The Atlanta Falcons will need to crush it in the 2018 NFL Draft to keep pace with the contenders in the NFC this offseason. Here is their latest mock draft.
It was certainly an interesting year for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. After blowing a 25-point lead in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots, the Dirty Birds regressed a tad, but still managed to get back into the NFC playoffs. Interestingly, they were the only team to return out of the NFC from the 2016.
Though Atlanta was the No. 6 seed, the Falcons were able to win a road playoff game over the No. 3 Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round. That was franchise quarterback Matt Ryan’s first playoff road victory. Atlanta came up play short of sinking the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on their own turf in the divisional round.
Despite losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers job, it was a good year for Falcons football all things considered. That being said, Atlanta faces a critical offseason heading into 2018. The Falcons were already decimated in free agency due to having a lack of salary cap flexibility. Atlanta lost key players like defensive end Adrian Clayborn, defensive tackle Dontari Poe and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel this spring. The Falcons must draft well in late April.
Atlanta’s primary draft needs are on the defensive line, at cornerback and at safety. Secondary needs for the Falcons are at wide receiver, linebacker and running back. Tertiary needs for this football team are offensive tackle, tight end and guard. Here is the latest 2018 NFL mock draft for the Falcons.
DL, Michigan Wolverines
Losing both Clayborn and Poe on the defensive line must be address appropriately by the Falcons here at No. 26. That being said, we all kind of knew that Poe was a one-year rental and that Clayborn was never going to duplicate his six-sack performance against the Dallas Cowboys ever again. Look for the Falcons to take Maurice Hurst out of Michigan if he is still there late in the first round.
Hurst was a consensus All-American in his senior season in Ann Arbor. He had 59 total tackles (27 solo, 32 assists), 13.0 for a loss of yardage, 5.5 quarterback sacks, two passes defended and a forced fumble in his last year playing for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
In his four-year career with the Wolverines, Hurst had 130 total tackles (67 solo, 63 assists), 32.0 for a loss of yardage, 13.5 quarterback sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The guy was both a consistent and a productive player while playing for Big Blue as a collegiate.
Hurst is 6-foot-2, 292 pounds. He has 32-inch arms and 9 1/2 inch hands. Ideally, the Falcons could pair him alongside promising interior pass rusher Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. Hurst might be a tad undersized, but the guy certainly has star potential even if he is drafted in the latter part of round one.