2018 NFL Draft: Why Penn State's Mike Gesicki could be the Falcons' first-round pick


(AP photo)

*Editor's note: This is the fifth of seven prospect profiles who the Falcons could select with the 26th overall pick in the first round.  *

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have one of the league's most talented rosters, but there are a few positions that they may target with the No. 26 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.


While defensive tackle is considered by many to be the most pressing need, there is a chance that a run on picks at the position in the first round could leave the Falcons exploring other options. If that scenario should play out, Atlanta could choose to add another dynamic weapon to their offense by selecting tight end Mike Gesicki.

This pick may seem unlikely given the Falcons already have a quality starting tight end in Austin Hooper, who is entering his third season, and they added blocking tight end Logan Paulsen in free agency, but adding another dynamic player for opposing defenses to contend with isn't a bad move. Gesicki has been linked to the Falcons in a few mock drafts, including our own Matt Tabeek's and CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso's.

"Surprised by this pick? Don't be," Tabeek writes. "The Falcons addressed their offensive line in free agency and with defensive tackles Taven Bryan and Da'Ron Payne off the board, they'll take arguably the most NFL-ready tight end in this draft class in the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Gesicki, who led all tight ends at the combine in the 40, vertical jump, broad jump and the three-cone. Gesicki adds depth and could also help the Falcons in the red zone, an area they want to improve in come 2018. If you're still skeptical, maybe the one-handed grabs and jump-ball catches will warm you up to the idea of having him in the Falcons offense."

Mike Gesicki had the best 2018 Combine performance among all tight ends in the 40-yard dash (tied), vertical jump, broad jump, and 3-cone drill@PennStateFball pic.twitter.com/tejDdt7pml — NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 3, 2018

The Falcons value athleticism, and there is no more athletic tight end in this draft class than Gesicki. At the NFL combine, Gesicki finished first among tight ends in every single event except for one: the bench press, where he finished second with 22 reps, one rep shy of the leader. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, the same time as highly-regarded receiver prospect Courtland Sutton; his vertical jump of 41.5 inches tied the highest mark at the combine for any position and his 3-cone drill time of 6.76 seconds was faster than either D.J. Moore's or Calvin Ridley's.

Bottom line, Gesicki is a flat-out athlete at the position.

Most importantly, that athleticism translated to the field on Saturday's for Penn State. In his junior and senior seasons, Gesicki caught a combined 105 passes for 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Nittany Lions used Gesicki as a downfield option in the offense, and they actually used him as the wheel-route option of a few play designs.

Of course Gesicki's athleticism also proved valuable inside of the red zone, where he could outmaneuver or jump over opposing defenders. The Falcons finished 23rd in red zone scoring last season, and they've made it an area of emphasis for 2018. Gesicki could provide some value near the goal line.

via GIPHY Although the Falcons already have Hooper, pairing him with another young receiving threat like Gesicki would give the offense several new wrinkles and likely give opposing defenders headaches.

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