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The 2021 NFL draft is just two days away but for Falcons fans, the last 10 days have felt like a puzzle with too many pieces. Let’s break down what I believe to be the most likely scenario for Atlanta in my final mock draft of the year.
ROUND 1, PICK 4: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
(AP Photo/Andy Clayton- King)
I've been preaching this fit for an elongated period of time and I'm not about to change it now. I believe if Lance doesn't go third, the Falcons will be all over him. The love for Kyle Pitts just seems fishy to me -- amid all the Julio trade talks, it's a completely lateral move to hypothetically get rid of Julio to add Pitts. I've been in contact with North Dakota State's offensive coordinator, Tyler Roehl, throughout the process and from what we talked about, the Falcons seem to like Lance quite a bit. Quite simply, the pick will come down to either Pitts or Lance but I'm going to stick with Lance, whose long frame, play-action ability and combined on-the-ground and in-the-air toughness make him a great fit for Arthur Smith's offense.
ROUND 2, PICK 35: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
The Falcons have been big-game hunting at the cornerback position this offseason and I imagine they're going to target an outside cornerback early. Now, Asante Samuel Jr. may not make it to pick No. 35, but it's possible. Dean Pees coached his father -- and their athletic profiles and play styles are similar. The Falcons also met with Samuel Jr. virtually this offseason. I imagine the team will spend a day-two pick on a cornerback and the Seminoles playmaker would fit in exceptionally well. Dean Pees wants his cornerbacks not to be beaten deep, and while he says there's no such thing as a shut-down corner, Asante is as close as it gets to one. His ferocious ball-hawking nature is exactly what Atlanta needs on defense.
ROUND 3, PICK 68: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
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The Falcons have a much bigger hole at the WR position than most people care to believe. Julio Jones can only be great for so long and is reportedly on the trade block. The team will have to make a tough decision pending a likely Calvin Ridley extension and with Russell Gage becoming a free agent next season. Fehoko is "THE Arthur Smith receiver" if you will -- he's got length, excels in the intermediate game, has strong hands and tested well. He told me that the Falcons brought Dave Brock, TJ Yates and Dave Ragone to one of his two meetings with the team. Surely the Falcons are interested in Simi, and for good reason. Smith's scheme asks its receivers to be versatile, which is definitely something Fehoko can bring to the table in Atlanta.
ROUND 4, PICK 109: Michal Menet, OC, Penn State
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I've spoken about this previously, but on film, the Penn State offense was nearly identical to the Tennessee Titans' in 2020, whether it was the play-action passes or the swing zone run scheme, they were shockingly similar. The Falcons have been rumored to be in the market for a center this offseason, most notably when they were in the David Andrews sweepstakes, and Menet is an exceptional fit in Smith's offense. He has a strong anchor but has good lateral movement when he slides to the second level. He also fits the leadership agenda Atlanta's been pushing this offseason and he was a two-time team captain at center for the Nittany Lions.
ROUND 5, PICK 149: Larry Rountree, RB, Missouri
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The Falcons signed Mike Davis this offseason to be the lead back and released Ito Smith. Rountree's play-caller, Eliah Drinkwitz, came from the same offense that sent RB Darrynton Evans to the Titans last year at Appalachian State. Drinkwitz is a firm believer in the wide-zone scheme and utilized it with both the Mountaineers and Tigers. Rountree is a hard-nosed back with the three-cut lane ability in Bang, Bend and Bounce. He doesn't have exceptional burst, but has good vision and experience in the system that's likely to translate to the NFL level. I think Rountree is a really good fit for the Falcons on paper where he'll be the No. 2 back behind Davis.
ROUND 5, PICK 183: Tariq Thompson, S, San Diego State
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Man, Tariq's testing numbers were atrocious, but in the current draft era with no combine and less tape, staff-to-player connections in the middle rounds are going to be remarkably important. Not only do the Falcons have a hole in their safety room, but Atlanta's secondary coach Jon Hoke's younger brother, Brady, is the head coach at San Diego State. Jon's son, Kyle, is the safeties coach for SDSU. Thompson told me that the Falcons met with him once and that it went well. He's a willing tackler in run support and is instinctual versus the pass. Thompson is versatile safety and can play in the slot as a cornerback as well. The Falcons spent what little money they had to sign safeties Duron Harmon and Erik Harris but I envision them adding to this group.
ROUND 5, PICK 184: Malcolm Koonce, OLB, Buffalo
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
The Falcons have met reportedly met with three pass rushers in Earnest Brown, who is 6'4", 254 pounds, Daelin Hayes, who is 6'3", 253 pounds and Charles Snowden, who's 6'6", 243 pounds. The trend here seems to be a 3-4 outside linebacker with length and that's what Koonce is. At 6'2" 249 pounds, he has a low center of gravity and impressive bend. Koonce's DL coach, George Ricumstrict, was on Michigan State's staff in 1996 when Dean Pees was the defensive coordinator. So, some familiarity should help Koonce translate to Pees' scheme. His ability to relentlessly target the ball in addition to his high motor will allow Koonce to make a name for himself during camp before the season.
ROUND 6, PICK 188: Jack Stoll, TE, Nebraska
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If it was up to looks, Jack Stoll would be a top-10 pick. The mullet on this kid should push him up some boards. But in all seriousness, the Falcons are reportedly high on Stoll and it doesn't surprise me. The team lacks a hybrid tight end that can do both: block and catch. Stoll is a very average receiver and a solid blocker. While he's not overly impressive at either task, he's a surefire competitor and can consistently move the chains for you. At 6'4", 260 pounds, the Falcons get a more complete tight end than they currently have on the roster.
ROUND 6, PICK 220: CJ Marable, RB, Coastal Carolina
SeJay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Similar to a couple other names on this list, I've written about Marable a few times simply because he makes a ton of sense for Atlanta. His athletic profile is similar to Boston Scott and the Falcons have shown interest in Marable. He'd be a gadget-type running back with special-teams ability, plus Marable can contribute as a receiver. He was an uber-productive offensive threat at Coastal Carolina.