Their happens to be quite a pool of talent in this year class defensive tackle class with 3 to 4 being projected in the first round. The Talent continues on into the second and third rounds as well. Let's take a look at some of those second-third Round DTs that the Falcons might be targeting.
A potential Falcons draft pick?
Let's start off with Brandon Thompson, the former DT for Clemson comes in at 6'2 310 lbs. He would play the NT role in the 4-3 scheme, but he could also put on weight and play the NT in the 3-4. Right now he looks to be a DE in the 3-4. Thompson possesses great strength when he gets a good leg drive going, in addition he has a great rip move which he uses while attacking the Oline. This combination gives Thompson an area in which he can rush the passer effectively. In terms on the run game Thompson does a good Job of getting off his blocks and making the tackle, but can also create and fight through double teams opening holes in the line for the rest of his team to fill in and make the tackles. I have him projected as a second rounder. Atlanta has interest in him and has worked him out in addition to interviewing him.
Thompson would also be a great fit for Carolina who have had continuous problems at the DT position; Thompson would be a valuable space eater for one of the best LB corps in the NFL. Tampa Bay could also have interest in Thompson as both Brian Price and Gerald McCoy have struggled greatly with injuries, and Brian Price has struggled in general. New Orleans is out of position for Thompson without a trade up.
Josh Chapman is another big body at 6'1 315 lbs. Chapman comes from the decorated University of Alabama that is known for churning out defensive talent for the NFL. Chapman likely would have been a second round pick if he hadn't torn his ACL during his senior campaign. Right now I have him projected in the third to fourth round range. Chapman is mountain who can eat up double teams all day and create room for the rest of the team to work. He doesn't have much in terms of a pass rush, but he is a great run stuffer. Right now Chapman projects to be more of a 3-4 NT, however if he can keep his weight around 315 he could also play NT in the 4-3. He'll have to add some kind of pass rush or else he'll be a situational player at best in the 4-3. Atlanta has confirmed interest in Chapman having had him in for visit. As it goes, all four teams in the NFC South could have interest for depth and run defense reasons.
Derek Wolfe, unlike the others, is more of a pass rusher and fits at the UT in a 4-3 or as 3-4 DE. Wolfe stands in at 6'5 295 lbs. The best thing about Wolfe is that he has a relentless motor, he will fight his way to the ball one way or another and just doesn't give up. Wolfe also sheds blocks well in the run game and is a good tackler. In terms of pass rush he has a good arsenal of moves, but his go to move would be his swin move. He rotates the moves and utilizes his strength to get around the Oline. At this point I have Wolfe as a third to fourth round prospect, who will be a solid contributor to whichever team picks him up. He's a guy I could see New Orleans having interest in as Sedrick Ellis has been a disappointment so far in his career.
Kendall Reyes is another 4-3 UT that has really climbed up people's board since his great performance at the Senior Bowl. I've seen him projected from the late first to the early second. I personally have him pegged as a second round pick. He stands in at 6'4 300 lbs, but Reyes is a athletic freak possessing great speed for his size. He even managed to record a couple of INTs in his career at UConn. Reyes is a guy that has great burst and a great rip and swim move that he uses to beat guards on the inside. He has a bit of a bull rush, but it's not going to be his dominant move at the next level. In the NFL he'll need to utilize his athleticism, moves, and knowledge, and as he bulks up and learns the bull rush will come. Reyes is going to be a great contributor for the team that picks him. Right now I see Carolina having interest in him as he could come in and add a pass rushing presence on the interior of the Dline and also bolster their run D.
In addition to the first tier there is another tier of very talented DTs that could be available from round two to four. This is a very deep class for DTs in my opinion and many should have an impact in the future. The NFC South as a whole has a collective need at DT, so we should expect to see a couple of fresh new faces on the interior in the coming year. Several of these prospects could flourish into stars at the next level, as the NFL as a whole are realizing the need for an interior presence not only in the running game, but also in the pass rush to collapse the pocket.
Previous Atlanta Falcons Draft Outlooks: