We are less than two weeks away from the NFL Draft, one like we've never seen or experienced before, either. In the midst of a pandemic, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed the league that the draft would proceed in a fully virtual format. With team personnel being advised to be in separate locations (using phone and the internet to communicate), it'll be extraordinary watching this three-day event unfold.
As the Atlanta Falcons inch closer to the first round, which kicks off on April 23, both general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn told me they like how the Falcons are set up, especially coming out of free agency. Both gentlemen also said they like the Falcons' chances of landing of player who not only fills a need and is a fit team- and scheme-wise, but who could very well be the best player available talent-wise when they pick at 16 (should they stay put).
So, without further ado, here is mock draft 8.0. Let me know how you feel about the pick here. Enjoy.
1. QB Joe Burrow, LSU
The Bengals need a franchise QB and it's no secret they have eyes for the star out of LSU. Unless something unforeseen happens, Burrow appears to be a lock at No. 1.
2. DE Chase Young, Ohio State
Young might be the closest thing to a sure thing in this draft class, so there's no way the Redskins will pass on the player who sits atop most draft boards, right?
3. CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
The Lions signed former Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant in free agency but they also traded Darius Slay to the Eagles. Taking the former Ohio State star here makes sense and bolsters that secondary.
4. OL Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
The Giants must do a better job of up front and protecting former first-round pick Daniel Jones. Taking the ex-Crimson Tide star here is an easy choice here.
5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The Dolphins have made some splashy moves in free agency and continue to overhaul their team by landing Tua Tagovailoa. Considering the recent reports about Tagovailoa's medical prognosis, it appears he'll be ready to go.
6. QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
It's a new era for the Chargers and they need to create some excitement coming out of this draft. There's no better time to bring in a top talent at the most important position, and Herbert is a stud.
7. LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
The Panthers need some help in a number of areas on defense, including filling a major void at linebacker. They pounce on the chance to land the best one in this class in Simmons, who turned a lot of heads at the combine.
8. OL Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Kyler Murray had a terrific rookie season but was hit and sacked way too many times. Becton impressed a lot of NFL personnel types at the combine with his athleticism and should fight in nicely in Arizona.
9. DL Derrick Brown, Auburn
It would not surprise me at all to see the Jags take a quarterback here, but they've got to be ecstatic to see Brown on the board here. The former Tiger is a monster inside and will provide an immediate spark on defense.
10. OL Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
It is no secret that the Browns' top priority is to improve the protection up front and bolster that offensive line. The former Hawkeye star is more than capable.
11. WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
The Jets made a series of moves in free agency to bolster that offensive line and that will allow them to select one of the best playmakers in this class on the outside.
12. WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
I could totally see Jon Gruden taking a quarterback here (see Jordan Love), but he also knows his team desperately needs to add a downfield threat on offense. Taking the speedster out of Alabama does the trick.
13. DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Yes, they re-signed Arik Armstead in free agency but traded away DeForest Buckner, a former first-round pick. They jump on the chance to take the former South Carolina star, who is the best pass-rushing interior lineman in this class.
14. OL Andrew Thomas, Georgia
The Bucs know they must protect their prized free-agent signing in quarterback Tom Brady. Taking Thomas, who put his eye-opening athleticism on display at the combine, is an easy selection here.
15. WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
The Broncos need a downfield threat to pair with Courtland Sutton on the outside. The speedy Lamb is more than capable.
16. DE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Dan Quinn told me he wants to add another pass rusher to his team, even with Dante Fowler and Takk McKinley coming off the edge. Chaisson is an explosive edge rusher who can also play the run and drop back in coverage.
17. CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
The Cowboys made tough decisions this offseason and had to part ways with cornerback Byron Jones. They take the silky-smooth and speedy Henderson, who can step right in and start on Day 1.
18. OL Josh Jones, Houston
The Dolphins continue the rebuilding and take the athletic lineman out of Houston to help protect their new franchise quarterback.
19. LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Even though the Raiders signed a pair of linebackers in free agency, they take one more with their second pick and land the explosive, instinctive star from LSU.
20. DE/LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin
They go defense again, taking the versatile star out of Wisconsin. Baun is a sideline-to-sideline wrecking ball.
21. WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
The Eagles addressed one glaring need in free agency (cornerback) and opt to fill another major void at receiver, taking the speedy Higgins, who will also provide Carson Wentz with a large target.
22. WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
The Vikings pulled the trigger and traded receiver Stefon Diggs to the Bills. They fill the void here by taking Reagor, who is built like a running back but has downfield speed.
23. DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
The Patriots will likely sign or trade for a veteran quarterback and bolster the defense with one of the best edge rushers in this class.
24. CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
With the NFC South loaded with talented quarterbacks and explosive receivers, the Saints take Fulton, who is considered to be "one of the stickiest man-cover corners in all of college football."
25. CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The Vikings secondary could take some hits in free agency and snag the star corner from Alabama.
26. DE Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Despite adding Lawson and Ogbah in free agency, Miami goes defense this time and takes Lewis, a tall and physical game-wrecker on the edge.
27. WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Edge rusher and offensive line are needs but Russell Wilson needs some more weapons at his disposal. Jefferson is a playmaker.
28. LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
C.J. Mosely's departure left a void in the Ravens defense and they tab Murray as the guy to fill it.
29. DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
The Titans added Vic Beasley in free agency and continue to bolster their pass rush by selecting Epenesa, a high-motor pass rusher from Iowa.
30. WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons and the former Baylor star stood out at the NFL combine.
31. OL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
The 49ers need help up front and Ruiz is considered the best center in this class and can also slide over and play guard.
32. RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia
The Chiefs' secondary has taken somewhat of a hit in free agency, but they jump on Swift, the best running back in this class.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here belong to Matthew Tabeek and and do not represent the opinions of the Atlanta Falcons' front office staff, coaches and executives unless noted otherwise.