By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on April 23, 2014
With the 2014 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, it's time to compose a seven-round mock draft for the Atlanta Falcons. This mock was conducted via First-pick.com's simulator, so please note this isn't a prediction on my part, but merely myself picking for the Falcons as if I were the GM according to what prospects the simulator deems available in each round. Let's get to the results.
The Falcons ranked 29th in the NFL in sacks in 2013, and are expected to implement more 3-4 base defense looks this coming season. Thus, Buffalo's explosive pass rusher Khalil Mack would be close to a perfect fit in Atlanta. He might be just the elite prospect the Falcons are missing on the defensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a whopping 44 times in 2013. If the Falcons don't select an offensive tackle in Round 1, expect them to strongly consider taking one on Day 2. Virginia's Morgan Moses is one the top pass protectors of the class, and could help keep Ryan clean at left or right tackle.
With Thomas DeCoud's departure, the Falcons will undoubtedly consider nabbing a safety on Day 2 or Day 3. Washington State's Deone Bucannon has been linked to Atlanta as a possible fit. Bucannon is of the athletic, hard-hitting mold, and projects to be a tone-setter for an NFL secondary.
Tony Gonzalez's retirement left a huge void at tight end for the Falcons. They miss out on one of the top four prospects at the position in this mock, but Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz has some intriguing potential as an in-line blocker and as a large receiving target.
Jason Snelling's retirement means the Falcons could draft a running back during the middle rounds. A capable No. 3 option with future starting potential should be the target. Baylor's Lache Seastrunk certainly fits the bill as a possible steal in the fourth round.
The Falcons appear set at receiver with Julio Jones and Roddy White. However, both are entering a contract year in 2014. Picking up a wideout like Pittsburgh's Devin Street on Day 3 would be a wise decision.
Miami's much-maligned tackle prospect Seantrel Henderson is not lacking talent. He has enough of it, and with discipline and hard work, he could emerge as a quality starter in the NFL. However, character concerns and work ethic questions have depleted his stock. Taking a flier on him in the sixth round wouldn't be much of a gamble.
The Falcons don't pick up an instant contributor at cornerback in this mock, but still snag a potential roster-fringe piece with Ole Miss' Charles Sawyer.
Looking for depth, the Falcons add a large defensive tackle in Calvin Barnett with their second to last pick of the draft.
Considering Atlanta's switch to a hybrid scheme that will utilize more 3-4 looks, more linebackers are needed, although Denicos Allen probably wouldn't be much more than a camp body.
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