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Tabeek's 2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons draft 'explosive freakazoid of an athlete'

The Falcons can address their biggest need by selecting a game-changing defender

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It's the most wonderful time of the year: the NFL postseason is about to kick off.

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Falcons, they'll be sitting home watching the playoffs for a third straight season. That said, there are some exciting times ahead for Atlanta.

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A new general manager and full-time head coach are on the way. And that means changes. Lots of changes. While the new regime will have plenty of work to do with this current Falcons roster, the good news is there are some nice pieces already in place.

What do the Falcons have to do in order to avoid being a spectator this time next year? They can start by drafting game-changers and difference-makers in April.

So, without further ado, here is my first mock draft of 2021. Let me know how you feel about the pick here. Enjoy.

01_JAX_Lawrence
JAX
1
Jaguars_table
QB Trevor Lawrence
Clemson

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags need a quarterback and Trevor Lawrence has all of the physical tools and intangibles teams look for in a prospect. If the Jags put the right pieces around him, he could be that franchise quarterback for years to come.

  • Current picks (round): 1 (1), 21 (1), 33 (2), 45 (2), 65 (3), 97 (4), 117 (4), 129 (5), 150 (5), 193 (7), 216 (7)
01_NYJ_Fields
NYJ
2
Jets_table
QB Justin Fields
Ohio State

New York Jets: Fields is coming off his best performance (22 of 28 for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns vs. Clemson), but I wouldn't be surprised if Zach Wilson goes here, either.

  • Current picks (round): 2 (1), 27 (1), 34 (2), 66 (3), 91 (3), 98 (4), 130 (5), 138 (5), 162 (6), 219 (7)
01_MIA_Chase
MIA
3
Dolphins_table
WR Ja'Marr Chase
LSU

Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Miami needs an elite WR1 and land Ja'Marr Chase who, before opting out in 2020, was considered the best receiver prospect in this class. Chase put up better numbers than Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, DeVonta Smith in 2019.

  • Current picks (round): 3 (1), 18 (1), 36 (2), 50 (2), 82 (3), 114 (4), 187 (6)
01_ATL_Parsons
ATL
4
Falcons_Table
LB/EDGE Micah Parsons
Penn State

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons must improve on defense and Micah Parsons, a game-changing defender who can rush the passer, stuff the run and is effective in pass coverage, makes sense here. ESPN's Todd McShay called him a "top-five player" and Mel Kiper added: "Parsons was all over the field making plays, 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks and four forced fumbles (in 2019). … an outstanding football player." But perhaps my favorite profile on Parsons described him as an "explosive freakazoid of an athlete." Sign me up for some of those, please.

  • Current picks (round): 4 (1), 35 (2), 68 (3), 99 (44), 132 (5), 163 (6)
01_CIN_Sewell
CIN
5
Bengals_table
OL Penei Sewell
Oregon

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals need to build around quarterback Joe Burrow and could go receiver here, but offensive line is a priority and Penei Sewell is considered to be the best prospect in this draft class by many.

  • Current picks (round): 5 (1), 38 (2), 69 (3), 102 (4), 133 (5), 166 (6), 197 (7), 199 (7)
01_PHI_Smith
PHI
6
Eagles_table
WR DeVonta Smith
Alabama

Philadelphia Eagles: It's no secret that the Eagles need dominant receiver who can stretch the field and help Jalen Hurts, Carson Wentz or whoever lines up behind center. Speaking of, I think Philly could also go offensive line here, but DeVonta Smith is too good to pass up.

  • Current picks (round): 6 (1), 37 (2), 70 (3), 134 (5), 140 (5), 165 (6), 198 (7)
01_DET_Paye
DET
7
Lions_table
DE Kwity Paye
Michigan

Detroit Lions: Will they go quarterback, opt to finally give Matthew Stafford some weapons to work with instead or address a defense that's given up 30-plus points in several games? They must address that defense and Kwity Paye, one of the best edge rushers in this class, is the pick here.

  • Current picks (round): 7 (1), 41 (2), 72 (3), 103 (4), 137 (5)
01_CAR_Wilson
CAR
8
Panthers_table
QB Zach Wilson
BYU

Carolina Panthers: Teddy Bridgewater doesn't appear to be the long-term answer at quarterback and Matt Rhule must find his franchise quarterback to build around. Zach Wilson, at times in 2020, looked like the best quarterback prospect in this class. If he's here, I think Carolina takes him.

  • Current picks (round): 8 (1), 39 (2), 73 (3), 104 (4), 135 (5), 169 (6)
01_DEN_Surtain
DEN
9
Broncos_table
CB Patrick Surtain II
Alabama

Denver Broncos: This one is easy. The Broncos need to improve in the secondary and Patrick Surtain II is the best cornerback prospect in this class..

  • Current picks (round): 9 (1), 40 (2), 71 (3), 105 (4), 136 (5), 167 (6), 201 (7), 203 (7), 215 (7)
01_DAL_Pitts
DAL
10
Cowboys_table
TE Kyle Pitts
Florida

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys defense set all sorts of forgettable marks in 2020 and fixing it will be a major priority for the club. However, they also need a tight end and Kyle Pitts looks like he could be a game-changer with his size, speed and freakish receiving skills. I'd be surprised if Dallas passes on Pitts if he's sitting there at No. 10.

  • Current picks (round): 10 (1), 44 (2), 75 (3), 106 (4), 168 (6), 202 (7)
01_NYG_Waddle
NYG
11
Giants_table
WR Jaylen Waddle
Alabama

New York Giants: The Giants must get quarterback Daniel Jones some weapons on the outside to complement Saquon Barkley and the running game. Jaylen Waddle could give Big Blue a much-needed deep threat and make that offense much better.

  • Current picks (round): 11 (1), 42 (2), 76 (3), 107 (4), 172 (6), 177 (6)
01_SF_Farley
SF
12
49ers_table
CB Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech

San Francisco 49ers: Yes, the 49ers have some questions about Jimmy Garoppolo and could go quarterback here, but they are also heading into an offseason with no cornerbacks under contract. Some analysts think Caleb Farley might be just as good as (if not better) than Patrick Surtain II.

  • Current picks (round): 12 (1), 43 (2), 108 (4), 139 (5), 157 (5), 170 (6), 194 (7), 204 (7)
01_LAC_Vera-Tucker
LAC
13
Chargers_table
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
Southern California

Los Angeles Chargers: The good (great) news is that quarterback Justin Herbert looks like the real deal and they've found their franchise quarterback. But … they need to protect him better and find some pieces to put around him. Alijah Vera-Tucker is a competent and nimble blocker.

  • Current picks (round): 13 (1), 47 (2), 78 (3), 109 (4), 143 (5), 174 (6), 182 (6), 205 (7)
01_MIN_Slater
MIN
14
Vikings_table
OL Rashawn Slater
Northwestern

Minnesota Vikings: It could be tempting to take a quarterback here (Trey Lance?) but they must get better up front. Rashawn Slater can play both guard and tackle – and should upgrade the offensive line.

  • Current picks (round): 14 (1), 79 (3), 90 (3), 110 (4), 116 (4), 126 (4), 141 (5), 154 (5), 175 (6), 206 (7)
01_NE_Jones
NE
15
Patriots_table
QB Mac Jones
Alabama

New England Patriots: Cam Newton doesn't appear to be the long-term solution in New England. They need a quarterback and I really like Mac Jones here. If they pass on a signal caller here, they must get whoever lines up under center more weapons to work with.

  • Current picks (round): 15 (1), 46 (2), 111 (4), 142 (5), 171 (6), 173 (6), 207 (7)
01_AZ_Rousseau
AZ
16
Cardinals_Table
DE Gregory Rousseau
Miami

Arizona Cardinals: Good pass rushers are hard to find and Gregory Rousseau, a raw but freakish talent, could be a very good one. Rousseau tallied 15.5 sacks last season in Coral Gables and could give the Cardinals some much-needed firepower coming off the edge.

  • Current picks (round): 16 (1), 49 (2), 80 (3), 144 (5), 208 (7)
01_LV_Owusu-Koramoah
LV
17
Raiders_table
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame

Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders were exposed on defense in 2020 and must improve a unit that was the third-worst in points allowed per game (29.9 per game). Like Micah Parsons, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is listed as a linebacker he can be utilized in a number of different ways (even safety).

  • Current picks (round): 17 (1), 48 (2), 81 (3), 112 (4), 146 (5), 179 (6), 212 (7)
01_MIA_Harris
MIA
18
Dolphins_table
RB Najee Harris
Alabama

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins ground game simply wasn't good enough in 2020 and taking Najee Harris here would provide the Fins with a legitimate threat in the backfield. When's the last time you could say that? Ricky Williams? Ronnie Brown? Mercury Morris? You get the point.

  • Current picks (round): 3 (1), 18 (1), 36 (2), 50 (2), 82 (3), 114 (4), 187 (6)
01_WAS_Lance
WAS
19
Washington_table
QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State

Washington Football Team: Dwayne Haskins was a miss. Alex Smith is an incredible story, but still isn't the long-term answer in D.C. Smith, however, could be the perfect bridge to an up-and-coming talent like Trey Lance who could benefit from sitting, watching and learning.

  • Current picks (round): 19 (1), 51 (2), 74 (3), 83 (3), 115 (4), 147 (5), 209 (7), 211 (7)
01_CHI_Toney
CHI
20
Bears_table
WR Kadarius Toney
Florida

Chicago Bears: It looks like the Bears might be going with Mitchell Trubisky in 2021 after all. Regardless, Chicago needs more playmakers in the passing game. Kadarius Toney has been described as an "electrifying" receiver. He has kick returning skills, too.

  • Current picks (round): 20 (1), 52 (2), 84 (3), 148 (5), 180 (6), 196 (7)
01_JAX_Horn
JAX
21
Jaguars_table
CB Jaycee Horn
South Carolina

Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): The Jaguars selected C.J. Henderson in the first round a year ago and take another corner – Jaycee Horn – to help solidify that secondary. Horn was one of the best corners in the SEC and typically lined up across from team's top receivers.

  • Current picks (round): 1 (1), 21 (1), 33 (2), 45 (2), 65 (3), 97 (4), 117 (4), 129 (5), 150 (5), 193 (7), 216 (7)
01_IND_Trask
IND
22
Colts_table
QB Kyle Trask
Florida

Indianapolis Colts: It looks as though Philip Rivers might call it a career, and it's been a great one. If Trey Lance or Kyle Trask is still sitting here at 22, I think the Colts will pounce. Trask, a Heisman Trophy finalist, had a breakout season in 2020 and showed good touch with his deep ball.

  • Current picks (round): 22 (1), 56 (2), 87 (3), 118 (4), 152 (5), 183 (6), 214 (7)
01_CLE_Kendrick
CLE
23
Browns_table
CB Derion Kendrick
Clemson

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have had all sorts of issues on defense at times this season and it should be a major area of focus heading into the offseason. Adding Derion Kendrick, a potential shutdown corner with terrific ball skills, could be a nice option here.

  • Current picks (round): 23 (1), 54 (2), 88 (3), 93 (3), 101 (4), 119 (4), 149 (5), 184 (6), 222 (7)
01_TEN_Oweh
TEN
24
Titans_table
DE Jayson Oweh
Penn State

Tennessee Titans: The Titans need to generate more pressure. Want proof? They finished the season last in sack percentage (2.9 percent) and third-to-last in pressure rate (20.5 percent). Jayson Oweh is considered to be an excellent athlete with high upside – he had seven sacks during his Penn State career.

  • Current picks (round): 24 (1), 55 (2), 86 (3), 120 (4), 151 (5), 161 (6), 192 (6)
01_TB_Phillips
TB
25
Bucs_table
DE Jaelan Phillips
Miami

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs are focused on winning a ring right now, but they'll have a number of players hitting free agency in the offseason. Defense – and improving that pass rush – should be a priority. Jaelan Phillips, who transferred to Miami, has a non-stop motor and played well for the 'Canes.

  • Current picks (round): 25 (1), 58 (2), 89 (3), 122 (4), 153 (5), 217 (7), 220 (7)
01_BAL_Moore
BAL
26
Ravens_table
WR Elijah Moore
Ole Miss

Baltimore Ravens: Here's another team that needs to address the pass rush but they could face some losses on offense in the offseason. Elijah Moore was extremely productive (86 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns) in 2020 and could fit in nicely with the Ravens.

  • Current picks (round): 26 (1), 57 (2), 121 (4), 156 (5), 185 (6)
01_NYJ_Olave
NYJ
27
Jets_table
WR Chris Olave
Ohio State

New York Jets (via SEA): With Justin Fields in the fold and in need of some weapons on the outside, why not add one of his favorite targets at Ohio State? Chris Olave is known for his terrific route-running skills and should upgrade that unit.

  • Current picks (round): 2 (1), 27 (1), 34 (2), 66 (3), 91 (3), 98 (4), 130 (5), 138 (5), 162 (6), 219 (7)
01_PIT_Mayfield
PIT
28
Steelers_table
OT Jalen Mayfield
Michigan

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers will have some tough decisions to make with their impending free agents (and aging quarterback) but one area they must upgrade is the tackle position. Jalen Mayfield possess ideal size, length, mobility and power – and fits the bill.

  • Current picks (round): 28 (1), 59 (2), 92 (3), 123 (4), 186 (6), 210 (7), 218 (7)
01_NO_Nixon
NO
29
Saints_table
DT Daviyon Nixon
Iowa

New Orleans Saints: Daviyon Nixon, Iowa's ninth consensus All-American, was the Big Ten Conference's Defensive Lineman and Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference in tackles for loss and tied for first in sacks. Nixon can bring the pressure, especially up the middle.

  • Current picks (round): 29 (1), 61 (2), 125 (4)
01_BUF_Campbell
BUF
30
Bills_table
CB Tyson Campbell
Georgia

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback could be a position of need for the Bills and Georgia's Tyson Campbell could fit in nicely. Campbell has decent size (he is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and many think his best football is still in front of him.

  • Current picks (round): 30 (1), 62 (2), 94 (3), 145 (5), 158 (5), 190 (6), 200 (7)
01_GB_Bateman
GB
31
Packers_table
WR Rashod Bateman
Minnesota

Green Bay Packers: How could the Packers pass on getting Aaron Rodgers more weapons? Oh wait, never mind. Rashod Bateman is big, fast and one of the best receiver prospects in this class. He had an extremely productive career at Minnesota.

  • Current picks (round): 31 (1), 63 (2), 95 (3), 127 (4), 159 (5), 191 (6), 223 (7)
01_KC_Davis
KC
32
Chiefs_table
OL Wyatt Davis
Ohio State

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs could use some help up front, especially on the interior, and Ohio State standout Wyatt Davis is tough as nails, smart, powerful and agile. He could solidify that front for years to come, and that will make him tempting here.

  • Current picks (round): 32 (1), 64 (2), 96 (3), 128 (4), 160 (5), 224 (7)

2021 NFL Draft order

  • A note on the draft order: The non-playoff teams are picks 1-18 (the team with the worst record, Jacksonville, picks first overall). The rest will be determined as the playoffs unfold. Teams that will be eliminated in the wild-card round get picks 19-24. Teams that will be eliminated in the divisional round get picks 25-28. The two teams eliminated in the AFC and NFC title games get picks 29 and 30. The Super Bowl loser will pick at 31 and the winner picks last. The current order is based on records, strength of schedule and seeding (via Tankathon).

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 it is noted otherwise.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan #2 against the New Orleans Saints on December 6, 2020.

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