Over the course of May, both Joe Marino and I will be assessing each team’s specific Draft class. The objective here is to identify value: where it was best and where it was worst. NDT Premium members will soon be able to access the comprehensive breakdowns of draft classes as well, which looks at the pick by pick breakdown of value across our respective 2017 NFL Draft boards. Today I look at the Atlanta Falcons.
The full list of their 2017 NFL Draft class is below:
|75||LB||Duke Riley||Louisiana State|
|136||G||Sean Harlow||Oregon State|
|149||CB||Damontae Kazee||San Diego State|
Best Value: OL Sean Harlow, Oregon State
Harlow is one of my favorite interior offensive line prospects in this class. Having played left tackle at Oregon State, Harlow features some similarities to Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp in terms of not just college to pro transition but also in skill.
Harlow has an effective ability to manipulate people at the line of scrimmage; he accomplishes this with clean feet, strong functional athleticism and effective hands. Harlow does well to mirror in space as a pass protector. Harlow isn’t a player that is going to win with overwhelming power. Yet with that in mind, he’s effective in sealing gaps and should be a plus blocker in zone situations.
Worst Value: LB Duke Riley, Louisiana State
Riley is a double down on what worked for the Falcons last year, when they selected fellow LSU LB Deion Jones. Riley is a one year starter who has notable range and short area acceleration skills. His mobility is difficult to ignore and will give him opportunities to make splash plays against both the pass and run when he’s on the field.
My gripe with Riley? I’m not especially sold on his physicality or tackling. I did have the same issues with Jones coming out last year; perhaps the Falcons can unlock his potential the same way. It’s also worth noting I had Riley ranked 120th on my draft board. I don’t dislike the player; I’m just a little lower on him than where the Falcons opted to make the investment.
A player with a 45 slot deviation away from my personal draft board is a testament to how well I thought the Falcons drafted this year.
Could Surprise: RB Brian Hill, Wyoming
I was tempted to go with Drake TE Eric Saubert here, who I’m a fan of as well. But Saubert enters training camp buried underneath some young options on the Falcons’ depth chart so I’ll go with Brian Hill.
The Falcons have some decisions to make with Foreman and Coleman nearing renewal time. The selection of Hill appears to be writing on the wall that both veteran backs will not be in the cards for the long haul in Atlanta. Hill is a physical, bruising runner who I think could step into a Tevin Coleman role and provide a fair amount of productivity.
His north/south skills are effective and his frame forces him to consistently pinball off of contact on the second level.