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Over the past week, the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins completed a pair of trades that should change the Atlanta Falcons’ draft strategy at No. 4 overall. The top three picks are likely going to be game-changing quarterbacks in Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and either Mac Jones or Trey Lance. The one guy who’s falling from that group seems to be Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
Round 1, No. 4 Overall: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
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Yes, the Falcons take a quarterback here despite the restructuring of Matt Ryan's deal. They have a chance to get the second-best player in the draft and a great overall fit for the new offensive scheme. Justin Fields has experience in an NFL-style offense during his time at Ohio State. Bringing the former Marietta, Georgia prospect to Atlanta would be smart long term. Ryan's deal has an out after two years, and this could give the team the perfect long-term replacement. It also gives Fields a great situation where he could learn from one of the best in the league about what it takes to be a great NFL QB. Fields would also be useful as a backup quarterback and situational player at times.
Round 2, No. 35 Overall: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
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With the lack of corners on the roster that can start, the Falcons need someone who can come right in and compete. Eric Stokes is a great fit for Dean Pees' defense and should fit right in with A.J. Terrell and Isaiah Oliver. Stokes has exceptional on-field speed and plays man coverage as effectively as he does zone.
Round 3, No. 68 Overall: S Andre Cisco, Syracuse
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The Falcons have just two competent safeties on the roster in Erik Harris and Jaylinn Hawkins, and they both fit best as strong safeties. A true free safety like Andre Cisco would be a perfect addition to this group. He's great in the deep third or in cover one and has exceptional play-making ability. Cisco could be an instant starter as a rookie.
Round 4, No. 108 Overall: NT Jay Tufele, Southern California
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When it comes to the nose tackle position, the team has only one competent starter under contract for 2021. After that, Tyeler Davison is likely a free agent and adding someone who can play the shaded-one technique in the middle for base defense would be a smart move. Tufele could likely beat out Deadrin Senat for the backup nose tackle spot in 2021 as well.
Round 5, No. 148 Overall: EDGE Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh
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The Falcons need some additional punch off the edge. The way this draft fell, they may not be able to take one in the early rounds. Patrick Jones has all the tools to go higher than this selection, but the way this simulation went, Atlanta lands him as a steal here in the fifth round.
Round 5, No. 182 Overall: WR Simi Fehoko, Stanford
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Atlanta could use a possession receiver to work within the offense. They have so many different speed guys but lack size. Adding the 6-foot-4 Fehoko would give the Falcons another big target beyond Julio Jones.
Round 5, No. 183 Overall: S Caden Sterns, Texas
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Safety depth is also a need for the Falcons. Caden Sterns started his career on the outside before sliding into the safety role he played at Texas. He projects well to either safety role in the NFL and should be a good depth and special teams contributor for Atlanta.
Round 6, No. 187 Overall: RB Javian Hawkins, Louisville
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After signing Mike Davis, the Falcons could get away with not forcing a high pick on a running back until 2022. Javian Hawkins is a good zone runner with great speed and catching ability. He would fit in well in a wide-zone scheme.
Round 6, No. 219 Overall: OT Royce Newman, Mississippi
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The Falcons re-signed Matt Gono, but he is only under contract for one more year. Royce Newman is a great fit for the long-term swing tackle role but needs some seasoning before he gets the shot.