On our path to the draft, we’ll drop the latest mock draft from D. Orlando Ledbetter, our Atlanta Falcons Beat writer, each Friday. Here’s version 2.0 for the NFL Draft, which is set for April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.
Here in the Mock Draft 2.0, with the 26th pick in the NFL draft the Atlanta Falcons will select South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst.
The Cleveland Browns, who own the first and fourth overall picks, will control the top portion of the draft.
New general manager John Dorsey, who was named the PFWA’s executive of the year when with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, was hired to fix the franchise. He knows what to do with the picks that former general manager Sashi Brown accumulated.
Under Dorsey’s direction, look for the revival of the Browns in the coming seasons.
Dorsey is a former player and was a scout with the Green Bay Packers. He learned under general manager Ron Wolf and was with the team when they traded with the Falcons for Brett Favre. Wolf was dazzled by Favre’s arm strength and knew he had the coaches in Mike Holmgren, offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis and quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci to harness that talent.
Dorsey was Green Bay’s director of college scouting in 2005 when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers and put in their transition plan from Favre.
Based on that history, Dorsey’s not going to gamble on an undersized player (Baker Mayfield) or on a running quarterback (Lamar Jackson). He’s going to go with the most stable, talented and physically gifted quarterback in the draft and that is Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Like Rodgers, he won’t have to play immediately after their trade for Tyrod Taylor.
Allen can learn the ropes while transitioning to the NFL. During his Pro Day workout, which was televised on NFL Network, Allen finished by launching a ball from his 10-yard line that was caught by a receiver at the other 10-yard line.
Let’s do some quick math, that’s 80 yards.
Allen must learn how to put some touch on his throws underneath and learn how to place balls through passing windows in the defense.
The knock on Allen is his low completion percentage of 57 percent. Folks have had trouble explaining that away. But Favre, before the pass-happy era, had a 52.5 completion percentage coming out of Southern Mississippi in 1990.
After fleecing the Falcons, the Packers wanted to develop Favre, but an ankle injury to Dan “Magic Man” Majkowski against Cincinnati forced him to play. The gunslinging Favre rallied the Packers to victory and stole Majkowski’s job.
Favre, who had a low Wonderlic score, couldn’t proficiently read defenses for two seasons and basically just forced the ball to wide receiver Sterling Sharpe before the coaches finally got him together.
After taking Allen, the Browns can wait until the fourth pick and then land N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, of Hillgrove High, to pair with Myles Garrett.
Now, more about the Falcons pick.
They’ll want to trade up to get one of the defensive tackles, either Vita Vea or Da’Ron Payne. They do like Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan, too.
But at every opportunity, coach Dan Quinn has pointed out that this draft is deep at the defensive tackle position. When pressed, he has not been overly concerned about replacing Dontari Poe in the run defense.
Quinn clearly believes that he can find a run-plugging defensive tackle either in the draft or later in the offseason.
“This is a unique group,” said Quinn of the defensive tackles in the draft. “There are a lot of big guys somewhere between 280 and 300 pounds that can really move. Having that kind of versatility, where a guy can penetrate and get up field, those are the things that I really look for at the (tackle) positions.”
Some other intriguing players to the Falcons, not necessarily first-rounders, are Ohio State defensive end Jaylen Holmes, Memphis linebacker Genard Avery, Mississippi State defensive end Breeland Speaks and Limestone wide receiver Vyncint Smith is set to workout for the Falcons on Monday.
Hurst, a former Pittsburgh Pirates’ basebal farm hand, believes he can flex outside and in-line block.
“I think it’s showed on my tape that when I’m flexed out wide, I’m able to change the game for our offense,” Hurst said. “Whatever team drafts me, I think that’s what I specialize in. But in the run game, I love being physical, I love hitting people.”
He admits to needing some technique work.
“If I can just sharpen up some techniques, I think I’m going to be able to change and take it to the next level,” Hurst said.
2018 NFL Draft: First-round order
UPDATED THROUGH MARCH 29
1- 1- 1 Cleveland – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
1- 2- 2 New York Giants – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
1- 3- 3 New York Jets from Indianapolis (a) ---Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
1- 4- 4 Cleveland from Houston (b) – Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
1- 5- 5 Denver – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
1- 6- 6 Indianapolis from New York Jets (c) – Quinton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
1- 7- 7 Tampa Bay – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
1- 8- 8 Chicago – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
1- 9- 9 San Francisco – Tremaine Edmonds, LB, Virginia Tech
1-10-10 Oakland – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
1-11-11 Miami – Derwin James, DB, Florida State
1-12-12 Buffalo from Cincinnati (d) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
1-13-13 Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
1-14-14 Green Bay – Marcus Davenport, DE, UT-San Antonio
1-15-15 Arizona – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
1-16-16 Baltimore – Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
1-17-17 Los Angeles Chargers – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
1-18-18 Seattle – Isiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
1-19-19 Dallas – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
1-20-20 Detroit – DaRon Payne, DT, Alabama
1-21-21 Cincinnati from Buffalo (e) – Rashaad Evans, ILB, Alabama
1-22-22 Buffalo from Kansas City (f) – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
1-23-23 Los Angeles Rams – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
1-24-24 Carolina -- Mike McGlinchey, OG, Notre Dame
1-25-25 Tennessee – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
1-26-26 Atlanta – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
1-27-27 New Orleans – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
1-28-28 Pittsburgh – Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Pittsburgh
1-29-29 Jacksonville – Dallas Goedert, TE, San Diego State
1-30-30 Minnesota – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
1-31-31 New England – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
1-32-32 Philadelphia – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
(a) Jets acquired pick from Colts for first-round pick, two second-round picks and second-round pick in 2019, March 17, 2018.
(b) Browns acquired pick and first-round pick in 2017 (S Jabrill Peppers) from Texans for first-round pick in 2017 (QB Deshaun Watson), April 27, 2017.
(c) Colts acquired pick from Jets: see (1a).
(d) Bills acquired pick and sixth-round pick from Bengals for T Cordy Glenn and first-round pick, March 14, 2018.
(e) Bengals acquired pick from Bills: see (1b).
(f) Bills acquired pick and first- (CB Tre'Davious White) and third-round picks in 2017 from Chiefs for first-round pick in 2017 (QB Patrick Mahomes), April 27, 2017.