One thing is certain and two more things are for sure: if the Atlanta Falcons see a player they want, they’ll move heaven and earth to get him (see Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and recently, Todd Gurley). Secondly, the Falcons are in dire need of a consistent pass rusher, a cornerback, another interior offensive lineman, and a defensive tackle that can star opposite Grady Jarrett.
The Falcons kicked off their offseason by cutting ties with running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Desmond Trufant. Later, linebacker DeVondre Campbell signed with the Arizona Cardinals, Vic Beasley took his talents to the Tennessee Titans and tight end Austin Hooper got paid by the Cleveland Browns. The Falcons replaced Hooper with Hayden Hurst via trade, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens.
Coupled with defensive end Takk McKinley’s inconsistent play, the Falcons went out and got a defensive end, Dante Fowler, from the Los Angeles Rams. Lastly, the Falcons will face Drew Brees and Tom Brady twice, plus the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and their gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. Atlanta needs quality defensive backs that can step in and contribute immediately. Got it? Good. Let’s dive into The Atlanta Voice’s 2020 Falcons mock draft.
(Round One) With the 16th Pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Kristian Fulton, cornerback, LSU.
Fulton would step in right away at cornerback for the Falcons. With his size, range and technique, Fulton has the ability to challenge Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield immediately. Fulton was a Two-year starter who made 38 tackles with one interception and 14 pass breakups as a junior in 2019. In 2018, Fulton made 25 tackles with one interception and nine pass breakups as a sophomore with the Bayou Bengals. If Fulton’s teammates are still around (linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson or defensive end Patrick Queen) and the Falcons are willing to trade up, General Manager Thomas Dimitroff will do so. In short, there will be another football player from LSU poised to join the Falcons.
(Round Two) With the 47th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Lloyd Cushenberry, center, LSU.
Cushenberry is a Second-team All-American, was first-team All-SEC, and led the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line for all 15 games of the Bayou Bengals’ national title run. He keeps great pad level while pass blocking and possesses excellent core strength while blocking in the run game. Last season, quarterback Matt Ryan sacked 50 times and hit more than 100 times. Fully expect Cushenberry to be a backup to Alex Mack at center or push the combination of James Carpenter and Jaron Brown in training camp. Cushenberry will start in 2021, whether or not the coaching staff stashes him for next season will be based on the performances of Carpenter and Brown.
(Round Three) With the 78th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Raekwon Davis, defensive tackle, Alabama.
Davis will arrive in Atlanta weighing in at 311 pounds and is 6’6”. He’s got a great ability to impose his will on interior offensive linemen, lightning-quick hands, plays with excellent pad level that belies his size and can bend well while rushing the quarterback. So, with those traits and the pedigree, why did he fall to the third round? Against LSU on November 9th, Alabama’s biggest game, Davis was a non-factor. Secondly, Davis has gotten by with purely physical traits and has not developed any signature rush moves. And according to scouts, Davis struggled with maturity issues in college. With that said, playing him alongside Grady Jarrett can prove to be one of the steals in the draft.
(Round Four) With the 119th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Malik Harrison, linebacker, Ohio State University.
Malik Harrison had more experienced players ahead of him in Columbus, but he showed he has star power and leadership skills in his senior season. Harrison earned third-team Associated Press All-American honors and first-team All-Big Ten honors as he led the Buckeyes with 75 tackles (16.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks, four pass breakups in 14 starts. As a junior, Harrison had 81 tackles and one interception. For a defense that had trouble tackling (whether it was a poor scheme or lack of talent), Harrison will fit nicely with Deion Jones, Foye Olomukun and Steven Means in the linebacker room.
(Round Seven) With the 228th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select, Terrell Burgess, safety, Utah.
In 2019, Burgess had 81 tackles with one interception and five pass break ups. Burgess is 5’11” and 202 pounds, and in the NFL program, he will add weight. He ran 4.46 in the 40 yard dash, however, on tape, he displayed excellent range, an asset that will lend itself nicely to Dan Quinn’s cover three scheme.