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Tabeek's 2021 NFL Mock Draft 9.0: Falcons make a pair of trades, land Alabama duo in first round

By Matthew Tabeek

The Falcons hold the No. 4 pick, have nine draft picks, have very little room under the salary cap and have tough decisions to make about the futures of some of their highest-paid players.

They also need to get better, as in add more talent to the roster. After making a Super Bowl run in 2016 and falling in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champs in 2017, Atlanta has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons.

The best way to build is through the draft. It's not about drafting more players; it's about drafting talented players.

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As someone recently pointed out to me, no one remembers a team's needs, but they always remember when a team passes on top talent in the draft.

It's about taking the best players. It's not about taking lots of players.

So, without further ado, here is mock draft 9.0 with the updated draft order (see order explanation at the bottom of the page).



1
Jaguars_table
QB Trevor Lawrence
Clemson

Jacksonville Jaguars: No need to get cute here. Go get the franchise quarterback. While the Jags need to address a lot of positions, quarterback is at the top of the list. The decision here is a no-brainer: Trevor Lawrence, who is considered to be the best quarterback prospect coming out since Andrew Luck. He checks all of the boxes for new coach Urban Meyer.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
  • Previous: QB Trevor Lawrence


2
Jets_table
QB Zach Wilson
BYU

New York Jets: The Jets could go in a number of directions here, but the new coaching staff will turn the page on Sam Darnold and take Zach Wilson here. Wilson is sneaky fast, slippery in the open field, processes things quickly, is accurate and makes good decisions. I've made it clear who he reminds me of. He's just too good to pass up.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB
  • Previous: QB Zach Wilson
3
Dolphins_table
WR Ja'Marr Chase
LSU

Miami Dolphins (via Houston): Forget the rumors about the Dolphins moving on from Tua Tagovailoa. While they could trade down, I think they'll stay put and give Tagovailoa some and take the best receiver in this class. Chase put up better numbers than Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and DeVonta Smith in 2019.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
  • Previous: TE Kyle Pitts


4
Broncos_table
QB Justin Fields
Ohio State

TRADE

  • Broncos get: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)
  • Falcons get: No. 9 overall (2021), No. 40 overall (2021), No. 71 (2021), fourth-round pick (2022), fifth-round pick (2022)

Denver Broncos: Here we go, the first big move on Day 1. It's clear the Broncos aren't sure what they have in Drew Lock and I think newly minted general manager George Paton will take advantage of their top 10 pick and go all in on a quarterback. They make the trade with the Falcons and pounce on Justin Fields. Draft expert Matt Miller said of Fields recently: "He is the strongest arm, most athletic quarterback in this class. 6-3, 228 pounds. When I look at him, I see a more mobile Dak Prescott." That's got to be music to Paton's ears.

  • Needs: CB, DE, QB, OL
  • Previous: CB Caleb Farley


5
Bengals_table
OT Penei Sewell
Oregon

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals nailed it last April when they drafted Joe Burrow. The former LSU star made an immediate impact and is clearly their franchise quarterback of the future. But they also learned the hard way that they need to protect their investment. This scenario works out nicely for the Bengals, who take Penei Sewell, hands down the best overall offensive line prospect in this class.

  • Needs: OL, DE, CB
  • Previous: OT Penei Sewell
6
Eagles_table
TE Kyle Pitts
Florida

Philadelphia Eagles: I think the Eagles are all in on Jalen Hurts and they'll start giving him some weapons. Don't be too surprised with this pick: Kyle Pitts is not your average tight end. He's more in the mold of a Travis Kelce or George Kittle – and any team would like an option like that. Pitts earned a 96.1 PFF receiving grade and posted 10 catches on targets 20-plus yards downfield last year. That's only five behind DeVonta Smith on 11 less targets.

  • Needs: OL, CB, WR, LB
  • Previous: WR Ja'Marr Chase


7
Lions_table
WR DeVonta Smith
Alabama

Detroit Lions: Speaking of DeVonta Smith ... The Lions pulled off the trade for Jared Goff and now they need to give him a chance to succeed by drafting Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner. Smith has great hands (five drops on 189 catchable the past two seasons), is a dangerous route-runner at every level with deceptive run-away speed and great vision. The writers at PFF describe his game as "effortless." Smith tallied more than 3,000 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns over the past two years.

  • Needs: WR, EDGE, LB
  • Previous: WR DeVonta Smith


8
Panthers_table
QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State

Carolina Panthers: If the Panthers don't somehow land Deshaun Watson and can't pull off a trade with the Jets for the No. 2 pick, I think they'll stay put and still land one of the most exciting (and intriguing) prospects in this class: Trey Lance. Lance is big, athletic, has a cannon for an arm and can tuck it and run. He is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback.

  • Needs: QB, OL, LB, TE
  • Previous: QB Mac Jones
9
Falcons_Table
CB Patrick Surtain II
Alabama

TRADE

  • Falcons get: No. 9 overall (2021), No. 40 overall (2021), No. 71 (2021), fourth-round pick (2022), fifth-round pick (2022)
  • Broncos get: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons trade back, land the top cornerback in this class and also pick up a second- and third-round pick this year (which will come in handy several picks later). By the time training camp rolls around, the back end of the Falcons defense will look very different – and for good reason. Atlanta surrendered a lot of big plays (only the Lions allowed more total completions of 15-plus yards) and needs to inject more talent to go along with A.J. Terrell, a budding star. The Falcons add Patrick Surtain II, who many scouts and draft analysts consider the top cornerback prospect in this class. Pairing Surtain and Terrell together would go a long way in turning that defense around under Dean Pees and his "multiple but simple" defensive philosophy.

  • Needs: DE, CB, OL, QB
  • Previous: QB Justin Fields


10
Cowboys_table
CB Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys know they must address their secondary. As Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus notes in his evaluation, Caleb Farley has size, speed, length, and the instincts you're looking for in a corner. On top of all of that, Farley reportedly runs in the 4.3 range, and it shows up on tape, too. He'll provide an immediate upgrade for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Big D.

  • Needs: CB, OL, LB, TE
  • Previous: LB Micah Parsons


11
Giants_table
WR Jaylen Waddle
Alabama

New York Giants: The Giants competed well under first-year coach Joe Judge, but one area in which Big Blue must address is receiver – and getting Daniel Jones some help. Defense could very well be an option here, too, but with Jaylen Waddle sitting there, the Giants put his name on the card. Waddle is an explosive receiver who will stretch the field and demand extra attention. He should also help take the load off Jones as well as Saquon Barkley, who is expected to make a healthy return from a season-ending knee injury.

  • Needs: EDGE, OL, CB, WR
  • Previous: CB Patrick Surtain II
12
49ers_table
QB Mac Jones
Alabama

San Francisco 49ers: It's no secret that the 49ers are considering making changes at quarterback and in this scenario, they stay put at No. 12 and still land one of the top-five quarterback prospects in this class. Jones is sneaky athletic, is smart in the pocket and throws one of the prettiest deep balls you'll see. In fact, he is the most accurate passer in this class, aside from Trevor Lawrence. Something tells me Kyle Shanahan would love it if things played out like this. 

  • Needs: CB, OL, QB, DL
  • Previous: QB Trey Lance


13
Chargers_table
OT Rashawn Slater
Northwestern

Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers hit on last year's pick – Justin Herbert, who ended up being the Rookie of the Year. Now they've got to do a better job of protecting him. That's why they'll pounce on Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern. As Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes, Slater is "stout and power-packed and doesn't allow rushers to go through him. Slater is Matt Miller No. 7 player (overall) and describes him as "quick, smart, poised and athletic."

  • Needs: OL, TE, CB, DL
  • Previous: OT Rashawn Slater


14
Vikings_table
DL Christian Barmore
Alabama

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings must get better along that defensive line and taking Christian Barmore out of Alabama is an easy choice. Barmore is considered by some draft analysts to be the best defensive tackle prospect in this class. Barmore, who earned a 91.5 PFF pass-rush grade in 2020, is disruptive, excels as a pass rusher, has ideal length and foot speed. In short, he knows how to get to the quarterback.

  • Needs: OL, DL, EDGE
  • Previous: DL Christian Barmore
15
Falcons_Table
RB Najee Harris
Alabama

TRADE

  • Falcons gets: No. 15 (2021), No. 46 (2021)
  • Patriots get: No. 35 (2021), No. 40 (2021), No. 71 (2021)

Atlanta Falcons: With the top quarterbacks and elite receivers off the board, the Patriots are open for business – and open to picking up a pair of second-round picks and a third-round pick from the Falcons. Arthur Smith is also thrilled because now he can insert Najee Harris into the Falcons offense and use him in the same way he did with Derrick Henry in Tennessee. Harris is very comparable to Henry. He's a very good pass catcher, too, and that's what separates him from a lot of backs his size.

  • Needs: DE, CB, OL, QB


16
Cardinals_Table
CB Jaycee Horn
South Carolina

Arizona Cardinals: The way things are playing out here again, I see the Cardinals going defense. They have added J.J. Watt, but they also need a cornerback. With Jaycee Horn available, they take the the former Gamecock standout. Horn is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, has nice length, great ball skills and isn't afraid to be aggressive at times. He oftentimes was matched up against SEC team's top receivers and more than held his own. As PFF notes, Horn has the third-lowest projected adjusted completion percentage allowed in this class.

  • Needs: CB, DL, WR, TE
  • Previous: CB Jaycee Horn


17
Raiders_table
EDGE Kwity Paye
Michigan

Las Vegas Raiders: There are some decent edge rushers in this class, and I believe they'll start to come off the board in the second half of the first round. And it would not surprise me at all if Kwity Paye is the first one to go. In this scenario, it works out well for the Raiders. The former Wolverine has a non-stop motor, relentless energy and has a nose for finding the backfield and wreaking havoc back there – just what the Raiders (and any team) could use.

  • Needs: DT, OL, EDGE, S
  • Previous: EDGE Kwity Paye
18
Dolphins_table
WR Rashod Bateman
Minnesota

Miami Dolphins: Another receiver? Yes! When it comes to the best receivers in this class, don't sleep on Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota. I can guarantee you NFL scouts are not. Bateman might not be as quick and as explosive, but all he does is get open – and that matters. He's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, physical and is excellent in getting off the line of scrimmage. Miami comes out of Day 1 with a completely revamped receiving corps.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
  • Previous: WR Kadarius Toney


19
Washington_table
IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker
USC

Washington Football Team: The WFT has made it clear that it plans to address the quarterback position this offseason. They've reportedly moved on from Alex Smith, the Comeback Player of the Year. For now, and in this draft-day scenario, they must also address the offensive line – regardless of who ultimately ends up starting behind center in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season. I think former USC stud Alijah Vera-Tucker makes sense here. Vera-Tucker is a competent, nimble blocker who can play guard and tackle.

  • Needs: QB, WR, OL
  • Previous: IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker


20
Bears_table
OT Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech

Chicago Bears: Everything might (still) be on the table when it comes to the quarterback situation in Chicago, but the Bears are another team that must improve in the trenches. I really like Christian Darrisaw here. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder out of Virginia Tech has an ideal frame to go along with long arms, quick feet and strong hands. He's one of the best prospects when it comes to squaring up and getting in position (or re-positioning) to handle pass rushers.

  • Needs: QB, OL, WR
  • Previous: OT Christian Darrisaw
21
Colts_table
WR Rondale Moore
Purdue

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts made the big move to land Carson Wentz. Now it's time to add that offensive arsenal, and Rondale Moore is the pick here. The former Purdue Boilermaker is dangerous in the open field. As the writers as PFF note, Moore is not only a rare talent in terms of movement skills, but he's also very strong for his size. Coming out of high school the then 174-pound receiver could squat 600 pounds.

  • Needs: CB, EDGE, WR
  • Previous: WR Rondale Moore


22
Titans_table
LB/EDGE Micah Parsons
Penn State

Tennessee Titans: Oh man, is Mike Vrabel thrilled with this scenario. Definitely defense here, and they take the best all-around defender in Micah Parsons. 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). I'm convinced they'll go defense at 22 and address that pass rush. ESPN's Todd McShay called Parsons 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."

  • Needs: EDGE, WR, OL, CB
  • Previous: EDGE Gregory Rousseau


23
Jets_table
WR Kadarius Toney
Florida

New York Jets (via Seattle): With Zach Wilson in place, the Jets know they need to get the former BYU star some reliable weapons in the passing game. Last week's pick, Rashod Bateman, is off the board. Florida's Kadarius Toney – who is insanely good at running routes, has yards-after-catch ability and has been described as an "electrifying" receiver – is the pick. He has kick returning skills, too. He was also reliable when targeted at Florida – he had only three drops on 123 catchable passes in his career as a Gator. 

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB, WR
  • Previous: WR Rashod Bateman
24
Steelers_table
RB Travis Etienne
Clemson

Pittsburgh Steelers: I had Najee Harris going here to the Steelers a week ago, but he's off the board. The idea of Harris, a power back with great hands, makes a lot of sense to me. But I think that offensive could use even more firepower coming out of the backfield – and Travis Etienne can catch the ball well, too, coming out of the backfield but he has something Harris does not: home-run speed. The Steelers have their starting left tackle, top running back, leading receiver and No. 2 pass rusher ticketed for the open market in 2021, and Etienne is the pick here.

  • Needs: QB, OL, RB, EDGE
  • Previous: RB Najee Harris


25
Jaguars_table
EDGE Azeez Ojulari
Georgia

Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): The Jaguars got their man in Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, but they have many more areas to address, including the defensive side of the ball. I really like Azeez Ojulari here. The 240-pound former Georgia Bulldog has a great burst and knows how to get around the corner to the passer. According to PFF, Ojulari won 25 percent of his pass-rush snaps. That's good.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
  • Previous: EDGE Azeez Ojulari


26
Browns_table
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame

Cleveland Browns: The Browns must take a hard look at the back end of their defense this offseason, including cornerback, safety and linebacker. With Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa still on the board, this is an easy pick. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Owusu-Koramoah can run and hit – he has great range and when he shows up, he drops the hammer. That kind of versatility is valued by defensive coordinators around the league.

  • Needs: S, LB, CB, DL
  • Previous: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
27
Ravens_table
S Trevon Moehrig
TCU

Baltimore Ravens: Safety is an area of need for the Ravens, and while this is not a class loaded with Day 1 talent at that position, Trevon Moehrig is the best safety in the class. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Moehrig led all safeties in pass breakups in each of the last two seasons at TCU. As Matt Miller notes, Moehrig can play the catch point from behind a receiver with ease.

  • Needs: WR, OL, EDGE, S
  • Previous: S Trevon Moehrig


28
Saints_table
CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Florida State

New Orleans Saints: I can see the Saints going defense here with their first pick and addressing the back end of their defense. I really like Asante Samuel Jr. out of Florida State. Samuel is a 5-foot-10 corner who is fast, twitchy, has good instincts and a high ceiling. At Florida State he broke up 29 passes and made four interceptions in three seasons.

  • Needs: QB, DL, CB, WR
  • Previous: CB Asante Samuel Jr.


29
Packers_table
LB/EDGE Zaven Collins
Tulsa

Green Bay Packers: I expect Green Bay to address the defense, which sustained a number of injuries, but also struggled at times. I like Zaven Collins here; he won the Bronko Nagurksi for the best defensive player in college football and was also a runner up for the Butkus Award. As Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes about Collins, he has "the size of a defensive end and the athleticism of a safety." Adding a player like Collins in this spot at 29 is nice value.

  • Needs: LB, DL, CB, OL
  • Previous: LB/EDGE Zaven Collins
30
Bills_table
EDGE Jayson Oweh
Penn State

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback will be a position of need for the Bills, but you can never have enough good pass rushers, either. Jayson Oweh, a 6-foot-5, 252-pounds edge rusher out of Penn State, has been described as a freak. Oweh, who didn't notch a single sack last season at Penn State (which is odd), has tremendous size, athleticism, can get into the backfield and has a lot of upside.

  • Needs: CB, OL, DL, EDGE
  • Previous: EDGE Jayson Oweh


31
Chiefs_table
OT Jalen Mayfield
Michigan

Kansas City Chiefs: And just like that, the Chiefs have parted ways with Austin Reiter, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. I like Jalen Mayfield out of Michigan here. Mayfield, at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, can play both guard and tackle (although he's probably better suited inside) and a nice run blocker. After watching the Super Bowl, that's just what the Chiefs could use.

  • Needs: OL, EDGE, LB, WR
  • Previous: OT Jalen Mayfield


32
Bucs_table
EDGE Gregory Rousseau
Miami

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs could end up losing some guys on defense, and the way things play out here, they land one of the best pass rushers in this class. Gregory Rousseau is tall, long, smart and knows how to get off blocks in a hurry. He'll help the defending champs' pass rush get even better.

  • Needs: LB, DL, EDGE, WR
  • Previous: EDGE Jaelan Phillips


Round 2

The Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks are currently the only teams without a first-round pick.

33
Jaguars_table
OT Dillon Radunz
North Dakota State
34
Jets_table
EDGE Jaelan Phillips
Miami
35
Patriots_table
QB Kyle Trask
Florida

TRADE

  • Patriots get: No. 35 (2021), No. 40 (2021), No. 71 (2021)
  • Falcons gets: No. 15 (2021), No. 46 (2021)
36
Dolphins_table
LB Nick Bolton
Missouri
37
Eagles_table
IOL Wyatt Davis
Ohio State
38
Bengals_table
TE Pat Freiermuth
Penn State
39
Panthers_table
OT Alex Leatherwood
Alabama
40
Patriots_table
WR Terrace Marshall
LSU

TRADE

  • Patriots get: No. 35 (2021), No. 40 (2021), No. 71 (2021)
  • Falcons gets: No. 15 (2021), No. 46 (2021)
41
Lions_table
DL Alim McNeil
NC State
42
Giants_table
LB Jabril Cox
LSU
43
49ers_table
OL Landon Dickerson
Alabama
44
Cowboys_table
OT Samuel Cosmi
Texas
45
Jaguars_table
CB Tyson Campbell
Georgia
46
Falcons_Table
EDGE Joseph Ossai
Texas

TRADE

  • Falcons gets: No. 15 (2021), No. 46 (2021)
  • Patriots get: No. 35 (2021), No. 40 (2021), No. 71 (2021)
47
Chargers_table
CB Kelvin Joseph
Kentucky
48
Raiders_table
DL Daviyon Nixon
Iowa
49
Cardinals_Table
DL Levi Onwuzurike
Washington
50
Dolphins_table
OL James Hudson
Cincinnati
51
Washington_table
WR Elijah Moore
Mississippi
52
Bears_table
WR Tutu Atwell
Louisville
53
Colts_table
CB Aaron Robinson
Central Florida
54
Titans_table
EDGE Joe Tryon
Washington
55
Seahawks_table
RB Javonte Williams
North Carolina
56
Steelers_table
OT Teven Jenkins
Oklahoma State
57
Rams_table
OL Liam Eichenberg
Notre Dame
58
Browns_table
S Jevon Holland
Oregon
59
Ravens_table
DL Marlon Tuipulotu
USC
60
Saints_table
EDGE Patrick Jones II
Pittsburgh
61
Packers_table
CB Eric Stokes
Georgia
62
Bills_table
LB Jamin Davis
Kentucky
63
Chiefs_table
IOL Deonte Brown
Alabama
64
Bucs_table
RB Michael Carter
North Carolina

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).
  • The Falcons current draft picks: For an in-depth look at how many and where the Falcons pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, standout players previously drafted at those positions and who has been drafted in those same positions over the last five years, click here.

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.

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