Atlanta Falcons - 2020 NFL Draft
Updated: Mar 26
If you are like us at The Atlanta Sports Podcast, you religiously find yourself at the game or in front of your TV for each and every Falcons game. The length of the season makes every game meaningful and brings hope that when the final seconds tick off we will find our beloved Falcons victorious. The 2019 season did not find us reigning victorious too often...and for many winning towards the end made things even worse. Nevertheless, the season did identify one thing...the Falcons are not as talented as everyone thought. We have holes all over the place on defense and our offensive line is possibly the worst in the NFL. Don't take my word for it, check out what Pro Football Focus had to say about our offensive line HERE. As we quickly approach the draft, we are finding even more holes are opening up. The Atlanta Falcons are strapped for cash and are being forced to let players such as De'Vondre Campbell and Austin Hooper walk. So, how do the Falcons start filling these holes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
For those of you thinking we need to draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds...it isn't going to happen.
Because of our current salary cap restraints, the most obvious place to start is the draft. The Falcons have 7 total picks in the draft, including two in the second round (Patriots 2nd rd pick). Let's take a look at the first three rounds and the holes the Falcons should fill with those picks. For those of you thinking we need to draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds...it isn't going to happen. The Falcons heavily invested in the O-Line last year in the draft with Linstrom and McGary. Plus, they signed Carpenter to a four year deal in free agency. I don't see them investing a pick in the first three rounds in this position group this year. Instead, our first overall pick will be invested on the defensive line, and there are three players the Falcons are targeting:
A. J. Epenesa
I took some heat on our Podcast for recommending the Falcons take Epenesa with the 16th overall pick, but after watching several highlight reels, I think the kid can play. Last year he totaled 11.5 sacks at Iowa, and one of the top offensive lineman in the draft said Epenesa and Young were the two most difficult edge rushers he has ever played against. I know...I know...he was terrible at the combine, but player like Vic and Takk were great at the combine. I am more interested in what they can do in a game than what they can do in spandex. Check out A.J.'s highlights below. What do you think? Should he be our pick?
Many draft boards continue to have Chaisson shoot up their boards. his burst off the edge is impressive. However, at 6'4" and only 250 lbs. I am concerned he is a little light to hold the edge in the NFL. In comparison Epenesa is 280 lbs. Chaisson finished his 2019 campaign with 6.5 sacks, but for most of the seasons the Tigers were not an elite defensive team. However, they were an elite offensive team, and opponents knew they had to put up big numbers as well to compete with LSU. Therefore, I am surprised, with more obvious pasing situations, that Chaisson did have more sacks throughout the season. Nevertheless, I can see Quinn falling in love with that speed that Chaisson possess.
To quote NFL.com "For a player with so many elite physical traits, Kinlaw's tape was much more inconsistent than expected." This jumps out at me, and reminds me of Ra'Shede Hageman. Maybe the guy gets to Atlanta and Grady Jarrett can teach him to be a pro, but I don't think that should be a concern for a first round pick. Kinlaw had 6.5 sacks last year and could be a disruptive force next to Grady. the 6'6" 310 lbs senior has a tremendous story, and could be a major addition to the interior of the Falcons D-Line.
These are not the only options for the Falcons others see the Falcons taking a player in the secondary such as CJ Henderson from Florida or Xavier McKinney from Alabama. Still, others see us trading up and taking Jeff Okudah from Ohio State. Who do you see the Falcons taking with their first overall pick? Let us know on Twitter, @atlsportpodcast.
Check back next week for our thoughts on our second and third round picks. If you don't already, be sure to follow us on Twitter and check out our Podcast, The Atlanta Sports Podcast, on your favorite Podcasting platform. Have a great week!