It’s Jan. 27. The NFL draft is April 22-24. (Yes, it’s three days this year, beginning with Round 1 on a Thursday night.) And Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has already delivered not just a Rock 1 mock but possibilities for Rounds 2 and 3. (Link requires registration.) Mel, it’s fair to say, works hard at his job.
You probably know that Kiper has the Falcons taking Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle with the draft’s 19th pick. (Although it’s not yet clear if the Falcons will have the 19th pick. The NFL will flip a coin to decide next month.) You’re also doubtless aware the Falcons don’t hold a Round 2 pick this season, having dealt it to Kansas City for Tony Gonzalez. But here, courtesy of Mel Jr., are names to watch for the Falcons’ Round 3 pick, which is 73rd overall:
And here we have Mel’s rationale:
“The Falcons tied for 26th in the NFL in sacks in 2009, so anybody that gives them some help in getting to the quarterback is a good thing. Kindle is probably undersized as a pure 4-3 DE, but he can help in pass-rushing situations. Kindle could also convert to an upright. I think the Falcons would be thrilled if a guy like Griffen fell to them at No. 19. They could also use help at CB, and I actually think they should add some depth at the WR position, because as Matt Ryan enters his third year he’ll be able to do more — and more talent at receiver, or even an apprentice to Tony Gonzalez, wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
Me, I’d look hardest at Franks and Thompson, the latter in particular. He’s ranked eighth among cornerbacks and 83rd on Scouts Inc.’s Top 100 (link requires registration). Washington is ranked fourth among inside linebackers and 73rd overall, but I can’t see the Falcons taking linebackers with their first two picks. That’s if we assume they take Kindle in Round 1, as per Kiper.
But I’m not sure they will. Ideally, the Falcons would take a defensive end in Round 1, a cornerback in Round 3 and then probably an offensive lineman in Round 4. (That’s me guessing, by the way.) And you could get away with drafting Kindle if you played a 3-4 because an outside linebacker in that set is a key pass rusher, but the Falcons deploy a 4-3 and don’t blitz overmuch.
Again, that’s me guessing. And I’ve got nearly three months to change my mind.