2014 Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: What a Senior Bowl Heavy Draft Could Look Like
With the Atlanta Falcons coaching the Senior Bowl and having a history of selecting players from it, what would a draft that is heavy with players from the game look like?
Would it be able to fill the needs with good value and players that fit the Falcons' values through the Comrade Filter?
Would they be able to improve the overall talent and fill a full seven rounds worth of players with Senior Bowl participants?
The answer to the latter two questions is yes. They could easily fill out the needs and a seven round draft with Senior Bowl players. They would also dramatically improve the team and have guys that they already know can play in their schemes. Let's see who the Falcons could take with mainly Senior Bowl participants.
Round 1: DE/OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA, 6'4", 248 Pounds
Atlanta's biggest needs are a talented pass rusher on the edge and a top-level offensive lineman. However, unless the best tackle in the draft is there at six, it will be tough to see Atlanta taking one in the first round. That means they will look at pass rusher.
So while Anthony Barr dropped out of the Senior Bowl, it was due to injury according to AL.com's Mark Inabinett. The Falcons would be the perfect fit for Barr, too. He would be the ideal pass rusher off the edge for Mike Nolan's scheme.
Nolan could use him similarly to how he used Kroy Biermann in 2012. By doing this, Barr's top-level athleticism would be able to create even more disruption than Biermann ever could. It would open up Jonathan Massaquoi and other Falcons pass rushers to get after quarterbacks as well.
Comrade Filter Fit
When picking the perfect future Falcons, Anthony Barr is right at the top of the list. He's gladly made the switch from running back to linebacker and could easily fill a role like what Von Miller plays in Denver. Daniel Jeremiah from NFL.com even quoted an NFL executive about him:
"He's a team captain and he's an off-the-charts worker. He's all football, all the time. He works his butt off in the weight room. He's very bright and you never have to worry about him off the field."
If anyone sounds like a Falcon, it's Barr. They might even raise him up the boards because of his off-field characteristics. And while that might seem like a bad thing to some, his on-field play has shown that he's worthy of a top 10 pick.
2013: 13 Games Played, 66 Tackles, 20.0 Tackles for Loss, 10.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 6 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection
2012: 14 Games Played, 82 Tackles, 21.0 Tackles for Loss, 13.0 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries, 4 Fumbles Forced, 5 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick, 1 Punt Return, 10 Yards
2011: 12 Games Played, 9 Carries, 25 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 3 Catches, 16 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 2 Tackles
2010: 12 Games Played, 6 Carries, 29 Yards, 9 Catches, 66 Yards, 1 Tackle
Round 2: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh, 6'0", 285 Pounds
Aaron Donald just lived in the South team's backfield during the Senior Bowl. He's a top-level penetrator on the interior and would give Atlanta the interior penetration they have needed with Jonathan Babineaux essentially playing 5-technique end for the past two seasons.
Donald creates production by disruption. He breaks through the interior and dominates one-on-one situations and can force doubles on the inside. The Falcons would love to have his penetrating abilities on the interior and could use him at both the 3-technique and the 5-technique.
If the Falcons decide to re-sign Babineaux and Corey Peters this offseason, they would be wise to add another interior penetrator to that crew. There's no better interior penetrator than Donald in this draft, and he would only fall due to size questions.
Comrade Filter Fit
He's not a team captain nor has he ever been arrested or suspended. However, he's a high-motor guy who always is getting after the quarterback or running back. Donald is a potential long -term starter on the inside of the line and he could be tremendous for the Falcons there.
2013: 13 Games Played, 59 Tackles, 28.5 Tackles for Loss, 11.0 Sacks, 16 QB Hurries, 4 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick
2012: 12 Games Played, 64 Tackles, 18.5 Tackles for Loss, 5.5 Sacks, 11 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Pass Deflections
2011: 13 Games Played, 47 Tackles, 16.0 Tackles for Loss, 11.0 Sacks, 11 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 4 Pass Deflections
2010: 13 Games Played, 11 Tackles, 3.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 2 Pass Deflections
Round 3: OG Jon Halapio, Florida, 6'3", 321 Pounds
Atlanta needs a right guard more than any other position on the offensive line. And while this pick may look a bit out of the norm, the Falcons would love his off-field personality while also getting the Harvey Dahl-style nastiness they have missed on the interior.
Halapio is a wide body who can run block very effectively. However, unlike most guards in this draft who are primarily run blockers, he can hold up the depth in the pocket against even the best rushers. He was the only guard today to actually hold up against Aaron Donald and not allow him to penetrate through.
While this may not be the guard that every Falcons fan wants, this is the guard that the Falcons could value high. Once all is said and done, Halapio could also be a better player than most expect in this draft that has been undervalued because of how bad Florida was as a whole this season.
Comrade Filter Fit
A four-year starter for the Gators and two-year team captain, Halapio is exactly what Thomas Dimitroff wants on the Falcons. Even more than that, he's the kind of player who Atlanta could take earlier than others because he fits the Falcons personality traits they want over other players.
2013: 10 Games Started at Right Guard
2012: 13 Games Started at Right Guard
2011: 13 Games Started at Right Guard
2010: 7 Games Started at Right Guard, 12 Games Played
2009: 3 Games Played before a Medical Redshirt
Round 4: NT Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech, 6'2", 344 Pounds
Atlanta needs someone on the inside of their defensive line with some girth. Between the 288-pound Donald and just north of 300-pound Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux should they re-sign, the Falcons wouldn't have anyone in the 310 range or higher.
That needs to change. And while Justin Ellis is 340-plus pounds, he moves like a player 70-80 pounds lighter. Ellis has shown the ability to play the 1-technique in the 4-3, but he could also play the nose in the 3-4 and give Atlanta some more versatility than they have.
With Ellis and Donald added to Peters and Babineaux, the Falcons could have the best quartet of defensive tackles in the NFL. And if they are rotated properly, Atlanta could stuff the run much more effectively and even push the interior of the pocket better.
Comrade Filter Fit
Another guy who's clean off the field and shows some leadership on it, Ellis would fit in very well for the Falcons frame of mind. Despite being coached by the South squad, Atlanta would love this wide-bodied defensive tackle as much off the field as they would on it.
2013: 12 Games Played, 48 Tackles, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Pass Deflection
2012: 10 Games Played, 21 Tackles, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2011: 13 Games Played, 28 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Pass Deflection
2010: 4 Games Played, 4 Tackles, 0.5 Tackles for Loss
Round 5: RB Charles Sims, West Virginia, 6'0", 213 Pounds
If the Falcons bring in a running back, they would be wise to bring in a guy who's going to fit their scheme as both a rusher and a returner. And Charles Sims is that guy out of all of the backs that were in Mobile for Senior Bowl week.
Atlanta knows first-hand how talented of a running back Sims is from their experiences with him at the Senior Bowl. He could allow them more versatility than Josh Vaughan has allowed them the past couple of seasons as a reserve running back.
On top of that, he can actually pass protect. Eventually, Sims could carry the load when Steven Jackson is out of the picture. Team him with Jacquizz Rodgers long term, and the Falcons just might have a good rushing attack for the foreseeable future.
Comrade Filter Fit
Charles Sims is another guy who's clean off the field but not a captain on his current team. He's a hard working player, though. As a running back, he doesn't have to be a great leader and could just follow the top leaders already on the Falcons.
2013: 12 Games Played, 208 Carries, 1,095 Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 45 Catches, 401 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 4 Kick Returns, 53 Yards, 3 Tackles
2012: 9 Games Played, 142 Carries, 846 Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 37 Catches, 373 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle
2011: 13 Games Played, 110 Carries, 821 Yards, 9 Touchdowns, 51 Catches, 575 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
2009: 14 Games Played, 132 Carries, 698 Yards, 9 Touchdowns, 70 Catches, 759 Yards, 1 Touchdown
Round 6: OLB Christian Kirksey, Iowa, 6'2", 235 Pounds
Yes, Paul Worrilow, Sean Weatherspoon and Joplo Bartu have shown they could be starting caliber linebackers in the NFL. And in this scenario, they would also have Akeem Dent and Anthony Barr. But there's still depth that needs to be added—especially if that depth can cover a tight end.
And that's where Christian Kirksey comes in. He can not only cover a tight end, he's very adept at blitzing and can create pressure off the edge. On top of all of that, he's an extremely sure tackler who would be an asset against the run.
Competitions for the starting linebacker spots would be fun to watch. But even if Kirksey doesn't end up as a long-term starter, he still has a niche role that he could fill in the defense. That is a role that the Falcons have needed someone to fill for years.
Comrade Filter Fit
Christian Kirksey isn't just clean off the field; he's a team captain for the past two seasons. The Hawkeyes loved having him on the defense, and the Falcons will love his off-field personality. If there's a guy who could come right in and compete for a role right away even if it's not starting, it's Kirksey.
2013: 13 Games Played, 104 Tackles, 5.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.5 Sacks, 7 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Defensive Touchdown
2012: 12 Games Played, 95 Tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections, 2 Defensive Touchdowns
2011: 13 Games Played, 110 Tackles, 5.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
2010: 10 Games Played, 6 Tackles
Round 7: TE Gator Hoskins, Marshall, 6'2", 244 Pounds
Atlanta needs a tight end to help replace the production of Tony Gonzalez. They have their in-line tight end in Levine Toilolo. However, they need someone who can be that joker-style H-back as their second tight end behind him.
Gator Hoskins can be that guy. He's able to line up anywhere on the field and provide a true receiving threat. His weakness comes from his blocking, though. While that can be worked on, his overall game will not be good enough for him to go before the later rounds.
Atlanta can take advantage of this, though. If they bring in Hoskins and bring back Chase Coffman to team with Toilolo, the Falcons should be able to effectively replace the production from the tight end position as a whole that they are losing from Gonzalez's retirement.
Comrade Filter Fit
Gator Hoskins is a captain, a leader and a hard worker for the Marshall Thundering Herd. He's part of a long line of tight ends that have made it to the NFL. However, unlike most Marshall tight ends, he could also slide down to fullback and has a ton of versatility.
2013: 14 Games Played, 50 Catches, 821 Yards, 15 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle
2012: 11 Games Played, 35 Catches, 374 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle
2011: 13 Games Played, 14 Catches, 123 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
2010: 1 Games Played
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.