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Tabeek's Final Mock Draft: Falcons trade down, land 'generational' player and best all-around defender

By Matthew Tabeek

Here it is, my final mock draft (but word is, more will be coming here in the near future).

The NFL Draft is still 41 days from today and we are still in the thick of free agency. A lot can and will happen between now and then. Since this is my last day with the Atlanta Falcons, I'm just doing what I always do every week here – making an educated guess with these picks based on recent moves, headlines and rumors.


The Falcons made some news this past week and restructured Matt Ryan's deal to get in compliance with the salary cap. It's a significant move on a number of fronts, especially on how it will impact the team's cap for at least the three seasons.

It also sends a signal that the Falcons believe they can win with Ryan right now, and there's a good chance that build accordingly in the coming weeks and months – including the draft in April.

So, without further ado, here is my final mock draft, 10.0, with the updated draft order (see order explanation at the bottom of the page).

QB Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars: I had only one scenario where the Jaguars did not Trevor Lawrence – and that was only because I had them landing Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade with the Texans. In other words, there's little to no chance the Jags give up the No. 1 pick and don't land Lawrence. He's the best QB prospect to come out in several years. This one is a slam dunk.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
QB Zach Wilson

New York Jets: The Jets could roll with Sam Darnold, keep him on the roster and make him compete for the starting job or they could trade him to a QB-needy team. The question here is, does New York stay put at No. 2 and draft a quarterback who could potentially beat out Darnold for the job and be the guy for years to come or does it trade down and acquire more picks? I think the Jets will take Zach Wilson and he'll be that guy.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB
WR Ja'Marr Chase

Miami Dolphins (via Houston): The Dolphins have been fairly active in free agency and have made some notable moves. They bolstered the offensive line some, signing tackle Daryl Williams to a three-year deal and agreed to terms with guard Jon Feliciano. They also gave receiver Will Fuller a one-year deal worth more than $10 million. Still, I don't think Miami will pass up the opportunity to draft the best receiver in this class, and that's exactly what they'll do here at No. 3, taking Ja'Marr Chase out of LSU.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
QB Justin Fields
Ohio State


  • Eagles receive: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)
  • Falcons receive: No. 6 overall (2021), No. 37 overall (2021), first-round pick (2022), fifth-round pick (2022)

Philadelphia Eagles: According to my good friend and NFL insider Jason La Canfora, there's something cooking in Philly when it comes to the quarterback position. In fact, La Canfora says that the Eagles could make a move to acquire Deshaun Watson. While that seems unlikely (for now), it's totally conceivable that they could trade up a couple of spots in the draft and be in prime position to land one of the top quarterbacks in this class. And that's what they do here, trading with the Falcons and taking Justin Fields out of Ohio State.

  • Needs: OL, CB, WR, LB
OT Penei Sewell

Cincinnati Bengals: Could the Bengals pass on taking one of the top offensive linemen in this class? Sure, but it wouldn't make much sense at all. They must do a better job at protecting their new franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, who appears to have a very bright future in this league. Cincinnati has been fairly active in free agency thus far, but they haven't addressed the offensive line yet. They will with the No. 5 pick, and I believe they'll take Penei Sewell out of Oregon.

  • Needs: OL, DE, CB
TE Kyle Pitts


  • Falcons receive: No. 6 overall (2021), No. 37 overall (2021), first-round pick (2022), fifth-round pick (2022)
  • Eagles receive: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)

Atlanta Falcons: In case you've missed it, the Falcons have made it clear that they are rolling with Matt Ryan for at least the next two to three seasons. Atlanta needed to create space to get under the salary cap and the decision to restructure Ryan's deal a fourth time and spread it over the next three seasons might have been their best (and only option). It's also clear that the Falcons believe they can win with Ryan – and I think they'll use this draft to build around the core of this team. A trade here with the Eagles allows Atlanta to still land a “generational talent” in Kyle Pitts and acquire picks to possibly move back up into the first to select another impact player. Imagine the 6-foot-6 Pitts – a touchdown scoring machine at Florida – in Arthur Smith's offense with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst. Remember, 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 a96.1 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: DE, CB, OL, QB
  • Current picks (round): 4 (1), 35 (2), 68 (3),108 (4), 148 (5), 179 (5), 182 (5), 186 (6), 217 (6)
WR DeVonta Smith

Detroit Lions: The Lions knew Matthew Stafford needed a change of scenery, and they made it happen and still acquired a franchise quarterback in Jared Goff. I liked the move, all things considered. But one of the issues with Stafford in Detroit was that he never seemed to have enough weapons around him. The Lions have added a running back, tight end and a pair of receivers so far in free agency, but at No. 7 they have a chance to add a game-breaker in Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith – and that's exactly what they do in this scenario.

  • Needs: WR, EDGE, LB
QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State

Carolina Panthers: One of the teams rumored to be in the Deshaun Watson derby has been the Panthers. In recent weeks they've cleared a ton of salary cap space, too. They've also spent a good chunk of it in free agency bolstering that defense and the offensive line. Regardless if they pull off a blockbuster trade or not, I think the Panthers will acquire a quarterback at some point. If things play out like this – with Trey Lance and Mac Jones still on the board – I think they'll pounce on Lance and let Joe Brady het his hands on him for a year or so before turning him loose.

  • Needs: QB, OL, LB, TE
CB Patrick Surtain II

Denver Broncos: The Broncos have already signed cornerback Ronald Darby and safety Justin Simmons in free agency. But I don't think they're done yet adding pieces to the back end of that defense. With the two best corners in this class still on the board in this scenario, I can see Denver snatching Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama, long considered to be the best one in this class.

  • Needs: CB, DE, QB, OL
CB Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech

Dallas Cowboys: It's no secret that the Cowboys are focused on improving their defense. It's a big reason why they moved on from Mike Nolan and hired former Falcons coach Dan Quinn to be their next defensive coordinator, too. With Surtain off the board, I think Dallas is more than thrilled to see Caleb Farley sitting there at No. 10. While Surtain may be considered to be more polished, Farley has more upside and could potentially develop into an even better pro. He's tall, fast and instinctive – and he'll upgrade that Cowboys secondary.

  • Needs: CB, OL, LB, TE
OL Rashawn Slater

New York Giants: The Giants have signed a pair of defensive ends in free agency and all of their other additions have come on offense – a backup quarterback, running back, receiver and a tight end. New York, however, must get better in the trenches and with one of the top offensive linemen sitting there at No. 11, Big Blue jumps on Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern in this scenario. He'll upgrade that line, help keep Daniel Jones upright and help in the running game, which is a positive considering they have Saquon Barkley coming back from injury.

  • Needs: EDGE, OL, CB, WR
QB Mac Jones

San Francisco 49ers: Speaking of bolstering the offensive line, the 49ers have made some huge moves in free agency. They gave tackle Trent Williams a record deal and signed former Falcons center Alex Mack to a deal as well. Still, there are still lingering questions about Jimmy Garoppolo and whether he is the long-term answer behind center. I think Kyle Shanahan urges them to pull the trigger here for Mac Jones, who put up Joe Burrow-like numbers last year at Alabama. Some say he's better than Tua Tagovailoa, while others have compared him to Matt Ryan – only more athletic. Regardless, it's a marriage that I think makes a ton of sense in this scenario.

  • Needs: CB, OL, QB, DL
OT Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech

Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers definitely hit on quarterback Justin Herbert, the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Even crazier is the fact that Herbert became the first Chargers player to win the award since Don Woods did in 1974. It's pretty clear that the Chargers must build around Herbert. They must protect him better and give him more weapons to operate with, too. I think Christian Darrisaw out of Virginia Tech makes a ton of sense here. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Darrisaw 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.

DL Christian Barmore

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings must get better along that defensive line and taking Christian Barmore out of Alabama is an easy choice in this scenario. 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
WR Jaylen Waddle

New England Patriots: It's pretty clear that the Patriots missed Tom Brady in 2020. But the play at quarterback was not the only issue with the Patriots. While they have been extremely active thus far in free agency, New England could use some even more receivers in that offense, regardless of who is behind center in 2021 (and that appears to be Cam Newton, for now). Something tells me the Patriots could still address quarterback via a trade or if things fall just right, maybe a draft-day trade. Either way, taking Jaylen Waddle here at No. 15 would make that offense a lot better. His production at Alabama (prior to his injury) speaks for itself and he's also a threat in the return game.

  • Needs: QB, DL, WR
CB Jaycee Horn
South Carolina

Arizona Cardinals: I see the Cardinals going defense here. They have added J.J. Watt and re-signed Robert Alford, but they still 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
EDGE Kwity Paye

Las Vegas Raiders: I like what the Raiders have done in free agency, especially on defense. They've added defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and three defensive linemen – (re-signed) Jonathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas. Still, I think can add one of the better edge rushers in this class in Kwity Paye, and it would not surprise me at all if he 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
LB/EDGE Micah Parsons
Penn State


  • Falcons receive: No. 18 overall (2021), No. 50 (2021)
  • Dolphins receive: No. 35 (2021), No. 37 (2021), No. 186 (2021)

Atlanta Falcons: No one remembers your needs when they look back at your draft picks on any given year, but they do remember the players you passed up. Remember that. The Falcons can simply trade down and accumulate lots of picks – and players – or they can get creative and land game-changing talents. With the additional firepower gained from trading down a couple of spots and landing Kyle Pitts, the Falcons make a deal here with the Dolphins to land the No. 18 pick – and the best all-around defender in this class, Micah Parsons out of Penn State. This is the third mock draft I have Atlanta landing Parsons. I think he's a perfect fit for Dean Pees's defense. We all know the Falcons must improve on defense and Parsons is a game-changing defender who can rush the passer, stuff the run and is effective in pass coverage. My favorite profile on Parsons described him as an "explosive freakazoid of an athlete." Yes, please.

  • Needs: DE, CB, OL, QB
  • Current picks (round): 4 (1), 35 (2), 68 (3),108 (4), 148 (5), 179 (5), 182 (5), 186 (6), 217 (6)
IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker

Washington Football Team: The WFT put the franchise tag on guard Brandon Scherff and signed center Tyler Larsen in free agency, among other moves. But I don't think they stop there. While they still need a quarterback (trade, maybe?), I think Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC makes sense here again in this scenario. Vera-Tucker is a competent, nimble blocker who can play guard and tackle.

  • Needs: QB, WR, OL
RB Travis Etienne

Chicago Bears: Surprised? Don't be. While I'm a big fan of Bears running back David Montgomery, I think Travis Etienne is just what this offense needs – a homerun hitter coming out of the backfield. They reportedly tried to land Russell Wilson but couldn't pull it off. Etienne can catch the ball well, too, coming out of the backfield but he has something Najee Harris does not: Top-end speed.

  • Needs: QB, OL, WR
EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have been quiet in free agency so far. I still think they'll look to improve that defense through the draft, with cornerback and edge rusher being the primary focus. They say you can never have enough good pass rushers – and they are hard to find and develop, too. There are some decent ones in this class who will be on the board in the second half of this first round, including Gregory Rousseau out of Miami. Rousseau is tall, long, smart and knows how to get off blocks in a hurry.

  • Needs: CB, EDGE, WR
WR Kadarius Toney

Tennessee Titans: Well, the Titans have made a splash in free agency, the big move was signing Bud Dupree to five-year deal. Tennessee has also added a defensive end, a pair of linebackers and two cornerbacks during its shopping spree as well. So now I'm looking to go offense with this pick. The Titans could use a little electricity to its passing game and that's exactly what Kadarius Toney out of Florida brings. Toney – who is insanely good at running routes, has yards-after-catch ability and has been described as an "electrifying" receiver. 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: EDGE, WR, OL, CB
EDGE Azeez Ojulari

New York Jets (via Seattle): The Jets signed defensive end Carl Lawson to three-year deal in free agency, but I don't think they're done. I 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.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB, WR
RB Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers: The more I think about Najee Harris in a Steelers uniform and in that offense, the more I like it. As I have noted for weeks in these mock drafts, the Steelers have their starting left tackle, top running back, leading receiver and No. 2 pass rusher ticketed for the open market in 2021. Well, they re-signed tackle Zach Banner and cornerback Cameron Sutton. For now, the Steelers take Harris here, the talented and bruising back out of Alabama. While his size is comparable to Derrick Henry, Harris is a very good pass catcher, too, and that's what separates him from a lot of backs his size.

  • Needs: QB, OL, RB, EDGE
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame

Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): Speaking of spending sprees in free agency … holy cow, Jacksonville. The Jaguars, at last count, have signed 15 players, including nine on defense. But you know what area they haven't hit (and where they could better in the draft)? Linebacker. And if 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: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
EDGE Jaelan Phillips

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have made a handful of moves in free agency and agreed to terms with defensive end Takk McKinley. However, with some good edge rushers still on the board in this scenario, I like Jaelan Phillips here. The big question with Miami's Jaelan Phillips is his health. As noted in PFF, UCLA forced him to medically retire already because of concussions. At Miami, he overcame the concussion issues and had somewhat of a breakout season, tallying eight sacks. At 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds, Phillips certainly looks – and plays – the part when healthy. He had an 83.0 run-defense grade and an 86.7 pass-rushing grade this past season at Miami. I can see the Browns taking a chance on him here, especially if he checks out medically.

  • Needs: S, LB, CB, DL
S Trevon Moehrig

Baltimore Ravens: I am sticking with this pick. 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
DL Daviyon Nixon

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have had to make some tough decisions this offseason, and this pick makes sense for them here. 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.

  • Needs: QB, DL, CB, WR
LB Nick Bolton

Green Bay Packers: The Packers could use more help at linebacker and I can't pass on the idea of adding linebacker Nick Bolton to that unit. Bolton doesn't have imposing size, but he flies to the ball and knows how to deliver the big hit. He plays with great speed and processes things quickly, and I like that pick here at the end of the first round.

  • Needs: LB, DL, CB, OL
EDGE Jayson Oweh
Penn State

Buffalo Bills: This is another pick I am sticking with for my final mock draft. 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
LB/EDGE Zaven Collins

Kansas City Chiefs: Well, the Chiefs have certainly addressed the offensive line in recent days. So, I'm going to look at the other side of the ball here and go with Zaven Collins. I love his versatility. 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 No. 31 is nice value.

  • Needs: OL, EDGE, LB, WR
WR Rashod Bateman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have simply been taking care of business this offseason and trying to keep the band together for another run at a Lombardi Trophy. I think they go best player available here and I really like the idea of adding Rashod Bateman to that group of Bucs receivers. All he does is get open. He's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, physical and is excellent in getting off the line of scrimmage.

  • Needs: LB, DL, EDGE, WR

Teams without a first-round pick

As it stands right now, three teams do not have a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft: the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Their team needs, actual draft picks (and rounds) are listed below:

Houston Texans
Needs: WR, CB, DE

Current picks (round): 67 (3), 109 (4), 112 (4), 147 (5), 187 (6), 200 (6), 210 (6), 229 (7)

Los Angeles Rams
Needs: OL, DE, LB

Current picks (round): 57 (2), 101 (3), 103 (3), 141 (4), 207 (6), 251 (7)

Seattle Seahawks
Needs: OL, CB, DE

Current picks (round): 56 (2), 129 (4), 167 (5), 206 (6), 249 (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).
  • 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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