Should the Falcons take an offensive tackle or a defensive tackle?
The Falcons finished 7-9, and had a stretch of five consecutive losses. Sitting at 4-9, the Falcons could have gone into a complete tailspin. Instead, a three-game win streak to close the season brought Atlanta to 7-9 and the middle of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
If the Falcons can hit on some picks in this draft, it’s easy to see them getting back into the playoffs and making another run at the Super Bowl. That, of course, starts with finding a viable contributor with the 14th overall pick.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Choate: This is ... not what I was hoping for. I had promised myself that if any one of Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Brian Burns, or Montez Sweat meandered to 14, I would be swooping down on them like some sort of bird of prey. The Falcons need building blocks along their defensive line that badly, and any one of those players would’ve represented exactly that.
Instead, I’ll go along the offensive line and pick up the best guy left, in my humble opinion. The Falcons have been signaling all offseason that they would like to upgrade their right tackle situation, which is currently former Vic Beasley victim and former swing tackle Ty Sambrailo and promising UDFA Matt Gono. Williams delivers on that, even if he may or may not be stellar day one on the right side Atlanta’s line. He’s pro ready, potent, and a good fit for what the Falcons would like to do here, and having him locked up for the next five seasons gives Atlanta true bookends for what’s likely to be the last few great seasons of Matt Ryan’s career.
So long as they manage to leverage their nine draft picks to land defensive line help, adding Williams sets the offense up to be a juggernaut yet again in 2019 and beyond.
Analysis: This pick was really shocking until the final part of the explanation. Surely if Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is there, he makes a lot of sense. He’s arguably one of the 10 best players in this draft, and not far behind Oliver as a prospect. He’s a great fit, a great value, and fans would love him.
That line about Ryan’s last great years is sticking with me, though. It’s easy to forget that Ryan turns 34 in May and that he’s been in the NFL since 2008. Ryan was excellent last season, but if the line in front of him is shaky he could regress some. A player like Williams, who played right tackle at Alabama in 2016 and became a Freshman All-American, should fit fine on that side in the NFL.
It’s a fascinating discussion, though, on which position the Falcons need more in the first round.
Top five remaining players:
- 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
- 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
- 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
- 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
- 16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The final pick of the day in SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft is going up at 3 p.m. with Ken Meringolo of Hogs Haven making the pick for Washington.