The Atlanta Falcons need someone who can either learn to be a No. 2 wide receiver or a starting tight end who can play in the slot and stretch the seam. The Falcons might be able to kill two birds with one stone by drafting wide receiver-tight end hybrid Darren Waller out of Georgia Tech.
Waller played just three exits up the downtown Atlanta connector from the Georgia Dome for four years—I-75 and I-85 merge together through downtown Atlanta for those that aren't from the area. The Falcons should be very familiar with his body of work and how it affects them.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Georgia Institute of Technology
Shrine Game Measurements
Height: 6'6-3/4" Weight: 243 pounds
Measurements courtesy of B/R's Matt Miller
2014: 12 Games Played, 26 Catches, 442 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
2013: 12 Games Played, 17 Catches, 367 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
2012: 14 Games Played, 8 Catches, 162 Yards, 2 Tackles
2011: 11 Games Played, 1 Kick Blocked
You can't ever teach size or speed, and Waller has both by the bundles. He also has excellent body control in air and understands how to secure the ball at its highest point. Waller can burn some talented corners and safeties and understands subtleties to create separation despite the lack of refined route running.
He's got experience as both a tight end and a wide receiver in a run-heavy offense. He shows competence and willingness to block in the running game that most receivers don't have coming out. His potential is sky high at both tight end and receiver. Should the Falcons take him, they could be his ideal development situation.
Waller is a bit of a tweener without a true position. He's got an ideal fit as a slot receiver, but with his size, it makes him a giant slot or a tight end. His frame could probably hold 260-265 pounds, but it takes a few years to bump up from 240-245 to that 260-265 that he has the ability to be at.
Although he played in a run-based offense, his run blocking is average at best going against corners and safeties. He will really have to refine this at the next level to be effective against second- and third-level defenders. He also needs a ton of work as a route-runner, but with Terry Robiskie as his position coach, he could develop quickly there.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
This one is a bit edgy as far as the Comrade Filter is concerned. Waller has been suspended multiple times during his time at Georgia Tech, including one for two games during the 2014 season. On top of that, he was arrested during his senior year of high school.
However, nothing was major and the suspension was for a violation of team rules. If the Falcons feel like his edges aren't as rough as they look on the surface, they should easily take a look at him in the draft. If they dig into his past and think he's not worth the time, they'll pass. It's that simple.
Waller is that ideal developmental wide receiver or tight end prospect that teams want to take in the mid-to-late rounds. He's got comparables to Julius Thomas, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. He would be a great fit as a seam-attacking tight end in Kyle Shanahan's offense, who has reportedly accepted the offensive coordinator position, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
He could also be that ideal red-zone target on some high-low concepts with Levine Toilolo. Toilolo hasn't been ideal, but with someone in that same 6'7", 250-pound range that he is in, the Falcons could create some scary mismatches on third downs and in the red zone.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
Waller is so raw that he wouldn't be taken until the fourth round or later. He's got a ton of potential, but he needs to be in a situation where a team can sit him behind multiple veterans who could refine his game and turn him into a true star.
Atlanta could easily be that team. The Falcons could take him, let him learn from Roddy White and Julio Jones for a couple seasons and then unleash him onto the world. His potential to be the next Jimmy Graham or Julius Thomas makes him worth taking the risk on.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.