Losing the trenches was what largely crippled the Atlanta Falcons. So expect them to fix it in the 2014 NFL draft. Which way will they go first?
Round 1 – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
The pick is going to the trenches one way or another. Here’s one who believes pass rusher is a much higher priority. Anthony Barr is an outside linebacker out of UCLA but he has the frame to bulk up to play defensive end. He’s quick off the snap, strong enough to bull rush but can also beat blockers with speed around the edge.
Round 2 – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
Tony Gonzalez is expected to retire for good after a Hall of Fame career, so the Falcons have to think about bolstering the tight end position early. Getting Austin Seferian-Jenkins would be a huge coup. The Washington stud is a monstrous freak of nature, boast great height and bulk which makes him a solid blocker along with the speed and hands to make big catches.
Round 3 – Gabe Jackson – OG – Mississippi State
Not being able to run the ball really hampered Atlanta most of the season. Returning to that could really open things up, and it will require better blocking from the guard positions. Gabe Jackson is a mammoth road grader with nasty streak out of MississippiState. He uses his size and strength to get after people and holds his own in pass pro.
Round 4 – JaWuan James – OT – Tennessee
The offensive line infusion continues in this 2014 NFL mock draft with the Falcons next looking to the tackle position. JaWuan James is big even by tackle standards but retains an agility and technique that is rare for guys his size. He can handle speed rushers and plays tough and physical when opening lanes for the running backs.
Round 5 – George Uko – DT – USC
The defensive tackle position could look very different for the Atlanta Falcons defense. It may prove important to address it and here they do. George Uko is not a run stuffer due to his limited size but his explosion off the snap and violent hands allow him to squeeze and then collapse pockets around the quarterback.
Round 6 – Justin Britt – OT – Missouri
Injuries are the reason Justin Britt fell to the sixth round, but it’s hard to argue the Missouri tackle doesn’t have upside. He spent time playing both right and left tackle for the Tigers and repeatedly showed the foot quickness, technique and size required to take on the best defenders in the SEC. He’s an excellent depth addition to the O-line.
Round 7 – Tevin Reese – WR – Baylor
Speed is king in the pros and the 2014 NFL mock draft will reflect that for the most part. Tevis Reese only falls to the seventh round because an injury robbed him of a majority portion of the 2013 season. He’s still very raw in his mechanics but the Baylor receiver is an absolute speed demon who will challenge the back ends of a defense. The Atlanta Falcons coaches will find uses for that.