2014 Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: Veteran's Day Edition
This has been a horrible season for the Atlanta Falcons, as they are likely out of the playoffs. And it's only Veteran's Day. On the bright side, they should be able to get a dynamic playmaker that they have needed this season and should get healthy next year.
Another high point is that the Falcons would be picking No. 3 overall if the draft was held today. With a pick that high in each and every round, they should be able to get multiple dynamic talents and even luck out with a guy or two who happens to slip.
Despite picking high, the Falcons should still continue their character model. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff—nicknamed "Comrade"—has developed a character filter that the Falcons have been using since he was given the reigns.
And while some fans say that this makes the Falcons bring in guys who are soft, it's the right way to develop a team and probably not changing anytime soon. So as part of each prospect's profile, we'll also go over their fit in the Comrade's Filter as well as designate whether they are a Comrade or not.
So follow along as the Falcons are given a plan of action in the 2014 draft—even if it is a bit early in the season to look forward to it.
1st Round: DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The Atlanta Falcons defense needs a South Carolina defensive end to have an effective, legitimate pass rush. First it was John Abraham and now, it should be Jadeveon Clowney—the freak athlete who has been battling injuries after a monster sophomore year for the Gamecocks.
Clowney is a 6'6", 274-pound prototype at defensive end who fits in the same, once every couple of years talent group that J.J. Watt, Mario Williams and Julius Peppers fit into as pass rushers. Clowney has better versatility than Williams or Peppers and could also be a force lined up at linebacker.
Mike Nolan would love to have someone with the unique athleticism and pass rush ability that Clowney provides. Combined with Sean Weatherspoon, Kroy Biermann, Joplo Bartu, Osi Umenyiora and other Falcons talents, Nolan could design an excellent scheme to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
And by bringing in Clowney and getting back Biermann from injury in 2014, the Falcons would have multiple players who could actually get home on pass rush plays. The better pass rush would allow the Falcons talent at corner to truly excel, and the opportunistic defense that was around in 2012 would return.
Comrade Filter Fit
While media has questioned his conditioning and his work ethic, they have done so without actually going to Columbia and speaking with his coaches. That's something the Falcons would do, and it's doubtful that they would see or hear anything that would dissuade them from taking the dominant end.
Off the field, he's been no issue—though he was falsely arrested in a situation that bordered on racial profiling. So don't listen to what the sports media monster says when it comes to a player they haven't done the requisite research on. Clowney will likely be a Comrade.
2013: 8 Games Played, 27 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 7 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Pass Deflections
2012: 12 Games Played, 54 Tackles, 23.5 Tackles for Loss, 13.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 3 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections
2011: 13 Games Played, 36 Tackles, 12.0 Tackles for Loss, 8.0 Sacks, 6 QB Hurries, 5 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2nd Round: OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor
While Garrett Reynolds has looked improved this season in pass protection, he's a weak run blocker all together. The Falcons need someone who can run block and pass block effectively. Specifically, one who fits in well with 2012 picks Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes as they are the future at center and right tackle.
They would definitely get that in the massive Cyril Richardson. The massive offensive guard has long arms to keep talented pass rushers away from his frame and locks up well with defensive tackles and 3-4 defensive ends in pass protection.
However, his real fit comes as a run blocker. Holmes has been developing into a road grader. Combine Richardson at 6'5", 340 pounds with Holmes at 6'6", 330 pounds and Peter Konz at 6'4", 315 pounds, and the Falcons definitely have the size and strength to bulldoze people over.
They would just have to use it effectively. The Falcons need to bully teams in the running game with their offensive line and having a massive, strong group on the right side would help them tremendously in their attempts to have a power run game once again.
Comrade Filter Fit
Richardson has never been arrested, nor has he been suspended in his time with the Baylor Bears. He's not a captain for the Bears, but he also doesn't come off as the kind of guy who would be a distraction in the locker room. He definitely comes off as a Comrade.
2013: 8 Games Started at Left Guard
2012: 13 Games Played, 12 Games Started at Left Guard
2011: 13 Games Started at Left Tackle
2010: 12 Games Played, 4 Games Started at Guard
3rd Round: DT/DE Dominique Easley, Florida
Atlanta has a unique situation at defensive tackle. While Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry have actually been playing well, they are all in contract years. Out of the three, the Falcons would be wise to only re-sign Peters as Babineaux and Jerry will be 33 and 30 in the 2014 season.
But that's just one starter at defensive tackle. The Falcons could also look at bringing back Vance Walker—who is under a one-year deal in Oakland—for the other starting spot. Even then, they need a legitimate talent who can be depth at the 3-technique but also play the 5-technique for 3-4 looks.
They would get exactly that in Dominique Easley. The Florida defensive lineman can play defensive end or defensive tackle in any scheme. He is an explosive talent off the line and is another interior pass rusher to help the Falcons.
The only real drawback to Easley is his injury history. He's torn his ACL in both of his knees. The first was his left knee back in 2011, and this season, he tore the ACL in his right knee (h/t ESPN). If he can get 100 percent healthy, the Falcons will have a steal here. And worst case, they have a situational pass rusher.
Comrade Filter Fit
Easley was once accused of assault in 2011 by former Alabama cornerback Reggie Myles. However, he was never arrested. The situation comes off a bit murky as seen in this this release by State Attorney Bill Cervone (h/t Orlando Sentinel's Rachel George).
Since that just seems like a "kids will be kids" scenario, it doesn't seem like it would be a red-flag situation. He wasn't suspended by the Gators in his time in Gainesville. And despite never being a team captain, he still comes off as a guy who will not be detrimental in a locker room.
Overall, he's definitely someone who could be a Comrade. But the situation from 2011 would have to be checked into a little bit further for clarity.
2013: 3 Games Played, 5 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 4 QB Hurries
2012: 12 Games Played, 26 Tackles, 8.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection
2011: 12 Games Played, 37 Tackles, 7.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 3 QB Hurries, 1 Blocked Kick
2010: 7 Games Played, 4 Tackles
4th Round: TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia
Tony Gonzalez is going to fade into the sunset after this season. And while that's going to be tough for the Falcons, they have the raw talent to replace him in Levine Toilolo and Chase Coffman. And while they provide guys who could be great intermediate options, another tight end is needed.
That's where Arthur Lynch from Georgia comes in. And no, he's not projected here because he's a local boy. He's projected here because he's a great fit for the Falcons offense in the same role that Toilolo has been playing this season as a blocker and goalline receiver.
His 6'5", 258-pound frame and talent as a blocker makes him the best option for the role long term. And if Toilolo or Lynch can turn into a pair who can get 75 catches, 800 yards and 8 touchdowns each season, the Falcons could be in great shape long term with the pair.
Comrade Filter Fit
Lynch has been a team captain for the Bulldogs and is one of the leaders in their locker room. He's a team-first kind of player and hasn't been arrested or suspended. The Falcons would have yet another Comrade in the locker room in Lynch.
2013: 8 Games Played, 15 Catches, 243 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2012: 14 Games Played, 24 Catches, 431 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle
2011: 14 Games Played
2009: 11 Games Played, 2 Catches, 17 Yards
5th Round: WR Cody Hoffman, BYU
Atlanta needs some wide receiver depth. While Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Roddy White all are talented, the Falcons only have Douglas under contract after the 2014 season. Atlanta needs to add depth to a corps that has only Drew Davis and Kevin Cone after them.
Neither one of them inspire much confidence, if Jones goes down, to be that big play threat. Cody Hoffman has that kind of potential. While he's not going to be an instant starter, the potential he has to make plays and be a possession receiver early will be a boost to Atlanta.
Once 2015 rolls around, he'd be in line to be a third wide receiver in the offense and allow Jones to slide into the slot and create mismatches. The Falcons offense needs to start creating more mismatches and adding another tall, physical talent at receiver would help.
Comrade Filter Fit
Outside of some traffic situations, Hoffman is on the fringe because of a suspension for one game due to a team rules suspension. However, Thomas Dimitroff has shown that he's forgiving with traffic offenses with William Moore.
But if he can let a one-game suspension pass, Hoffman would be more than worth it here in the fifth round. And despite not being a captain, Hoffman hasn't had any issues from the locker room come out and looks to be clean there. He may not be a Comrade coming in, but he could be a low-risk project.
2013: 7 Games Played, 36 Catches, 637 Yards, 5 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle
2012: 13 Games Played, 100 Catches, 1248 Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 3 Kick Returns, 72 Yards, 4 Tackles
2011: 13 Games Played, 61 Catches, 943 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 1 Carry, 3 Yards, 36 Kick Returns, 879 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 2 Tackles
2010: 13 Games Played, 42 Catches, 527 Yards, 7 Touchdowns, 14 Kick Returns, 380 Yards, 3 Tackles
6th Round: DL/LB Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest
So what if Nikita Whitlock is only 5'11", 250 pounds? He's a dynamic playmaker who is as fast as the average linebacker but understands how to excel in a 1-technique. He can play anywhere on the defensive line, and his abilities as a pass rusher would be more than worth a selection.
The Falcons love dynamic, versatile playmakers. And Whitlock would be one. As a pass rusher, there are few who understand leverage and hand usage on the line the way that he does. Just having him on the team could help with the interior pass rush.
Players like Whitlock are rare. So trying to find a fit will be tough for a team. However, the Falcons have one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. Whitlock being used all over the front seven would be a true asset to a Falcons team needing an additional pass rusher.
Comrade Filter Fit
Whitlock is an intelligent, hard-working player. He's not a guy who's going to cause trouble on or off the field. He fits in well with the Falcons' strategy of bringing in guys who—even if they aren't leaders—are good locker room guys. He's definitely a Comrade.
2013: 10 Games Played, 65 Tackles, 15.5 Tackles for Loss, 8.5 Sacks, 7 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection, 2 Blocked Kicks
2012: 10 Games Played, 51 Tackles, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries
2011: 13 Games Played, 64 Tackles, 14.0 Tackles for Loss, 3.5 Sacks, 3 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2010: 12 Games Played, 44 Tackles, 10.5 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
7th Round: FB Chad Abram, Florida State
Yes, the Falcons have Bradie Ewing on the roster to start at fullback. However, they need someone who can compete with him or at the very least, stay healthy and be good depth. And that's where FSU's Chad Abram comes in.
Want a 6'0", 230-pound battering ram that will bring back memories of Ovie Mughelli blocking?
Want a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and gain yardage after the catch?
He'd fill the hole in the offense that is missing from the loss of Ewing. And keeping a pair of fullbacks on the roster fits with the emphasis on special teams that Atlanta has. Abram would be much more valuable on the roster playing special teams and backup fullback than Josh Vaughan would be.
Comrade Filter Fit
Abram's never been arrested or suspended. He's been a game captain for the Seminoles and is a senior. He may not be a leader in the locker room professionally, but he won't be a distraction either. He also made the switch from defensive back to fullback. If that's not a Comrade, who knows what is?
2013: 7 Games Played, 4 Carries, 22 Yards, 7 Catches, 53 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2012: 11 Games Played, 4 Carries, 20 Yards, 5 Tackles, 1 Fumble Forced
2011: 11 Games Played, 2 Carries, 5 Yards, 5 Tackles
2010: 12 Games Played, 1 Tackle
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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