The 2015 NFL season is over and now we begin to focus on the off-season. After an 8-8 season for Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons, the team will look to improve on some of their biggest needs in this year's NFL Draft; however, the Falcons are limited in this upcoming draft.
Atlanta enters the 2016 NFL Draft without their fifth and sixth round selections, making it a very crucial draft in which the front office and scouting department will aim to nail their remaining picks in a few months.
Dan Quinn and company are obviously aware that the Falcons lack talent at key spots like the interior of the offensive line, edge rusher, linebacker, and safety, and they'll have a combination of about $30 million in cap space and their five draft selections to patch those holes.
DBN Fanatics Writers Eric Robinson and Raekwon Gilbert collaborates to give us their first of many mock drafts on which direction the Atlanta Falcons could go in the upcoming draft this April.
Round 1: Jaylon Smith-- Linebacker, Notre Dame
|Jaylon Smith against Texas|
Smith will enter the NFL Draft coming off an ACL tear injury that occurred during an bowl against Ohio State. The good news is just he did not have any nerve damaged and is expected to make a full recovery. Now, I know some fans (including General Managers) would hesitate to select Smith in the first round of the draft but Smith's talent outweighs his injury problems so the Falcons should reap the rewards right ?
Round #2: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive End, Florida (6’3 275 lbs)
|Bullard stopping the run against Ole Miss|
An emerging prospect, Bullard is powerfully built. Displays a motor and consistent effort. Bullard has developed skills to disrupt the pocket with power moves and some hand techniques and also has experience of playing multiple spots on the line at Florida
|Bullard earns a sack against New Mexico State|
How he fits in Atlanta: One thing Dan Quinn loves is a versatile defensive lineman and Bullard provides another asset to his defensive line rotation.
|Karl Joesph interception against Georgia Southern|
Joseph's biggest attribute is possibly that he's a physical safety, which lots of NFL scouts will want to add to their defense for the future. Joesph possesses the ability to come up in run support and stick his nose in, he's considered a ”Hit stick” type hitter. Joseph also has solid instincts and the ability to read and diagnose plays. In man-to-man coverage, he's able to get his head turned around quickly and make a play on the ball. Joseph is a sound tackler and if trailing the play, applies instincts to make “shoestring” tackles which is something Atlanta's defense has missed for years. Joseph brings a lot of attitude, which teammates feed off of and that's the energy any professional defense would love to have.
|Joseph big hit against TCU in 2014|
Joesph's lack of height and his weight is iffy as well. Although he has the ability to wrap up and complete the tackle, he doesn't always apply that discipline when needed. At times, he's not the best defender in zone coverage, seems lost at times and has trouble getting off blocks with opposing linemen due to his size. Joesph is a liability when covering tight ends or big receivers. There is a concern that his size and hitting ability may lead to numerous injuries at the next level; overall, he could pan out well for the Falcons.
Round #4: Jerell Adams, Tight End, South Carolina, (6’6 235 lbs)
|Jerell Adams touchdown reception against LSU|
On the surface, Adams’ numbers don’t pop off the page to most. However, I for one don’t believe the numbers reflect his skills. Adams was simply underutilized while at USC. A combination of his height/weight and skills makes Adams a mismatch. If he excels at the combine and workouts, expect to see his name rise.
|Adams touchdown reception against Furman in 2014|
How he fits in Atlanta: With the solid play of Jacob Tamme, tight end is not a glaring need but it is a position that was somewhat ignored since the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. Adams can be drafted and learn the ropes as a second tight end and eventually take the starting spot in 2017.
Round #7: Devon Cajuste, Wide Receiver, Stanford (6'4, 228 lbs)
|Cajuste with a big reception against Notre Dame|
Maybe one of the few unheard players expected to join this year's draft, fifth-year Senior Devon Cajuste is a physical specimen at 6-4" and 228 pounds with admiral speed around the 4.6 range. Cajuste has good body control, nice catch radius range, and an understanding of the situation in games.He's also very quick when coming out of his cuts and a good run blocker in space.
|Cajuste touchdown reception in 2013|
Having a pick in the seventh round does not mean that you're going to find a valuable starter or consistent role player but it does offers the chances to gamble on the progression of valuable player down the road. Cajuste is a perfect project with size and athletic. If Dimitroff would like to take a gamble like he usually does, then he would be a perfect match.
Eric Robinson---- @ERobinsonRSEN
Raekwon Gilbert---- @RxGilbert97