Now we have entered April it seems all thoughts in the NFL have turned from free agency to the draft. In the 2018 draft the Atlanta Falcons have a single pick in five out of the seven rounds. The exceptions are round five where they have no pick and round seven where they pick twice. To kick off the preview of the Atlanta Falcons draft I thought I would focus, logically, on the first round. Previously, I discussed how Atlanta has fared this offseason so far and looked at their remaining needs entering the draft. With minimal desperate needs and seven picks the Falcons have a lot of options available to them on Day one. You could make the case for them staying at pick 26 or trading either up or down. Let’s take a look at the potential reasons why they may consider any of the above.
The main need on this roster is defensive tackle and at pick 26 there figures to be plenty of options available. You can see from the Falcons own website that a number of mock drafts have them taking a defensive tackle but there are three different names mentioned. In the latest Full Press Coverage mock draft I took Taven Bryan for the Falcons. If it looks as though one of the first round talents will be there at 26 there is no reason for them to move up. Equally if they decide they do not want to go defensive tackle with this pick then they have enough talent on their roster that they do not need to trade up in order to target a need. They may decide to use the luxury of taking the best player available on their board at that point.
There are two scenarios as to why the Atlanta Falcons may decide to trade up. The first is if defensive tackles start coming off the board earlier than expected. In this case if the Falcons do not want to risk losing one of those first round talents they may have to make a trade and jump up a couple of spots. The second scenario is if the Falcons fall in love with a particular player who falls. Let’s say for example a talent like Bradley Chubb slides in the quarterback melee. Then the Falcons would have to consider making a move to secure such a talented player. The second scenario is more unlikely but not impossible.
If the Falcons were going to move from pick 26 my bet would be they move down rather than up. Again there are two main scenarios as to why they might move down. Firstly, if defensive tackles slide down the draft they could move back and still get one of their targets. They likely wouldn’t move far in this scenario but could add a late round draft pick and get their guy. The second scenario would need a couple of things to happen. They would need to not be “in love” with any of the defensive tackles left. They would probably also need a quarterback hungry team to be looking to move up. In the NFLUKMock currently taking place this is exactly what happened. The Buffalo Bills moved up to select Mason Rudolph and the Atlanta Falcons got their defensive tackle at pick 45.
Of course with all of the trade action we are seeing in the NFL this offseason this could all change in a heartbeat. However, as it stands my prediction would either be a defensive tackle at pick 26 or a move down 10 or so spots where they likely still take a defensive tackle but gain draft capital at the same time.