Atlanta Falcons overhaul defense, find offensive depth in seven-round Sporting News mock draft

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer released a full seven-round, 257-pick mock draft, taking his best shot at forecasting the 2024 NFL Draft. Iyer had a plan for Atlanta that resembles the recent shift in focus for General Manager Terry Fontenot and the front office in Flowery Branch: The attention turns to the defense.

We analyze each pick that Iyer gave to the future of Atlanta and their viability in 2024 and beyond.

Round one, Pick 8 – Dallas Turner, Alabama

The Falcons have been aggressive with their major offensive upgrades, led by signing Kirk Cousins. While that should please new coordinator Zac Robinson, this is a chance to get defensive-minded coach Raheem Morris a cornerstone pass rusher who also makes a lot of plays elsewhere.

Atlanta’s need for a difference-maker rushing the passer is one of the worst-kept secrets in this draft. The need is enough that a double-dip at edge rusher would not be out of the realm of possibility. Before they double-dip, they have to get the first edge rusher, and they choose Alabama’s Dallas Turner to headline this year’s draft class. Turner has elite physical traits that can help him develop to become more than just a great pass rusher. He can become a defensive weapon that Lake can deploy however he sees fit.

Round two, pick 43 – S Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

The Falcons can go defense again for Morris after getting Turner for the edge rush in the first round. The top safety on the board would form a terrific 1-2 punch with star Jessie Bates III.

The time of Richie Grant being that second safety next to Bates ends with the new regime’s arrival. One of the more versatile safeties in this draft hails from the Great Lakes in Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin. Nubin is one of the rangier ball-hawks at the safety position, and in the two-high system that Lake deploys, Nubin and Bates can be an interchangeable duo that can wreak havoc in the defensive backfield.

Round three, pick 74 – DL Michael Hall, Ohio State

The Falcons stay defensive-minded for Raheem Morris, now addressing a key rotational backup piece with natural strength and explosiveness.

The barrage of defensive playmakers continues as the front lines gain another trooper in Ohio State’s Michael Hall. While undersized, Hall has solid strength and surprising agility to get around would-be blockers.

Round three, pick 79 – LB Jeremiah Trotter, Jr., Clemson

The Falcons can keep up the strong defensive haul behind Dallas Turner, Tyler Nubin, and Michael Hall Jr. by addressing another key inside piece to upgrade next to Kaden Elliss.

Atlanta continues adding to the defense as they add another depth piece in Clemson ILB Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. One of the top interior linebackers in this class, Trotter brings more than just a recognizable last name. He brings innate instincts and football intelligence that help him always be in a position to make a play.

Round four, pick 109 – CB Jarrian Jones, Florida State

Florida State’s Jarrian Jones is not afraid to mix it up near the line of scrimmage while showing great closing speed to make a play on the ball when it’s in the air. His versatility to play in the slot and outside will make him a fun chess piece for a defensive coordinator.

Round five, pick 143 – WR Malik Washington, Virginia

Virginia’s Malik Washington plays with incredible instincts and a knack for winning at the catch-point. A slot-first receiver, Washington would be yet another weapon that could work from the inside out.

Round six, pick 187 – RB Kimani Vidal, Troy

Running back isn’t a need in Atlanta. With Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier in the fold, Troy’s Kimani Vidal would be fighting an uphill battle to get on the field. However, the contact balance and ability in pass protection would make him a formidable option.

Round six, pick 197 – QB Joe Milton, Tennessee

At this point in the draft, drafting a quarterback with the athleticism of Tennessee’s Joe Milton would be a steal. Milton’s ability as a quarterback leaves a lot to be desired. Milton’s bazooka of an arm, mixed with his physical gifts, make this a worthwhile investment.

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