Georgia Tech hybrid Safety/LB, Jalen Johnson, has gotten his chance in the NFL. According to the AJC, the former Yellow Jacket has accepted a rookie mini camp invite with our own Atlanta Falcons and will join Desmond Branch, who accepted an invite from the Falcons yesterday.
Each will be trying out and hope to perform well enough for the team to sign them as UDFA.
It is officially NFL Draft day and two of our own writers, Bob Lancaster and Bret Anderson, got together and put together their mock drafts for what could happen later on tonight!
Bret Anderson’s picks:
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma
This Kingsbury’s guy. The Cardinals start off the new regime the QB they think fits best under their new offensive system as they should. Murray is a proven winner and adds an extra element to the Cardinals offense.
San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE Ohio State
The best player in this draft. San Francisco averaged just 2.0 sacks a game last season which ranked in the bottom half of the league but Bosa will surely help in that category.
New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DL Alabama
This pick could end up being traded to a team like the Redskins for Haskins, but the Jets can not pass on a player like Quinnen Williams. Their run defense was terrible last season, so why not get the best interior lineman in the draft.
Oakland Raiders: Ed Oliver, DL Houston
The Raiders had an atrocious pass rush last season, and just a bad defensive line in general. Ed Oliver can play inside or outside and the Raiders “Love” him and he fills one of many needs for the Raiders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB LSU
Kwon Alexander is now a 49er so this means the Bucs need linebacker help with their new 3-4 scheme. White has a nose for the football and flies all over the field. Seems like a no brainer here.
New York Giants: Josh Allen, DE Kentucky
The Giants need a pass rusher in the worst way and Allen is a freak athlete who had a superb senior season at Kentucky with 17 sacks. Again, seems like this is a perfect fit.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT Florida
Jaguars think they signed their new franchise QB in Nick Foles and well that means you need to protect him. Taylor went to the University of Florida and the Jags love to draft in state kids.
Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE Iowa
The Lions just need help. They have been stuck in the mud for a while and while they could elect to go with Montez Sweat here, but they Matt Patricia knows how valuable a TE can be fom his days in New England. Hockenson gives Stafford a big weapon and a guy who could end up being a top TE in the NFL in a couple years.
Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OT Alabama
Bills got their QB last year in Josh Allen and they just lost their LT in Dion Dawkins. Dline help is needed but protecting your QB of the future is more important.
Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB Missouri
Joe Flacco is not the answer in Denver plain and simple. John Elway has tried and failed before to draft a QB early but this time he hits a jackpot with Drew Lock. Haskins is also a possibility here.
Cincinnati Bengals: Rashan Gary, DL/Edge Michigan
The Bengals need another pass rusher and there is no secret there. Gary has raised concerns with his injury issues, but when he’s healthy, he has top 10 talent.
Green Bay Packers: Devin Bush, LB
It is a toss up between Noah Fant or Devin Bush here but the Packers continue to build their defense up and I belie address offense with their second pick in the first round.
Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DL Clemson
The Dolphins had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last season and also struggled to get to the QB. Wilkins can do both and is extremely talented. This is a perfect fit. Dark horse candidate for Josh Rosen.
Atlanta Falcons: Dexter Lawrence. DL Clemson
The Falcons need defensive line help and Lawrence is a beast up front. 340 pounds that can move quick. Many question if he would even go in the first since he was suspended for PEDs in the College Football Playoff, but those questions have faded. A big talent that is needed up front for the Falcons.
Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB Ohio State
Haskins will be on the Redskins roster one way or another after Thursday night. He is their guy.
Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, DE Florida State
Carolina ranked 27th in sacks per a game last season, and Burns is one of the best pass rushers in this draft.
New York Giants: Daniel Jones, QB Duke
The Giants love him and there is a connection between the two and Jones’s college coach tutored Eli Manning. Could potentially be a reach here at 17, or you could see some more defense here.
Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT Washington State
The Vikings need some help up front and Dillard is that guy. Terrific pass blocker and will also help improve the running game.
Tennessee Titians: Montez Sweat, DE Mississippi State
A top 5 talent who’s stock has fallen due to a heart condition. We have seen things like this in the past, including last season with Maurice Hurst. Sweat still blew everybody away at the combine with his 40 time that would be considered “fast” for a receiver. Titians roll the dice and get a steal here.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB Washington
Need some young faces in the secondary and Murphy is one of the best Corners in this draft. Will have time to be patient and fully develop behind a couple veterans in Haden and Nelson.
Seattle Seahawks: Clein Ferrell, DE/LB Clemson
Seahawks could trade down but with Ferrell sitting on the board, you take him and run. They have to replace Frank Clark and this is a good quality pick late in the first that could end up being a steal.
Baltimore Ravens: Garrett Bradbury, C NC State
Again, another team that needs help protecting their future at QB,
Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OL Oklahoma
Some see this low for Cody Ford. Several don’t see him sliding past the Falcons at 14, but the Texans offensive line needs some help, and they will pounce on this pick if Ford indeed falls this far.
Oakland Raiders: Noah Fant, TE Iowa
Raiders lost Jared Cook and can get a very reliable guy in Fant to replace him. Perfect fit ad gives Carr another weapon to throw to long side Antonio Brown.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jerry Tillery, DT Notre Dame
Eagles defense was bad last season, mainly because of their pass rush. Tillery can create chaos in the middle and get to the QB.
Indianapolis Colts: Johnathan Abram, S Mississippi State
A guy who’s stock has exploded and the Colts seem to be a perfect fit to tighten up their secondary and potentially give them another piece to the puzzle.
Oakland Raiders: Greedy Williams, CB LSU
Raiders again need help everywhere on defense and they land what everybody considers the top corner in the draft. He is sort of a project because his tackling is something that holds him back.
Los Angeles Chargers: Dalton Risner, OL Kansas State
Interior offensive line is a need for the Chargers who have a very solid team coming back. A little more beef up front on both sides of the ball and they are a real threat in the AFC.
Seattle Seahawks: Chauncey Gardner Johnson, S Florida
They get right back where they left off, CGJ is a long and athletic and can be a replacement for Kam Chancelor.
Green Bay Packers: Irv Smith Jr, TE Alabama
Jimmy Graham’s days in Green Bay are numbered and Irv Smith is versatile tight end that would make a leap with a guy like Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
Los Angeles Rams: Jeffrey Simmons, DT Mississippi State
They have to replace Suh and Simmons has a chance to be a big time threat beside Aaron Doanld once he recovers from the knee injury.
New England Patriots: D.K. Metcalf, WR Ole Miss
Cause Why not give Brady another weapon?
Sleeper QB that could go in round 1: Will Grier
Bob Lancaster’s picks:
1. Arizona- Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma
2. San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa Edge Rush Ohio State
3. New York Jets- Quinnen Williams DT Alabama Look to see a few teams try and trade up here
4. Oakland Raiders- Josh Allen Edge Rush Kentucky/ Kyler Murray if Arizona takes Bosa
5. Tampa Bay Bucaneers- Devin White LB LSU / Redskins try and get this pick for Lock or Haskins
6. New York Giants- Drew Lock QB Missouri
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jawaan Taylor OT Florida
8. Detroit Lions- Rashan Gary Edge Rush Michigan
9. Buffalo Bills- TJ Hockenson TE Iowa / I think Falcons or Seahawks trade for Ed Oliver
The Falcons announced on Wednesday afternoon that they have picked up the 5th year option on Pro Bowl Safety Keanu Neal for the 2020 season. Neal, who is coming off a torn ACL last year against the Eagles in week 1 is entering his 4th year in the NFL and hopes to bring a spark back to the defense this season.
The Falcons continue to add depth to both sides of the lines of scrimmage on Tueday when they signed old friend, Defensive End Chris Odom from the AAF and OT John Wetzel.
Odom was a member of the Falcons during the 2017 preseason and was released and went on to the spend the remainder of the season in Green Bay. In the AAF, he tallied up 2.5 sacks in 8 games for the Salt Lake Stallions. Odom’s deal is for two years.
John Wetzel signed a one year deal and was key piece in the Arizona Cardinal offensive line the past 3 seasons, but had his 2018 season end early due to a neck injury this past November. He appeared in 40 games in Arizona while starting in 24 of them.
Neither one of these deals are going to have other contenders scrambling to make a counter move, but they are quality signings that provide much needed depth in the trenches.
With the Tyler Davison signing, the Falcons may be set at DT, but with a chance to get Dexter Lawrence and have one of the best defensive tackle tandems in football, I don’t think they should pass him up. The Falcons have the 14th overall pick in the draft and wouldn’t be able to draft Lawrence at that spot, but rumors of a trade to the 7th with Detroit would give us a chance.
Lawrence is 6’4 342 lbs with 5 star speed and size. He is not the best against the pass but his run stuffing powers would work perfect along side Grady Jarrett. He has long arms,exceptional speed,amazing worth ethic and versatile skill. There is nothing he can’t do at defensive tackle and he is ready to make a NFL impact now. He did suffer a leg injury during his 40 yard dash at the combine but it doesn’t look to be anything serious. Some people question PED’s or his lack of effort to get to the QB but Lawrence won’t let it phase him. He did fail a drug test for marijuana that kept him out the championship game and that might cause some people to be cautious but his talent is worth it and would be a steal for us if we chose to jump to 7. We wouldn’t need Lawrence to play every down just mostly on known run plays and first downs. Dexter feels he has a chip on his shoulder and can’t wait to go to the NFL and prove people wrong. This is the kind of player Atlanta needs.
The Falcons met with him twice which means they were looking at him hard and wants to see how he’ll fit our system. When the Falcons had the Jarret – Poe tandem a couple years ago the run defense was unstoppable and getting Dexter Lawrence can only repeat that, if not be better. Our run defense was one of the worst in the league last year and another year of that might cost Quinn his job. Quinn has been good drafting defense in the past and I trust his judgment on whoever he chooses to pick.
The Falcons need help on the defensive line and there is no doubt abut that. From being 22nd in the NFL in sacks and 25th in run defense, literally anything can help. Just so happens that a guy who was poorly utilized in college, Ed Oliver, could be on the board and has eye popping talent and combine numbers that drew comparisons to Aaron Donald. Definitely a lofty comparison, but it is well deserved.
Ed Oliver stands at 6’1 and weighs in at 287 pounds. A little bit small for an interior defensive lineman but the before mentioned Aaron Donald also stands at 6’1. Just turn on the tape, and you will see why Oliver has big time potential but also big time question marks.
The biggest question mark, which really shouldn’t be one is his character. One blow up on the sideline with a coach over wearing a jacket got the scouts writing all kinds of things about what kind of teammate he is. Long story short, that one incident should not haunt him at all on draft day because he was a silly situation to begin with, and if he was poor character guy, he wouldn’t have stayed home and become the first 5 star recruit to ever go to a non power 5 program.
His nonstop motor and explosive first step is what has teams drooling over him. With his size, he needs that quick first step on the interior linemen to shoot the gaps and it works as he is a pest to block and would form a terrific, but undersized, DLine duo of him and Grady Jarrett.
With the Falcons running a 4-3, there could be times where you see Oliver slide out to the edge for a play, and with Dan Quinn running the show on defense this season, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him have a couple of packages like that, especially with the recent signing of Tyler Davison.
Oliver’s run defense is probably the biggest question mark in his game due to his size. I just do not see that being an issue with his explosiveness and quick first step. He is not doubt a better pass rusher than a run defender, but he can develop into an absolute star in both areas.
Ed Oliver overall has All Pro potential. He can help jump-start a Falcons defense that desperately needs it after last season, but also adds back Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen in the secondary. A guy like Ed Oliver on the DLine could really do wonders for this defense and give them a big jump in the defensive rankings.
The Falcons may be forced to trade up to get Ed Oliver, but we have seen in the past with the Julio Jones trade a few years back, if they like a player, they will do what it takes to get him.
The Falcons bolstered their safety/defensive back depth Friday afternoon by signing Afolabi Laguda(24) to a two year contract. He previously was released by the Rams following the 2018 preseason after suffering an injury. He was teammates with Isiah Oliver at the University of Colorado and he is a native of Snellville, GA where he attended Brookwood High School.
Chris Cooper was the other signing today as the 25 year old DB also inked a two year deal. He played his college ball at Stony Brook and was a part of the Chiefs practice squad during their most recent playoff run.