FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The 2018 NFL combine has come and gone, but the evaluation of prospects for the upcoming draft never ends. There are more pressing needs for the Falcons than the secondary, but it's a position group where teams can never have too much depth and versatility.
Defensive backs are also key contributors on special teams, and that alone can make them worth a late-round selection.
It's unknown whether or not the Falcons will opt to draft a defensive back in this year's draft, and they've got a good starting corps in place. Depth is important in the secondary, however, so the Falcons could always opt to use a pick on a player they can invest in for the future.
I've identified a few defensive backs in this year's class who could make sense for the Falcons. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order:
Marcus Allen, S, Penn State:The godson of Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin, Allen was a big contributor for Penn State throughout his entire career. Although some scouts believe he is limited in coverage and works best when attacking downhill, Allen is a hard worker who could immediately become an impact player on special teams.
- Comparable: Clayton Geathers
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: At 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, Allen could slide in behind Keanu Neal as a backup strong safety with the potential to become an impact player on special teams. He's also got a competitive nature, something the Falcons look for.
Duke Dawson CB 5'10" from Florida. Duke has one of the best backpedals I've seen but is tight hipped and loses speed in transition. He will be a nickel corner and should go early day 3#DukeDawson #florida #nfldraft #gators @49ersHive pic.twitter.com/vm3SiZVmz1 — NFL Draft and 49ers (@JL_Chapman) February 4, 2018
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida:With two former Florida Gators in the secondary already, would anybody really be surprised if the Falcons added another? Especially when Dawson has drawn comparisons to current nickel corner Brian Poole. Dawson is very good in press coverage and can mirror receivers out of their break. He was targeted 48 times in 2017 and allowed just 21 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns while intercepting the ball four times.
- Comparable: Brian Poole
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Dawson isn't the best athlete in the world, but he is a technically sound football player who has a lot of qualities that could benefit the Falcons.
UT junior DB DeShon Elliott will skip his senior season (including the #Longhorns bowl game) to enter the NFL Draft. Can't blame the Thorpe Award finalist - his draft stock couldn't get much higher. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/LeyzzcinP3 — Dennis de la Pena (@dennisonfox7) November 30, 2017
Deshon Elliott, S, Texas:In his first year as a starter for the Longhorns, Elliott was named a First Team All-American and led all safeties with six interceptions. Currently projected by some to go on Day 3, he could become a late-round steal for some team. Elliott is a leader on defense and has an aggressive, physical mindset.
- Comparable: Not available
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Elliott always seemed to be in position to make a play on the ball. He's got decent range as a deep safety and isn't afraid to come up and help against the run. Elliott could become an effective player in the future and make an impact on special teams in Year 1.
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina:Like Dawson, Stewart is a cornerback who can play press coverage with great success. He's also shown potential to be an effective player in off coverage, making him an interesting prospect for the Falcons' defensive schemes. Versatility is Stewart's greatest attribute at this moment, as he does a lot of things well and can be a player who defenses move around to different spots.
- Comparable: Micah Hyde
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Stewart is projected to come off the board on Day 2, but he can play all over the field, is an effective blitzer and plays both press and off coverage. If the Falcons deem he's worth a Day-2 pick, he has the tools to become a nice cog in the secondary.
The night before his first Spring Game, his father passed away.
This week, the national champion CB is shining at the @seniorbowl.
Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama:A Day-3 pick, Wallace is the rare player coming out of Alabama who wasn't an elite high school prospect. In fact, he was a walk-on with the Crimson Tide who earned his way into become a starter in the College Football Playoff. Has long arms to breakup passes and possesses quick feet to match receivers in and out of breaks.
- Comparable: Not available
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: The Falcons love competitiveness, and nothing demonstrates a competitive mindset more than earning your way from walk-on to starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide.