The offseason started with a bang for the Atlanta Falcons. The team announced they were cutting RB Devonta Freeman and CB Desmond Trufant, but then turned around and announced the signing of EDGE Dante Fowler Jr. and RB Todd Gurley. The Falcons also traded for former first-round pick TE Hayden Hurst to replace Austin Hooper.
After an eventful offseason, the team now turns to the 2020 NFL Draft to fill the remaining spots on the team. This updated Falcons 7-round mock draft aims to keep that momentum moving forward into next season as well as seal up critical needs for the Falcons for the foreseeable future.
Cornerback: The team cut Desmond Trufant, leaving a big hole at their CB1 spot. Luckily, Atlanta has a pick in range to grab one of the top corners in this elite 2020 cornerback class. The team has some complementary pieces in Isaiah Oliver at CB2 and Kendall Sheffield at nickel, but there’s no primary option to fill Trufant’s shoes on the roster.
Defensive Tackle: The Falcons re-signed Tyeler Davison to occupy the DT spot beside Grady Jarrett, but Davison is a run-stuffing NT. The team needs to upgrade the defensive line opposite of Jarrett and add another pass-rushing option there.
Left Guard: The left guard spot held back the Falcons until Wes Schweitzer took over near the end of the season (coincidentally when the Falcons played their best), but Schweitzer is now a Washington Redskin. None of the options on the roster inspire confidence as starters heading into 2020.
Linebacker: De’Vondre Campbell signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, leaving star Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun as the only linebackers with serious playing time left on the roster. While that duo is talented and will likely be the full-time starters, an LB3 needs to be added.
Running back: Todd Gurley comes with a ton of risk and isn’t the player he once was. The Falcons need a quality insurance policy and a back to develop for the future behind Gurley.
Round 1, Pick 16: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Fulton steps into the CB1 spot right away for the Falcons. While Fulton needs to develop his awareness and technique, his movement skills and athleticism cannot be ignored. He’s competitive at the catch point and is one of the best man-coverage corners in this class. At 6’0, Fulton has the size and athleticism to compete with the top receiving talent in the NFC South.
Round 2, Pick 47: Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M
Madubuike gives the Falcons their interior pass rusher opposite of Jarrett. His quickness off the line is deadly and was a nightmare for SEC offensive linemen to try to stop one-on-one. Combined with a surprising amount of power and a nice club-rip move, Madubuike offers a tantalizing skillset as an interior rusher. With further development, Madubuike could be a star and would give Atlanta a devastating 1-2 punch with Jarrett in the interior.
Round 3, Pick 78: John Simpson, G, Clemson
Simpson is a powerful force on the offensive line, opening up holes wide enough for a truck to fit through. Simpson is also a good athlete in his own right, looking comfortable pulling and moving in space. While he isn’t the most fluid athlete, Simpson offers an enticing combination of traits and would likely become the Falcons starting left guard. Simpson would be the highest-drafted Clemson offensive lineman since Joe Bostic, who was a third-round pick in 1979.
Round 4, Pick 119: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
Evans is a highlight-reel player on every snap with his explosiveness and home-run ability. The App State star is a patient runner with good balance and versatility. Atlanta has been missing that level of big-play ability since the departure of Tevin Coleman, and Evans would provide that, along with abilities as a receiver and return man.
Round 4, Pick 143: Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
Taylor is a full-time developmental linebacker. Taylor has only played the game of football for a few years but has an array of desirable traits that will lead to his mid-round selection. He’s still learning the game of football, which shows on tape, but his rare speed at the linebacker position and surprisingly good tackling ability make Taylor a coveted prospect whose best football may be ahead of him.
Round 7, Pick 228: Cohl Cabral, C, Arizona State
Atlanta needs a backup/developmental center behind Alex Mack, who is 34 and will be in the final year of his contract this season.
One of the most well-rounded and versatile offensive linemen in this draft class, Cabral started multiple games at left tackle and center. He uses his hands well in pass protection and moves well in space, whether he’s pulling or climbing to the second level. Cabral has been voted team captain for two seasons as well. However, his measurements will likely cause him to slide down boards. Cabral measured at 300 pounds with 32-1/4″ arms at the NFL Combine and only participated in the bench press at the event. In Atlanta, he can be a valuable backup option and eventual starter with further physical development. Sitting behind Mack for a year would allow him time to develop without starting right away.
AJ Schulte is an NFL Draft Analyst for @PFN365. You can follow him on Twitter @AJDraftScout.