Tabeek: Falcons fans got the draft they wanted

Atlanta used four of its six picks on defensive players, addressing some key needs

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For nearly four months, the consensus among readers in Straight from the Beek (and in the hundreds of emails I've received) was that the Falcons needed to address the defense in this draft.

Readers primarily wanted a cornerback, defensive tackle or an edge rusher. Other positions often mentioned were offensive line and linebacker.

And I agreed with you wholeheartedly. In my daily responses in SFTB, I consistently wrote that cornerback was the Falcons' biggest need.

"The Falcons still have to address the back end of that defense, specifically at cornerback," I told Bill from Killen, Alabama. "I like the young players there but that might be the biggest hole on this unit right now."

And go back through my 10 mock drafts where I played out different scenarios with the Falcons' biggest position needs in mind. Here are the position groups I projected Atlanta taking (in order): Edge, CB, DE, LB/Edge, Edge, CB, DT, Edge, CB and DT.

The so-called draft experts even agreed. Go back through our weekly mock draft tracker where we recapped the projected Falcons picks by senior NFL analysts and writers from around the country.

What was the media's consensus? In no specific order, cornerback, edge rusher, defensive tackle and a few picked linebacker.

So, what did the Falcons end up doing on Day 1? Exactly what most of us expected them to do – and what you hoped they'd do. They went cornerback and took A.J. Terrell out of Clemson, a player many predicted would go in the first round. I did, too, in my final mock draft released hours before the draft.

Few were throwing out Terrell's name when they were predicting which corners the Falcons should take, or even Marlon Davidson's name when it came to aiding the pass rush. The names people were clamoring for weren't even there when the Falcons were finally on the clock.

Young? Gone.

Okudah? Gone.

Brown? Gone.

Simmons? Gone.

Henderson? Gone.

Kinlaw? Gone.

It's too easy to say the Falcons should have traded up. To do that you need a willing trade partner – and that clearly didn't happen. At that point they had two options: stay put and take the best player available or trade back.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. Are you addressing a need, or going for the best player available that may not fit your team? If you feel addressing particular positions early in the draft is a requirement, then you have to pick the best player available at that position when you're on the clock.

On Day 2, the Falcons addressed another position that's been a topic of many questions and conversations – defensive line and the pass rush – when they took Davidson out of Auburn.

You wanted a corner and a guy that could disrupt the pocket. The Falcons delivered.

Minutes before the fourth round even began on Saturday, I dropped a poll question on Twitter asking Falcons what position they wanted addressed most on Day 3.

A heavy majority – 73 percent – wanted the Falcons to take a linebacker. And what did they do with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round?

Atlanta selected linebacker Mykal Walker out of Fresno State. Walker, a first-team All-Mountain West and team defensive MVP, bolsters a linebacker corps that lost De'Vondre Campbell in free agency.

Campbell, for what it's worth, also happened to be a fourth-rounder and picked 115th overall back in 2016. I'd say that worked out OK for the Falcons.

The Falcons continued to fortify their defensive backfield in the fourth round and selected another playmaker in safety Jaylinn Hawkins out of Cal. Based on what we've seen unfold on the back end of this Falcons defense the past two seasons in terms of injuries, it looks like a wise move.

Mock drafts are always a crapshoot, but many of them – many in the national media, including yours truly – were way off this year. Why is that? Well, some think the pandemic possibly had something to do it and that there was less sharing of information this year.

Maybe, but who knows.

Look, as you go through all of the draft grades and compare selections to where they were projected to go, keep one very important thing in mind: The only draft board that matters is the one that takes place on the field over the next two to three seasons.

That's when you'll know whether your team truly whiffed or knocked that selection out of the park.

For now, there are no more mock drafts, and we no longer have to guess what general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn will do with the No. 16 overall pick. They've made their moves and picked their guys.

They've also tipped their hands, showed us what kind of players they want and revealed what kind of team they want to field in 2020.

Based on the four players they took over the last three days, it's pretty clear the Falcons are looking for playmakers and war daddies on defense.

Exactly what you were hoping for.

Apr-15-2019 15-25-49

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