8 Players the Atlanta Falcons Should Target on Day 3 of NFL Draft
The Atlanta Falcons addressed their need at cornerback in a major way by selecting Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.
As we begin the final day of the draft, the Falcons are equipped with seven more picks that they will likely use to improve their depth at tight end, wide receiver, linebacker and along the offensive and defensive lines.
With those needs in mind, let's take a look at eight prospects that Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff should consider adding to Atlanta's roster in Rounds 4-7.
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
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Quinton Patton put on a show back in October against Texas A&M to the tune of 21 receptions, 233 yards and four touchdowns.
Patton doesn't have blazing speed, but he is an excellent route runner who knows how to beat press coverage. Patton excels on fade routes in the red zone, and he consistently catches the ball away from his body with his hands.
At 6'0", 204 pounds, he'd fit nicely—either on the outside or in the slot—for the Falcons as an additional receiving option behind Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas.
The Falcons need to keep the pressure on opposing defenses in 2013, and bringing in a receiver like Quinton Patton would be a great way to accomplish that goal.
Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State
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Gavin Escobar, Vance McDonald and Zach Ertz came off of the board in the Round 2, but Ryan Otten still gives Atlanta a viable option as potential understudy for Tony Gonzalez.
Otten is another team captain, and he's got the size (6'5", 240 lbs.), athleticism and awareness to make an immediate contribution in the NFL.
Phillip Steward, LB, Houston
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Phillip Steward isn't a household name, but he displays all of the tools that Atlanta needs in a three-down linebacker.
Steward led all NCAA linebackers in interceptions in 2011, but he's much more than a "coverage" linebacker. He finished with 128 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2012.
Steward's size (6'0", 223 lbs.) is probably the main reason that he hasn't received a lot of attention from draft analysts, but his production, enthusiasm and leadership (defensive team captain) should get him a look from the Falcons as a reserve outside linebacker and special teams ace.
Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky
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Like a lot of Day 3 prospects, Quanterus Smith has a "he probably would've gone higher if he hadn't done 'x" story. For Smith, a torn ACL that he suffered in November is the culprit.
Before hurting his knee last season, Smith was leading the nation with 12.5 sacks. He's a natural rusher off of the edge, and he even looked the part while working against Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker when Western Kentucky paid a visit to Tuscaloosa.
The Falcons have already invested in their secondary with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, and they'd be wise to snatch up a pass-rusher like Smith today.
Jordan Mills, OT, Louisiana Tech
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The Falcons need another big-body up front on their offensive line as insurance against an injury to Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes, Garrett Reynolds or Mike Johnson.
Jordan Mills (6'5", 316 lbs.) played right tackle at Louisiana Tech, but he's athletic enough to play on the left side and strong enough to move inside to guard. That's the kind of versatility that Thomas Dimitroff has been known to appreciate in offensive linemen that he drafts (see Holmes, Reynolds, Johnson, Konz and Hawley).
Mills has a non-stop motor, and he still has a lot of room to grow if he's coached up.
Mills and Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (yes, that Tramon Williams) are cousins, so he has NFL bloodlines like Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.
Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green
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High sack numbers may not always tell the full story when evaluating defensive end or outside linebacker prospects, but it's tough to discount double-digit sack production from a defensive tackle prospect.
That's why Chris Jones is on this list. At 6'1", 293 pounds, Jones doesn't have ideal size for an NFL defensive tackle, but he proved that he can get to the quarterback from the inside last season when he had 12.5 sacks.
Jones is disruptive because he gets off of the ball quickly and gives his blocker a nice jolt. He shoots gaps well and plays with a lot of energy. He was also a team captain at Bowling Green.
The former Bowling Green Falcon is a strong match for the Atlanta Falcons as a replacement for Vance Walker.
Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn
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UConn defensive end Trevardo Williams is another player that Atlanta could turn to in an effort to upgrade its pass-rush.
Williams' game is similar to ex-Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier's. Like the 49ers' third-round pick, Williams played as undersized 4-3 defensive end in college and displayed the urgency that Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff are looking for off of the edge.
Williams plays with an attitude, and he has experience playing out of a three-point stance and as a stand up rusher. He could probably add a little more weight to his 6'1", 241-pound frame and keep his explosiveness.
Atlanta is a good potential landing spot for Williams because he projects as a situational pass-rusher in the NFL, and that's all the Falcons would need him to do in 2013.
Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State
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The Falcons may double up on defensive tackles late in the draft—much like the way they doubled up on cornerbacks in Round 1 and Round 2—because they need a space-eating defensive tackle in addition to a replacement for Vance Walker.
6'3", 310-pound Mississippi State defensive tackle Josh Boyd could fit the bill as a space-eater since he'd be bigger than any of the defensive tackles in Atlanta's current rotation.
Although he plays a little high at times, Boyd is an active interior lineman who never quits on a play and understands how to maintain gap control.
Boyd could find a home as a run-stuffing nose tackle in Atlanta's defense.
Keep an eye out for Boyd and the seven other players we discussed when Atlanta is on the clock today.