Before we offer up our final first-round mock draft next week, let's take some time to focus on what the Falcons might do – not just with the fourth overall pick but throughout the draft.
Atlanta has nine picks overall, including three in the fifth round and two in the sixth. Of course, what the Falcons do with the fourth overall pick will undoubtedly affect the direction they go in subsequent rounds. And there's no guarantee that players they may be targeting even in the second or third rounds will still be available when they're on the clock. For now, here's a (slightly educated) guess as to how it might go…
No. 4: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
We still fully expect the Falcons to trade this pick. So the question is: Which prospect will draw the most interest and force a team to send a bundle of picks to Atlanta for this spot? Lance, a dual threat QB, might not start on Day 1 for the team that drafts him, but he's got a very high ceiling.
If the Falcons don't find a trade partner and decide to draft their QB of the future here, Lance makes sense because he can sit behind Matt Ryan for at least a year.
No. 35: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
This one could be wishful thinking because there's a chance Basham sneaks into the first round. And even if he makes it to Day 2, the two teams picking ahead of Atlanta (Jags, Jets) might both be interested. Heck, if Basham is still available late in the first round, it wouldn't be a bad idea to move up a few spots and grab him. Basham has a non-stop motor and would be a good fit opposite Dante Fowler Jr. Oh yeah, and he's got a great name for a pass rusher.
No. 68: Josh Myers, C, Ohio State
Whether it's finding Alex Mack's replacement at center or taking the best available offensive tackle, the Falcons use this spot to bulk up the front line. There are some OTs worth taking here – maybe BYU's Brady Christensen? – but the 6-5, 312-pound Myers has the foundation, strength and big-game experience to step into the starting lineup quickly.
No. 108: Tre McKitty, TE, Georgia
Okay, so he's not Kyle Pitts. But here's the thing: Most first-round tight ends don't pan out, anyway. George Kittle? Fifth-round pick. Darren Waller? Sixth-round pick. McKitty certainly hasn't been used the way Pitts was in college, but the 6-4, 245-pounder has some potential. He's got 11-inch hands – biggest among the 2021 TE class.
No. 148: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
The Falcons haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2016. In three seasons at Oklahoma and his senior campaign at Ohio State, Sermon never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season – but he flashed his potential when he rushed for a Buckeye record 331 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and followed that with 193 yards vs. Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. We were reminded of his injury history when he went down early in the National Championship Game loss to Alabama—and that's why he's still on the board here -- but a fifth-round flyer is worth the risk for this potentially electric back.
No. 182: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
Safety might be a more pressing need for Atlanta, but you can never have enough cornerback help in the pass-happy NFL. With this pick, the Falcons get a second-generation NFL cornerback. Asante Samuel was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion. His son has similar size and skill.
No. 183: Caden Sterns, S, Texas
The Falcons look to replace departed safety Keanu Neal with Sterns, an underclassman who had a terrific freshman season in 2018 but was slowed by injury as a sophomore. He only played seven games in 2020, but it was enough to show that he has some good coverage skills.
No. 187: Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Few teams have a better 1-2 punch at receiver than Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but it couldn't hurt to at least consider life after Julio. The 6-1, 210-pound Palmer isn't polished, but he turned heads at the Senior Bowl with big-play ability.
No. 219: Tarron Jackson, EDGE, Coastal Carolina
If it were strictly a matter of need, Atlanta might look for a traditional linebacker here. But you can never have enough pass rushers. Jackson could be a developmental player, coming from a smaller school. The reason he could be available in the sixth round is that he was less productive against Coastal Carolina's tougher opponents. But considering Jackson had 18 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons he's an intriguing prospect.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here belong to Craig Ellenport and and do not represent the opinions of the Atlanta Falcons' front office staff, coaches and executives unless it is noted otherwise. Veteran NFL writer Craig Ellenport is editor-in-chief of The33rdTeam.com.
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