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Marino | Atlanta Falcons draft class reaction

APR 27 2017 NFL Draft
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

NFL Draft

Marino | Atlanta Falcons draft class reaction

Over the course of May, both Kyle Crabbs 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:

Selection Position Player School
26 EDGE Takkarist McKinley UCLA
75 LB Duke Riley Louisiana State
136 G Sean Harlow Oregon State
149 CB Damontae Kazee San Diego State
156 RB Brian Hill Wyoming
174 TE Eric Saubert Drake


Best Value:  CB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State

Despite being honored as the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, Kazee isn’t a universal scheme fit but can dominate in zone packages that highlight his short area quickness and plant-and-drive skills. Kazee plays with a natural feel in zone coverage and does well to attack the football with good ball skills. He is aggressive in both his willingness to tackle, and in undercutting routes to break on the football.

Kazee plays well above his weight class and will never back down from a chance to be physical. Kazee has the potential to be a starting slot corner which is great value in the fifth round.

Worst Value:  LB Duke Riley, LSU

Duke Riley finally got his chance to start in his senior season, and he did well to demonstrate a draftable skill set in a short period of time. Improving as the season progressed, Riley is a fast-to-flow linebacker who reads his keys and commits properly to the football. He has good range and mobility in space.

Riley has tackling technique issues to improve, as he doesn’t arrive at the football square and in position to make tackles. Too often he is trying to latch on from the side and inevitably slides off. Additional, Riley needs work in terms of how he deals with blocks and takes angles to the football. Riley should start as a core special teams player with upside to become a reliable backup and spot starter. A player that I valued in the 5th round is a reach in the third.

Could Surprise:  G Sean Harlow, Oregon State

It’s easy to love Harlow’s play demeanor. He is physical and tenacious in his approach to blocking, works through the whistle, and looks to finish blocks. As a pass blocker, Harlow does well to slide his feet, and shut down gaps. Development is needed but he has the potential to be a serviceable interior backup and eventual starter in the NFL.

From the Oregon State roots to stylistic similarities, Harlow compares well to current starting left guard Andy Levitre who he may ultimately replace in the lineup.

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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