With the 2020 NFL Draft only days away, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted last Wednesday that teams around the league believe the Atlanta Falcons are a team that may be looking to move up during the first round.
The Falcons currently hold the No. 16 pick in the draft and are expected to select one of the top defenders to help bolster that side of the ball. There are some quality players who may be available when the Falcons come on the clock at 16, guys like former LSU edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson or former South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
With reports trickling out that former Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson's draft stock is rising, it's no longer clear if he would still be on the board if the Falcons choose to stick put. Of course, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will have a clearer idea of what could happen on draft night than just about anyone, and he's never been afraid to make moves.
- Round 1 (16)
- Round 2 (47)
- Round 3 (78)
- Round 4 (119)
- Round 4 (134)
- Round 7 (228)
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout in the league, also has his finger on the pulse of how the draft could play out. When asked who the Falcons could be targeting if they do decide to make a move up the draft board, Jeremiah had four players come to mind.
"I think you're looking for impact defensive players," Jeremiah said. "We kicked this around the other day on 'Path to the Draft,' but to me the four players who made sense were, you trade up for [Jeff] Okudah to give you a premier corner. You trade up Henderson, you wouldn't have to go up as far, but you'd probably have to go up a little bit to get him for those top two corners. Or, if Derrick Brown or Kinlaw started to drop a little bit, you could go up in range and get them."
Jeremiah mentioned who many consider to be the top two cornerbacks in this draft and the top two defensive tackles, which would make sense given the Falcons' needs at this point. Any of those players could potentially bring a lot to Atlanta.
What makes this an interesting year for the Falcons, however, is that they could conceivably target a player at just about any spot on their defense. After parting ways with free agent linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, the team's leading tackler the past two seasons, Atlanta could even look to add another player at that position. That's a thought that has also crossed Jeremiah's mind, and there's one player who would make sense from that standpoint.
"The more that I thought about it, I thought, wait a second, sometimes we see these off-the-ball linebackers drift a little bit further than they should in terms of where they were rated, and Isaiah Simmons is the third-best player in the draft," Jeremiah said. "But if he were to start getting down into range where you had the ammunition there in Atlanta and you wanted to good up and get him, man, that would be fun to plug him into that defense and that scheme and let him run around.
"When you're in a division like they are and you've got to see [Alvin] Kamara, and you've got to see Christian McCaffrey, having a guy like Isaiah Simmons can kind of help erase some of that. So that would be fun to see him get plugged in there and play next to Deion Jones. That would be a lot of speed out there."
Simmons is the most versatile player in this year's draft. He played both safety and linebacker during his career at Clemson and did both at a very high level. Simmons also showed the ability to rush the passer effectively, as evidenced by his eight sacks in 2019. Given that the Falcons have a few areas on defense that they would like to improve, taking a player like Simmons might benefit them the most.
But, like the late Heath Ledger's Joke character from "The Dark Knight," Jeremiah isn't opposed to introducing a little anarchy and upsetting the established order. In that sense, he implores the Falcons to go for the ultimate prize.
"But let's go for it, though, forget all that," Jeremiah said. "Let's just go all the way up and get Chase Young."