There’s no time to rest when it comes to the NFL Draft. Just as quickly as round one ended, round two is ready to begin. Thanks to the Falcons’ abysmal 2020 showing, they sit right at the top of rounds two and three. As a result, they are positioned to add another instant impact player to their haul, alongside first-round pick Kyle Pitts. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options available to them with the 35th pick of the 2021 NFL draft.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (or JOK, as he’s been abbreviated to online) is something of a darling among draft heads. The inside linebacker had an excellent 2020 with the Fighting Irish, logging personal awards aplenty (Butkus award, Unanimous All-American, ACC DPOY, and a first-teamer on the ACC TOTY), as well as helping them to a successful season as a team. His coverage skills are excellent, complemented by his speed and fluidity, and also has a knack for pressuring the quarterback. Many had a first-round grade on JOK, and you’d expect he will be highly coveted at the top of round 2. If he drops to 35, he’d make an excellent addition to a linebackers room that is a little thin right now.
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Another guy with a first-round grade among some circles, Trevon Moehrig could be the instant safety relief this side kind of needs. Moehrig ticks all the boxes in terms of his size and speed, and proved to be a real impact player in both 2019 and 2020. His nose for the ball is excellent, registering 6 interceptions, and 20 passes defended, over the past two seasons. Primarily used to negate the catching threat over the slot at TCU, he and would immediately upgrade a secondary lacking heading into 2021. Don’t let the question marks over his positioning skills deter you (these can definitely be ironed out), Moehrig would make an impact in year one and beyond.
Azeez Ojulari, DE/LB, Georgia
The home-town boy! The Georgia native, Georgia educated, Azeez Ojulari is one of the more prominent names in this season pass-rush class. Some have him as an outside linebacker, some have him as a defensive end, but Ojulari is the typical “edge” rusher. Explosive off the snap, and capable of contorting his body around tackles, he notched 14 sacks over two season with the Bulldogs. Ojulari isn’t likely to be the all-around answer to the position the Falcons have been lacking for a while. What he is right now is a situational pass-rusher, who has the scope to polish his game and become a valuable contributor.
Asante Samuel Jr, CB, Florida State
We’ve spoken about the son of form Falcon, Asante Samuel, previously here and here, so it’s difficult to not rehash what has already been said. Samuel Jr is quick, and capable of covering receivers man to man. He’s a little undersized, but certainly holds his own on passing downs. Part of the reason he’s slid, I feel, is what he can’t do, or can’t do right now. His athleticism is unquestioned, but his ability to read the play before it develops needs work. Some scouts have noted the number of penalties he gives up for pass interference, too, which certainly would need to be ironed out, if he’s to make it long term. Personally, I see a lot of Robert Alford in him, who certainly divided opinion during his stint in Atlanta. For my money, the pros outweigh the cons, and he would be well worth taking at the top of the second.
Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
A need that was lessened by the additions of Mike Davis and Cordarelle Patterson, the Falcons might still be interested in adding to their running back room. For my money, the best of the group left is Javone Williams. Williams was super productive in 2020, racking up 1140 yards, and 19 touchdowns, from 157 carries. Williams is explosive, and extremely difficult to bring down, once he gets going. He does take a little time to hit top speed, however, which likely hurt his stock. Adding him as a compliment to Davis, and having plays called by the guy who turned Derrick Henry into the man he is, might be the best scenario for Atlanta at the position long term.
There are a lot of really talented players still left in the draft. The Falcons have a lot of holes that need to be filled with the most talented players possible. The Falcons best bet, for my money, might well be to move down a little, and pick up an extra pick or two over the next couple of days. We haven’t really scratched the surface with who could contribute immediately to this team. Teven Jenkins, Christian Barrmore, Tyson Campbell, Landon Dickerson…Atlanta could conceivably move down 10 or so spots, pick up an extra third round pick, and still be in a positon to take on one of these guys. It’s not an immediately exciting move, but it might be the best option for this team right now.