Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions After First Week of Free Agency
After a week of free agency, the Atlanta Falcons haven't deviated much from general manager Thomas Dimitroff's stated goal of focusing on retaining their own players.
William Moore, Sam Baker and Tony Gonzalez have all been re-signed, and the Falcons replaced Michael Turner with ex-Rams running back Steven Jackson late in the week.
That's an impressive week of work, but Atlanta still has its share of holes to fill if it wants to compete for a Super Bowl next year.
Most of those holes are on the defensive side of the ball, as the Falcons will probably be looking for help with their pass rush, a cover corner and an athletic linebacker who can handle pass coverage responsibilities on third down.
Let's take a fresh look at how an Atlanta Falcons draft might play out in April after a week of free agency.
Round 1: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Mocking the NFL draft is a very fluid process. Early on Bjoern Werner was projected as a top-five pick, but his status has dropped a bit after the combine. Nevertheless, he was too productive at Florida State to make it out of the first round.
If Werner gets to Atlanta at 30, I think the Falcons need to sprint up to the podium with their selection. It's no secret that the Falcons will be in the market for a pass-rusher in April, and while Werner didn't blow anyone away at the combine, he did blow by plenty of offensive tackles in the ACC last year to the tune of 13 sacks.
Guys like Margus Hunt may impress a lot of people with size and impressive combine numbers, but the film doesn't lie. If you turn on Florida State defensive highlights from last season, you can't help but notice Werner.
It looks like the Falcons are going to rely on Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi to get after the quarterback next season. Adding a relentless player like Werner to that mix will help the Falcons keep the heat on opposing quarterbacks.
Round 2: Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri
The Falcons must add speed and athleticism to their linebacking corps. Zaviar Gooden is a converted safety who brings tremendous speed to his outside linebacker position. He's skilled in pass coverage and he won't need to come off of the field on third down.
The Falcons have done well with players from Missouri under Dimitroff's regime, and Gooden may be next in line. Atlanta really could have used him to match up against Zach Miller and Vernon Davis in the playoffs.
Round 3: Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
Brent Grimes sounds like he may be headed elsewhere, and Dunta Robinson is a Kansas City Chief. Asante Samuel and Robert McClain are a solid starting tandem, but Atlanta will need to add a corner early on in the draft if the defense is going to be equipped to take on the likes of Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers next season.
McFadden is a three-year starter who was voted team captain as a senior with the Aztecs. He has quick hips and outstanding ball skills, and some scouts have compared him to Brent Grimes.
I favor him over a guy like David Amerson because I saw Amerson beaten too often in 2012. I think McFadden could be what Thomas Dimitroff thought he was getting when he drafted Chris Owens in 2009.
Round 4: Bennie Logan, DT, LSU
Bennie Logan isn't spectacular, but the LSU defensive tackle is the kind of low-ceiling, high- floor prospect that the Falcons have taken in the past (see Vance Walker, Chris Owens and Corey Peters).
At 6'2" 309 pounds, Logan brings nice size and strength (30 bench press reps) to the interior of Atlanta's defensive line. He'd offer good insurance against another injury to Peria Jerry or Corey Peters next season.
Logan wore the number 18 for LSU because his coaches and teammates believed that he embodied what it means "to be a Tiger on and off of the football field." Sounds like a Dimitroff prospect to me.
Round 5: Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
The Falcons go back to the defensive line once again and pick up another defensive end from South Carolina. Taylor is long (6'7") and athletic, and he should be able to affect opposing quarterbacks by getting his hands up even if he doesn't put up big sack numbers at the next level.
Taylor would be a great value for Atlanta in the fifth round. Under this scenario, the Falcons would come away from the draft with their defensive end rotation set at Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, Bjoern Werner and Devin Taylor.
Round 6: Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina
After using the first five rounds to inject more talent into their defense, the Falcons finally add another weapon to their offense with the diminutive Ace Sanders from South Carolina.
Falcons fans who double as Georgia Bulldog football fans know about Sanders' prowess as a return man all too well, and it's that ability that I think could attract Atlanta to him if he's on the board in the sixth round.
Jacquizz Rodgers figures to get even more carries this upcoming season, so Atlanta would be wise to relieve him of some of his kick return duties.
Ace Sanders could develop into one of the better return men in the NFL.
Round 7: P.J. Lonergan, C, LSU
Fresh off of Todd McClure's retirement, the Falcons add another center from LSU in the seventh round of April's draft in P.J. Lonergan.
Lonergan played a lot of high-quality SEC football at LSU, and he could prove to be a solid backup for the Falcons at center working behind Joe Hawley or Peter Konz.