Matt Tabeek's 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons waste little time addressing defensive tackle

Posted Mar 1, 2018

This draft class is deep along the offensive and defensive lines, and that's good news for Atlanta

If we've learned anything this week, it's that there's a very good chance the Atlanta Falcons will be in the market for at least one or two defensive tackles this offseason. In case you missed it, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis that Dontari Poe "will be going to the market" and is "going to sign a deal somewhere and be happy."

Now, could "somewhere" be Atlanta? Technically, I suppose it still could be, but it sure doesn't seem like that's the case here. At all. And that comment definitely makes the Falcons' pick in my first NFL mock draft of the year a little easier.

I think by now you know where I'm going with this, right?

I should point out that I am not privy to any insider information, any draft boards or any conversations whatsoever inside the building about personnel. So, keep in mind that all of this - all 32 picks below - is just my opinion based on what I've seen and read the past several months.

Alright, on to the mock draft.

Pick Analysis

Cleveland Browns
QB Sam Darnold, USC. There is some talk that the Browns could make a push for free agent Kirk Cousins, but I think they'll end taking Darnold with the top pick. Darnold can be streaky, but he entered 2017 as the No. 1 prospect for a reason. He can step in and play.

Pick Analysis

New York Giants    RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State. I think new Giants GM Dave Gettleman will make some moves to shore up the offensive line in free agency. That will allow the Giants to select one of the most exciting and versatile running backs we've seen in some time. A special talent who will make life easier for Eli Manning and Co.

Pick Analysis

Indianapolis Colts
G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame. This seems like a no-brainer to me. Quarterback Andrew Luck has taken a beating since arriving in the NFL and missed all of 2017 due to injuries. The Colts take Nelson, perhaps the best prospect in the draft who should be a stalwart on their offensive line for the next decade.

Pick Analysis

Cleveland Browns
DE Bradley Chubb, NC State. The Browns select the top defensive end in the NFL Draft for the second year in a row, making Chubb the perfect bookend to last year's No. 1 overall pick, Myles Garrett. The explsoive Chubb has the potential to be a dominant pass rusher for years to come in the NFL.

Pick Analysis

Denver Broncos
OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame. This pick is based on the Broncos landing a veteran quarterback in free agency, and I think it'll be Kirk Cousins. Regardless of who's behind center, bolstering the offensive line is high priority for the Broncos and the 6-foot-8 McGlinchey, who is a first cousin of Matt Ryan, fits the bill.

Pick Analysis

New York Jets    QB Josh Rosen, UCLA. The Jets need a franchise quarterback to build around and are ecstatic to see Rosen still on the board. Some believe he is the best quarterback prospect in this class. Yes, there are questions about his attitude, but the bottom line is that the kid can play.

Pick Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FS Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. The Buccaneers need help at defensive end and running back, but Fitzpatrick is too good to pass up here because he played both corner and safety at 'Bama. The kid can cover, run and hit. Can't have enough of those types of players in your secondary.

Pick Analysis

Chicago Bears
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama. The Bears landed their franchise quarterback last year in Mitchell Trubisky and they've got a potent 1-2 backfield punch in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. But the missing ingredient to that offense has been receiver -- and the speedy Ridley, the top receiver in this class, fills that void.

Pick Analysis

San Francisco 49ers    CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State. The 49ers need a pass rusher and help along the offensive line, but they also need a lockdown corner. Ward is an athletic ballhawk with tremendous hand skills. The one knock is that he's only 5-foot-10 and has a smaller frame.

Pick Analysis

Oakland Raiders
LB Roquan Smith, Georgia. The Raiders need help at linebacker and all Smith does is fly around the field and make plays. Despite being on the small side for a linebacker, the Georgia star has great speed, football instincts and is a leader. He should flourish on a unit that already includes Khalil Mack.

Pick Analysis

Miami Dolphins
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma. Is Ryan Tannehill the long-term answer in Miami? Between Tannehill's injury concerns and the inconsistent play of Jay Cutler last season, the Dolphins pull the trigger on the fiery, tough and exciting Mayfield. The ex-Sooner should fit well into Adam Gase's offense.

Pick Analysis

Cincinnati Bengals
OT Connor Williams, Texas. The Bengals have seen a number of key free agents walk over the last few years, and none bigger than tackle Andrew Whitworth (who helped turned the Rams offense around in 2017). The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Williams is a locker room leader and fills a major need in Cincy.

Pick Analysis

Washington Redskins
DT Vita Vea, Washington. The Redskins need help along the defensive front and at linebacker and the mammoth Vea -- who is 6-foot-4, 344 pounds -- actually helps both areas. The ex-Husky is run stopper and should help collapse the pocket on a regular basis.

Pick Analysis

Green Bay Packers    CB Josh Jackson, Iowa. The Packers need help at cornerback, receiver and offensive tackle. They addressed corner last year when they added Kevin King, but Jackson is too good to pass up here. He's the definition of a ball hawk with 27 passes defensed and eight interceptions.

Pick Analysis

Arizona Cardinals
QB Josh Allen, Wyoming. Allen was all the talk before the college football season started. And then the Cowboys struggled in 2017, hurting his draft stock. The Cardinals desperately need a quarterback and are thrilled to land one who some think has the best arm and size in this draft class.

Pick Analysis

Baltimore Ravens
LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech. The Ravens have major needs at receiver and tight end, but they also could use help at linebacker. Enter Edmunds, a tall linebacker -- he's 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds -- who can run and hit like a truck. He's the son of former NFL tight end Ferrell Edmunds.

Pick Analysis

Los Angeles Chargers    DT Da'Ron Payne, Alabama. The Chargers appear to be set at defensive end but adding Payne here will definitely shore up the run defense for the Bolts, which surrendered a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry in 2017. Payne, who is 6-2 and 308 pounds, has been described as a wall of granite. Enough said.

Pick Analysis

Seattle Seahawks

FS Derwin James, Florida State. The Legion of Boom is reaching the end? Let's tap the brakes a little. If the Seahawks can land James here (which will be somewhat shocking), the 12's will be going nuts after adding the best safety in this draft class. He's a playmaker who can blitz, cover and hit.

Pick Analysis

Dallas Cowboys
DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA. Depending on what happens with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys could be looking hard at what appears to be a thin class at receiver. Michigan's Maurice Hurst will also be tempting here, too. But Dallas goes for the pass rusher, and Davenport has the potential to be very special.

Pick Analysis

Detroit Lions
DE-OLB Harold Landry, Boston College. Now that Matt Patricia is in town running the show, expect the Lions' defense to get a makeover. The versatile Landry, who can play in both a 3-4 and 4-3, should help. Landry compares to Bruce Irvin and has the potential to register double-digit sacks on an annual basis.

Pick Analysis

Buffalo Bills
OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma. Buffalo has needs at quarterback, offensive and defensive line, but with the first of back-to-back picks, the Bills begin shoring up the offensive line by taking the massive (6-8, 360 pounds) ex-Sooner here. Taking a center here to replace Eric Wood is tempting, but Brown is the pick.

Pick Analysis

Buffalo Bills
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville. While no one -- outside of Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane -- knows Tyrod Taylor's long-term future with the club, Buffalo gets its QB of the future with Jackson. There are questions about his accuracy on the run, but comparisons to Michael Vick are spot on.

Pick Analysis

Los Angeles Rams    DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma. Some might think this is too high for the former Sooner, but all he's done the last two seasons is tally 17 sacks and 146 tackles while terrorizing the Big 12. The Rams need help at linebacker and with their edge rush and the compactly built Okoronkwo will provide it.

Pick Analysis

Carolina Panthers
G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia. It's looking more and more like guard Andrew Norwell is heading for free agency and a big payday -- and if that happens, the Panthers will replace him with Wynn. The former Georgia star played both tackle and guard but will likely play the latter in the NFL since he's 6-foot-2.

Pick Analysis

Tennessee Titans
CB Mike Hughes, UCF. The Titans need help with their pass rush, at guard and in the defensive backfield. With Hughes still available, Tennessee pulls the trigger on the former UCF star who impressed scouts when he was matched up against high-quality receivers. Hughes is also a capable return man.

Pick Analysis

Atlanta Falcons
DT Taven Bryan, Florida. While we haven't even hit free agency yet, one thing is clear: the Falcons will likely need to bolster their interior defensive line -- and there's a lot to like about Bryan, who is the son of a Navy SEAL. Bryan is quick, aggressive and can play both defensive tackle and end, which Dan Quinn likes.

Pick Analysis

New Orleans Saints    TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State. The Saints will likely be looking to address tight end, receiver and possibly their quarterback of the future by the time April gets here. But for now, I have them taking the best tight end in this draft class. Goedert is 6-5, 250 pounds and can get downfield to catch the ball.

Pick Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers
LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama. The Steelers have a definite need at inside linebacker and the 6-foot-3, 234-pound Evans compares to Lawrence Timmons and can play all three downs. Evans is a perfect fit for the Steelers defense, which will be without the injured Ryan Shazier for the 2018 season.

Pick Analysis

Jacksonville Jaguars
WR Courtland Sutton, SMU. Topping the Jaguars' list of needs is receiver, guard and tight end. Regardless of what Jacksonville does with its current crop of receivers, I think they'll look for help in the draft and Sutton -- who is 6-foot-4, 218 pounds -- will be a welcome (and hard to miss) target for Blake Bortles.

Pick Analysis

Minnesota Vikings
G Will Hernandez, UTEP. This pick is based on the assumption that the Vikings will address their quarterback situation during free agency. Regardless, Minnesota needs to address the offensive line and Hernandez is their best option at No 30. Hernandez started 37 games at UTEP and some scouts have compared him to Richie Incognito.

Pick Analysis

New England Patriots    CB Carlton Davis, Auburn. One area the Patriots could end up addressing is cornerback, especially when you consider Malcolm Butler's benching prior to the Super Bowl. If that's the case, Davis -- who is 6-1, 203 pounds and has been compared to Richard Sherman -- is the pick here for the defending AFC champs.

Pick Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles
LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State. I was tempted to go with USC running back Ronald Jones or even Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst here, but the Eagles need to address linebacker, especially with Nigel Bradham about to hit free agency. Vander Esch, a former basketball standout, has the athletic ability and tools to become a stud inside.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of the individual authors. Unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Atlanta Falcons’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The writers’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Falcons officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.