Before we take a look at the picks made in Hotlanta, we’ll talk about a couple key off-season moves that may have colored their draft selections.
Roddy White Released
This opened the door for the WR2 in the Atlanta offense, but before we get to that we need to give Roddy White his reverent due. White had a fantastic run in Atlanta, both as a real-life and fantasy wide receiver. In many ways he was the WR2 to end all WR2s in fantasy for a good stretch. He spent all eleven years of his career in Atlanta, and posted a stretch of six straight 1,000-yard seasons. Perhaps bigger than that, he only missed four games in eleven years. White will surely be missed, and hopefully he catches on with a contender for a shot at a ring. That brings me to…
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Mohamed Sanu Signed
It wasn’t a banner year for free agent wideouts, but Sanu was one of the few prizes out there. Okay, calling him a prize might be a stretch, but he was available. Anyhow, Sanu was the third wide receiver last year in Cincinnati, and the Falcons awarded him with $14 million guaranteed. He does get loose coverage that comes with playing alongside Julio Jones, so we’ll have to see what he does with that.
Alex Mack Signed
While the Sanu signing may not be exciting, owners of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman should rejoice in this one. The Falcons struggled at the center position throughout last year with Mike Person, who was a guard playing out of position. This reunites Mack with the zone blocking scheme of Kyle Shanahan, who Mack played for in Cleveland. Even in a down 2015, Mack graded ten spots higher than Person, and should provide a boost for the offensive line overall. The Falcons are hoping he returns to his pre-injury Pro Bowl form. And like I said before, the offensive line can be key to the performance of skill players in fantasy.
Falcons Draft Picks – Offense
Austin Hooper, TE Stanford
Atlanta’s most exciting pick for fantasy was also its first offensive player. They picked Hooper in the third round to fill a gaping hole at tight end. Jacob Tamme may have had a career year last year, but he is a stop-gap measure at best. Hooper can come in and learn the ropes a bit to prepare to take over the position full-time in the future. He’s more of a move tight end, but could have the blocking chops to become an all-around player at the position. He’s also not an “athletic freak” at the position that dynasty owners have coveted, but it hasn’t exactly worked out for us in the past. Read more about Hooper here.
Devin Fuller, WR UCLA
The only other offensive player picked up by the Falcons came with a seventh round flier on Fuller. He was the WR2 at UCLA, and showed great speed at his pro day with a 4.39 40. He is a seventh-round pick, however, so we’ll have to watch in the off-season and training camp to see how it plays out for him.
Falcons Draft Picks – Defense
Keanu Neal, S Florida
There are three things we heard over and over about Neal post-draft. First, he was a reach at pick 17 overall. But looking at the success rate of draft picks in general, I don’t know if anyone is ever really a reach. Second, he will fill the Kam Chancellor role for Dan Quinn. It would be nice to see Neal become the punishing safety he can be in Atlanta. The third thing we heard is that Neal is named after Keanu Reeves. File that away in your useless trivia box.
Deion Jones, LB LSU
A second round pick, Jones brings outstanding athleticism and great speed to the Falcons linebacker corps. One knock against him is he only had one year as a starter for LSU, but in that year he racked up 100 tackles. Not bad. Jones will likely get a chance to take over starting duties at middle linebacker, but he will have to beat out Paul Worrilow to do it. He is a name to note for IDP owners.
De’Vondre Campbell, LB Minnesota
Not content with just Jones, the Falcons spent a fourth round pick on Campbell to further bolster the position. He should also have an opportunity to win a starting job, likely as the weak-side linebacker. He’s another strong athlete with good length who could be a worthy pickup in IDP leagues.
Wes Schweitzer, G San Jose State
Schweitzer is a project offensive lineman, and will likely be looking at a guard or swing position for the Falcons.
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