be available in the third round despite a pretty strong showing in Indianapolis at the combine.
Lemonier is long and athletic, and has the ability to rush from a stand-up position or from a three-point stance. He could offer immediate help as a situational rusher while developing into an eventual starter.
Notable combine results: 4.60 40-yard dash, 27 bench press reps, 33 inch vertical jump
Round 4: Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
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While Jonathan Babineaux can still produce at a high level, he will turn 32 in October. Vance Walker, the fourth member of the Falcons' defensive tackle rotation, will be a free agent.
Atlanta would be wise to add another defensive tackle in the draft to shore up its depth on the interior defensive line. Although he's not much of a pass-rusher yet, Akeem Spence is a stout run defender who projects as a nose tackle in a 4-3 defense. He knows how to penetrate gaps and disrupt an opponent's running game, and he should be available in the middle of the draft.
Notable combine results: 37 bench press reps, measured in at 6'1", 307 pounds
Round 5: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
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It's sounding like Michael Turner will be playing elsewhere in 2013, and even if Atlanta acquires a veteran free-agent like Steven Jackson to replace him, the team could still stand to invest in a young running back.
Knile Davis turned a few heads at the combine with an impressive 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. He showed flashes of being an elite SEC back when he was healthy at Arkansas, but he did have ball security issues.
If concerns over Davis' injury history and his poor 2012 season keep him on the draft board until the fifth round, he could certainly be worth Atlanta's selection.
After all, the Falcons wouldn't be asking Davis to come in and be the feature back. He'd just have to complement Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and whoever the Falcons may bring in free agency if they decide to sign a running back.
Notable combine results: 4.37 40-yard dash, 31 bench-press reps, measured in at 5'10", 227 pounds.
Round 6: Omoregie Uzzi, G, Georgia Tech
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The Falcons need to figure out the interior of their offensive line. If the team decides to move Peter Konz to center, then there will likely be an open competition for the starting right guard spot.
Omoregie Uzzi (6'3", 302 pounds) is an experienced starter at the college level who could come right in and compete for playing time in Atlanta. After spending time in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, Uzzi has developed into a decent athlete who's pretty consistent in the run game.
Even as a sixth-round pick, there's little "bust" potential for Uzzi. At best, the Falcons get a steal, and Uzzi turns into a Pro-Bowl level guard. At worst, he's a quality backup.
Notable combine results: Did not participate
Round 7: Kayvon Webster, CB, South Florida
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Since Jacquizz Rodgers will likely be seeing even more time on offense, Atlanta needs to bring in someone else who can contribute on special teams and return kicks.
Kayvon Webster played a lot of football in his four years at South Florida, and he is a good enough athlete to contribute to Atlanta's special teams unit both as a return man and a coverage specialist.
Notable combine results: 4.41 40-yard dash, 14 bench-press reps, 35 inch vertical jump