This week, ESPN NFL Draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. released their latest mock drafts, and while there weren't many similarities in their picks, they each predicted the Falcons will take a Michigan Wolverine in the first round.
McShay believes Atlanta will select Jabrill Peppers, a safety/linebacker hybrid who has garnered a lot of praise for his versatility. The 5-foot-11, 213-pounder makes up for his relatively slim frame with an aggressive mindset, athleticism and blazing speed. According to mockdraftable.com, his 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine ranks in the 98th percentile among linebackers.
"Dan Quinn has shown a willingness to bring in versatile defensive players (Keanu Neal and Deion Jones were the Falcons' first two picks last year). Indeed, peppers has rare versatility and great straight-line speed (4.46 40), but he also shows limitations in coverage," McShay wrote. "Landing with an open-minded coach like Quinn would benefit Peppers in the long term."
Kiper's pick, Taco Charlton, could bolster Atlanta's front seven in a big way. The 6-foot-6, 277-pounder is a well-rounded defensive end, one who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last year. His raw stats (9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss) may not stick out as much as those of other pass-rushers in this draft class, but Charlton possesses the kind of height and length needed to thrive at the next level, and he's considered a strong fit in 4-3 schemes like Atlanta's.
"Vic Beasley Jr. had 15.5 sacks last season, but no other Falcon had more than 4.5 (Adrian Clayborn). That's where Charlton comes in," Kiper wrote, "and he can hold up against the run, too. He has very long arms, measuring at 34 ¼ inches."
Previously, as noted in AtlantaFalcons.com's first mock draft monitor, McShay had the Falcons choosing Alabama OL Cam Robinson, while Kiper had them taking Charlton.
In the second round, McShay believes Atlanta will go after another Michigan product: defensive tackle Chris Wormley. At 6-foot-5 and 298 pounds, he could strengthen the Falcons' defensive line at a number of spots.
"Wormley does his best work against the run and posted 23 tackles for loss in his past two seasons," McShay wrote. "The Falcons could use more help in that regard along the interior of their D-line."
Kiper predicts the Falcons will look toward Desmond Trufant's alma mater and position at No. 63 overall and pick Washington cornerback Sidney Jones. Expected to be a first-round pick following the combine, Jones tore an Achilles during Washington's pro day and could see his stock tumble in Philadelphia.
According to Kiper, the Falcons could essentially redshirt the 6-foot, 186-pounder, given how much depth they have in the secondary and be patient with one of the most gifted athletes available.