Atlanta Falcons Offseason Outlook plus 2014 7-round Mock Draft

First things first, a 4-12 season shows that the Falcons have plenty of holes to fill. They started by maximizing their cap room by “trimming the fat” by cutting cost-efficient salaries and older players who don’t fit the future vision.  The following players have been cut:

CB Asante Samuel, Cap Savings $5.25 million Image

This move should speak for itself. Samuel is still a good player but not worth the $5+ million he’ll count against the cap, seeing as how he has already been replaced by two rookies this season.

LB Stephen Nicholas, Cap Savings $2 million 2014 and $5.5 million in 2015

Nicholas is the highest paid linebacker on the team with the least amount of production, this is a no-brainer.

G Garrett Reynolds, Cap Savings $1.329 million

An under-performing offensive line needs a complete makeover, enough said.

Others that could be cut:

DE Osi Umenyiora, Cap Savings $3.5 million 

I know he just came in this year, but this is a position in need of being upgraded and the birds will need every dollar they can to make the necessary improvements.

S Thomas DeCoud, Cap Savings $3 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015, and  $4.2 million in 2016Image

This move will save a small fortune over the next 3 seasons. It is affordable money if DeCoud’s production was that of his Pro Bowl 2012 season, but the Falcons have little time to wait and see if that returns. They need to use every dollar to see if they can capitalize on a veteran free-agent safety.

RB Jason Snelling, Cap Savings $1.375 million

With three running backs on the roster making more than 1 million against the cap this season, including incumbent starter Steven Jackson and flex back/return man Jaquizz Rodgers, unfortunately Snelling is the odd-man out. Antoine Smith has stepped up as well, making this move less risky.

Free agency is also where the Falcons could make some noise and turn around their fortunes. So here are a few of the options they could pursue:

DE Michael Johnson, Cincinnati

Michael Johnson 

He is a product of the home-town Georgia Tech and could be affordable as a run stuffing defensive end as well as a potential double-digit sack stud. His production in sacks last year was down, hopefully helping the Falcons land him.

FS Jarius Byrd, Buffalo Bills

The Bills now seem as though they will not use the franchise-tag on Byrd. He might be out of the Falcons price-range, but he is the best free safety on the market. If there is a bidding war for his services, it may leave the Falcons looking for another safety in free agency.

FS Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts

antoine bethea

He is a more realistic candidate to be signed by the Falcons, seeing as how he is still an upgrade on DeCoud but he is much more affordable.

OLB Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins

Of course this is assuming that he even hits the market. He is a candidate for a franchise-tag as well as maybe even an extension. He would be expensive, but it all depends on where the Falcons want to spend their focus within free agency and the draft.

C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns

He would instantly change the whole dynamic of the offensive line. Mack has already made it clear that there is a slim to none chance that he returns to the struggling Browns. The Falcons may be in the market to really upgrade this position  in particular through free agency.

OT Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs

branden albert

The connection of new Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli being the former General Manager of the Chiefs helps this possibility. He is a former left tackle, right tackle, and also a guard in college. He can bring versatility to the offensive line that it has not seen in a while.

OT Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens

He does not have any connection, but seems like a good fit at right tackle and would help immensely.

G Willie Colon, New York Jets

He was pursued by new Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice while he was in Chicago, and he fits his scheme. He would also be a cheap addition who could start at right guard.

Others who didn’t make the cut: DE Greg Hardy-will probably be franchised, DE Michael Bennett-too expensive, OT Eugene Monroe-too big of a market, FS Louis Delmas-too many health concerns

And Now for the 7-round Falcons Mock Draft

Round 1 6th overall- DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo 

Khalil-Mack

This is assuming the highly coveted Jadeveon Clowney is off the board, and the Falcons would take the best player available which would be the versatile Mack. He has the NFL measurables and he is a clutch player, bringing in his best performances against top competition.

Round 2 37th overall- OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

He is a potential left tackle, but could play on the right side immediately as he develops.

Round 3 68th overall- DT Dominique Easley, Florida

He is a top 15 talent that slipped due to his torn ACL. He will be Babineaux’s replacement on the defensive line.

Round 4 99th overall- TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia

arthur lynch

He provides the ability to help in the passing game and as a blocker. Lynch will be a scheme-friendly pick for the Falcons, and should generate some home-town buzz.

Round 5 135th overall- S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

He is a tweener at sefety/corner, but his leadership and instincts make him valuable at the next level. He could play behind whoever the Falcons sign in free agency and make his living on special teams for the time being.

Round 5 compensatory- WR/RS Dri Archer, Kent State

He could be the Falcons 4th receiver, and speed demon return specialist. Sometimes it makes sense to take a flier on a guy who could make you look smart, he has gamebreaker potential.

Round 6 166th overall- G Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

The need for help along the line has been noted and here is just another body to use for competition in camp.

Round 7 197th overall- WR L’Damian Washington, Missouri

ldamian washington

If he is still here at this pick, the Falcons should jump all over it. He is a big-body receiver who can make plays in the red zone to help replace Tony Gonzalez.

Round 7 compensatory- CB Ross Cockrell, Duke

Talented corner who is underrated for his smooth transitions in coverage. He will help special teams and be a 4th corner.

Round 7 compensatory- QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

connor shaw

The Falcons do not seem to be high on Dominique Davis, and that’s why they brought in Sean Renfree in the draft last year. They want to create competition behind Ryan. Shaw would provide that and he is originally from Flowery Branch, where the Falcons practice facility is, thus creating local buzz. He is a proven winner, and has great running ability which is also valuable as a backup in the NFL.

Round 7 compensatory- C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

This would be adding another guy to the mix in camp to push Peter Konz.

HamMOCK Draft

1. Kansas City ChiefsLuke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M

This would be a great addition to a team on the rise, and if the Chiefs are serious about becoming a well-run franchise, they will  draft this stud and sure up their future. They already have a good coach (Andy Reid), good quarterback (Alex Smith), and a talented defense (Eric Berry, etc), and they have recently used the franchise tag on their left tackle Branden Albert, but this would make them a long term help and solidify their franchise.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB BYU

Ezekiel_Ansah_icon_21990978

The Jaguars need many things and Ansah could help legitimize their pass rush immediately. He has size speed and athleticism. He is very raw and would require some technique training, but is worth it because of his ceiling.

3. Oakland Raiders – Sharriff Floyd, DT Florida

He is the biggest difference maker on the inside of the defensive line. He has the burst from the inside and is a great addition when you want to start controlling the line of scrimmage. Floyd could come in and be a staple on the defense for many years to come, he is a can’t miss player.

4. Philadelphia Eagles – Star Lotulelei, DT Utah

The questions with his heart condition have made him drop from the graces. He was going to be the number one overall pick until this was found out, but he will return to his rightful place.

5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan

eric fisher

The Lions have needed a left tackle to protect franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford since they drafted him. This is a no brainer and would help them evolve as an offense. They now have Reggie Bush as well and he needs a good tackle to run behind.

6. Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, CB Alabama

This would help their defense tremendously, and give them two legit corner backs, with Joe Hayden on the opposite side. They added Paul Kruger to help with the pass rush and this would make this a viable defense.

7. Arizona Cardinals – Geno Smith, QB West Virginia

They go through quarterbacks here like Tiger Woods goes through mistresses. This, however, may be the guy that Larry Fitzgerald has been waiting for. He has the arm, the athleticism, and will be a good locker room leader.

8. Buffalo Bills – Jonathan Cooper, OG North Carolina

jonathan cooper

He is the best guard in this draft and would help the Bills win the line of scrimmage, where the game is won. He has great use of his hands and will help block for Ryan Nassib who they will draft in round 2.

9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE LSU

There is a big hole at linebacker/defensive end, which is the root of their pass rush in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. They need a difference maker and this would be a great addition.

10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, OG Alabama

This is a case of Warmack being the best player available at this spot. They also need a guard, and this would be a great investment on keeping Jake Locker upright and helping Chris Johnson run more downhill. This has been lacking since Johnson arrived in Tennessee, as most of his runs are east and west instead of north and south.

11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma

This would be a great value pick for the Chargers, they need a left tackle to keep Phillip Rivers up and on his feet. They need to start the healing process from last year and this would be a great way to start, he’s big and he can play left tackle on Sundays, thats all you really need to know.

12. Miami Dolphins – D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama

This is a consolation pick, the Dolphins need a tackle and would be slightly reaching a bit. If they are able to trade up and draft one of the top three tackles, that would be ideal. If not, this is what they will stick with.

13. New York Jets – Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame

With their second pick in the first round, the Jets will need to  start adding pieces to the offense to help move forward, and the quickest way to help a struggling QB is to give him a tight end. Eifert is the new “gotts have” tight end, and he will improve their offensive prowess immediately.

14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri

sheldon-richardson

This would help their already talented defense by adding a quality player at one of their biggest needs, and Richardson is a difference maker on the interior of the defensive line. He is versatile and will be a perfect match.

15. New Orleans Saints – Dion Jordan, OLB/DE Oregon

This would surprise most people if Jordan dropped to the Saints at 15 overall, but this would also be a great fit as New Orleans needs to improve their pass rush as they transition into the 3-4 defense.

16. St. Louis Rams – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee

The Rams are in need of playmakers for Bradford to use, especially since Amendola went to the Patriots and Steven Jackson left for Atlanta. This is possibly the best playmaker in the draft, with his raw athleticism alone.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia

JarvisJones

This is possibly the best pure pass rusher in the entire draft and the Steelers just got rid of James Harrison and this would be the quintessential player to replace him. The spinal stenosis has served Pittsburgh well, as this would drop this stud to their pick.

18. Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams, DT North Carolina

These Cowboys need a new sheriff on the defensive line. Williams could be that guy, and he could help control the line of scrimmage.

19. New York Giants – Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State

The Giants need quality help at defensive back and this could be a model addition. He has size and the suddenness to be a good NFL corner back.

20. Chicago Bears – Manti Te’o, ILB Notre Dame

This could be a match made in heaven, but not on the internet. Was that dirty? Anyways, with Brian Urlacher leaving it would make sense for the Bears to address it round 1. This could be the middle linebacker of the future and last for the next several years.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia

alec ogletree

This would fulfill the pipeline from UGA to the Bengals that has been established. The Bengals also need a middle linebacker who can cover sideline to sideline. He is probably the most talented linebacker in the draft, but because of his off-the-field issues he has dropped this far. The Bengals never seem to care about character anyways.

22. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas

With their second pick in the first round, the Rams would like to add the best safety in the draft. Check. This would sure up their secondary and help with their overall defense.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia

tavon austin

Here is the spot that they replace Percy Harvin, Austin has a comparable skill set and size to him. He also has the catch and run capability that Harvin possessed, which compliments their newly acquired wide out Greg Jennings, who is a more traditional receiver.

24. Indianapolis Colts – Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

This will help that struggling defense from last season. Andrew Luck and the offense helped this team to the playoffs, but the defense was the Achilles heel. Best corner available, and Trufant is a complete player.

25. Minnesota Vikings – Kevin Minter, ILB LSU

With their second pick of the first round, the Vikings could use a stud at middle linebacker, and this is the best guy available. They would help their rush defense and fill two glaring needs with their two first picks.

26. Green Bay Packers – Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama

This just makes perfect sense, with possibly the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, the Packers need a good compliment to him. Lacy possesses rare skills and has the ability to run over tacklers and also make them miss and run by them.

27. Houston Texans – Zach Ertz, TE Stanford

zach ertz

With the top two receivers taken already, I feel that this is the best value for the Texans. They need someone to take the pressure off of the run game and Andre Johnson, and Ertz would bring more versatility to their offense.

28. Denver Broncos – Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State

This would have been different had they had a good fax machine, but since Elvis Dumervil went to Baltimore they need a quality defensive end. Werner is a great fit here and would step right in and help out.

29. New England Patriots – John Jenkins, NT Georgia

This would feed right in to how Belechick perceives players, he loves versatility. Most people do not know that Jenkins also played at defensive end along with his natural tackle position. He can move around on the line to create the best possible matchup.

30. Atlanta Falcons – Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, DE Florida State

tank carradine

This would be a great pickup for the Falcons, they need a pass rusher. Carradine is a top 10 talent but because of his ACL injury during the 2012 season he has dropped this far. He has already healed enough to run his 40 yd dash and workout for teams.

31. San Francisco 49ers – Margus Hunt, DE Southern Methodist

margus hunt

This would build the depth of their already superior team, which will help the pass rush opposite of Aldon Smith. They have a ton of picks in the draft, so they may move up to get someone else or they may stay put and pick all 13 of their players.

32. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Elam, S Florida

This would be a great value, especially with all of the top 3 inside linebackers off the board. They need to replace Ed Reed long term.

 

Written by Daniel, hammockd29