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 Samuel is still a good player but not worth the $5+ million he’ll count against the cap, seeing as how he has already been replaced by two rookies this season.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

Falcons 7-Round Mock Draft

This is a 7-Round Mock Draft for the Atlanta Falcons with predictions for all 11 draft picks they possess, assuming they stay put and do not trade any.

Round 1- Pick 30: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE Florida State

tank carradine

This is the type of pass rusher the Falcons can build around. Without a doubt he is top 10 talent, but because of his injury he would drop to the 30th overall spot. He has already healed back and has ran a 4.7 in the 40 yd dash. ACL injuries are not what they used to be, more advancements on the surgery and technology has allowed players to return in as little as 7 months. He will add a pass rush opposite of Umeniora andhe can adapt to whatever scheme the Falcons run, since he is 6-4 276 pounds, he could be a DE in a 4-3 or a 3-4. He has the balance in his game between run stopper and pass rusher, this makes him a no-brainer pick and the only red flag is the injury sustained during the 2012 season.

Round 2 – Pick 60: Tyrann Mathieu, CB LSU

tyrann mathieu

This might surprise many of you, but I believe that Mathieu possesses 1st round talent but because of his baggage he would drop to possibly even third round. The Falcons have to add a defensive end and a corner back to either start or play significant roles on the team this year so I have designated their first two rounds to those spots. He can cover most receivers, but the elite receivers that the Falcons face will be covered by Asante Samuel anyways. He will also add a dimension on special teams that the Falcons have not had in quite sometime, as he is a game-breaker as a return man. This will also add value by picking him here. As for his off-the-field issues, the Falcons already have a strong locker room that is veteran laden, so he will be held accountable by his teammates. He has also been working with Deon “Primetime” Sanders, who played the same position and was a dynamic returner, who has pledged his support for for this young man.

Round 3 – Pick 92: Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina

marcus lattimore

If I surprised you here, just hear me out. The Falcons signed Steven Jackson to a 3-yr $12-million deal with only $4-million guaranteed. This means that the soon-to-be 30-yr old will most likely be cut after his first year for cap reasons. The reason you take Lattimore here is to ensure that you can lock up a premier back for very little $. This will help the offense stay balanced for years to come. His first season he would primarily come in to relieve the other backs and would not have a tough workload, almost taking a “redshirt” year. He then would become the premier back in 2014 and beyond with JaQuizz Rodgers providing the “complimentary” duties. He would also be a GREAT locker room addition and teammate. For the money you can not go wrong, he is definitely worth the risk.

Round 4 – Pick 127: Ricky Wagner, OT Wisconsin

ricky wagner

This would be a good addition at this spot, Wagner would be a serviceable to good right tackle in 2013 and could evolve into a good to pro bowl caliber tackle. He might not ever play left tackle in the NFL, but with the departure of Tyson Clabo due to cap space, this is a must at this point in the draft.

Round 4 – Pick 133: David Amerson, CB North Carolina State

david amerson

As stated before, the Falcons need help at corner back in this draft. Amerson some may remember was a top NFL prospect last year after his strong Junior campaign. He then had a down/inconsistent year in 2012, which has dropped him down to a fourth or fifth round grade. He has the potential and size to be a above average starter in the NFL but as a rookie would probably be a nickel or dime corner and play on special teams.

Round 5 – Pick 163: Kwame Geathers, NT Georgia

Nose Kwame Geathers (99)] (Photo by Jim Hipple)

This is one heap of a man. Geathers should have probably stayed in school for one more season to refine his skills, this could have landed him in the first or second round. This, however is the path he chose and the Falcons could benefit as the price for him could be much lower. He is a 3-4 nose tackle at 6-3 353lbs or so. He would help transition the Falcons into that 3-4 base defense that Mike Nolan wants to implement. This could also give them flexibility on the defensive line.

Round 6 – Pick 198: Phillip Lutzenkirchen, TE Auburn

philip-lutzenkirchen

Well, there has been a lot said as to what the Falcons will do at Tight End in 2014 after future hall-of-famer Tony Gonzalez retires. I say they address it in part this year with a late-round selection where Lutzenkirchen could shadow Gonzalez and get groomed behind him. If it doesn’t work out then they can just draft/sign someone next year. Lutzenkirchen is known around the SEC, but does not get recognized anywhere else due to Auburn’s lack of offense in recent years. He is the type of H-Back where he can take the “fullback’s” place this season and also play TE. He can move around and has great hands, and actually reminds me of a “poor-man’s” Gronkowski. At this price and pick, this is a good value.

Round 7 – Pick 236: Johnathan Willard, OLB Clemson

jonathan willard

This is a pick where the Falcons could gain some speed at the outside linebacker position. They need a linebacker that has “quick hips” and can keep up with the current Tight Ends mismatch that the Falcons have as they are in the same division as Jimmy Graham, Greg Olson, and Dallas Clark. This mismatch was also exposed in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, where Vernon Davis was a major key in defeating the Falcons. Willard could also add the versatility to the defense where Nolan could use him in the 3-4 defense as well.

Round 7 – Pick 243: Craig Roh, DE Michigan

100210_UM V IU FBC CHAPPELL 2 LON

Roh was highly touted coming out of high school and has had a good career at Michigan. He has the size to provide depth at the defensive end position, whether it be a 3-4 end or a 4-3 end. The Falcons need to continue to add these type of players to have depth and build a cap-friendly depth chart by building through the draft.

Round 7 – Pick 244: James Ferentz, C Iowa

james ferentz

Ferentz is a durable leader on the offensive line. He started 38 consecutive games in 3 years and was the leader of a very talented offensive line. The center position for the Falcons is one of need, as Pro Bowler Todd McClure has retired and the backup Peter Konz is taking over the starting role. Ferentz will be a quality backup at a very important position and can contribute immediately on special teams.

Round 7 – Pick 249: Ray Ray Armstrong, S Miami

rayray armstrong

Armstrong has been an above average safety at Miami, but was highly coveted in high school. He could be a quality backup for the Safeties the Falcons have, with Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, there is a major drop off in talent from starter to backup. This will be very important if there was an injury to one of these players, where the Falcons could hold up a little better.

Written By Daniel, Hammockd29