“Why?”, you ask? For starters, Alabama produces champions, such as Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones. Also, the Falcons hold to the No. 4 pick and there are a few Bama products set to go in the top 10 of this year’s NFL draft that Atlanta could be eyeing.
Let’s take a look at who the Falcons could be eyeing from Alabama.
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Patrick Surtain II, CB
As a 6’2″ 202 pound corner, Patrick Surtain has been starting on Nick Saban’s defense since he was a true freshman. The, now, junior played in all 40 games with 38 consecutive starts for the Crimson Tide and recorded 116 tackles, 6 for a loss, four interceptions, and 24 passes defended, along with three forced fumbles.
This past season, Surtain was named unanimous All-American and won SEC Defensive Player of the Year, recording 37 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, an interception, and nine passes defended.
Football also runs deep in the Surtain family as Patrick Surtain II is the son of 10-year pro and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Patrick Surtain, who spent 11 seasons in the NFL.
To get “more bang for their buck” the Falcons’ best bet will be to trade back. Several analysts have Atlanta drafting one of the several top quarterback prospects at No. 4, but if they plan on having Matt Ryan starting this season, it’s better for them to address their other needs first.
The Falcons currently have nine draft picks and trading back with another team could potentially give them three more in this year’s draft.
Najee Harris, RB
The Falcons finished the 2020 season ranked 27th in the NFL with an average of 95 rush yards per game.
Falcons running backs Todd Gurley and Brian Hill are currently free agents, leaving the team with just Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison, and new signee Mike Davis. Davis could end up being another bust like Gurley, so the Falcons could look at trading back for Najee Harris.
If it’s not Harris that the Falcons turn to in the first round of the 2021 draft, they’re going to have to turn to someone in the middle rounds.
This past season Harris rushed for 1.466 yards and 26 touchdowns on 251 attempts (5.8 yards per carry). He also reeled in 43 catches for 425 yards and four touchdown receptions for the National Champs.
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Mac Jones, QB
There is no doubt the Falcons will draft their future franchise quarterback in this year’s draft with all of the signal-caller talent available, but will it be Mac Jones?
Jones was thrown into a starting role once Tua Tagovailoa was sidelined with a hip injury in 2019. During that season, Jones completed 69 percent of his passes that season for 1,503 yards, 14 touchdowns, and three interceptions.
He stepped his game up in 2020 as an elite starter, completing 77 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions on top of a National Championship ring for the Crimson Tide.
These are the top three talents out of Alabama in this year’s draft class. Out of the trio, the Falcons were likely paying the most attention to Surtain, since the cornerback position is still a big hole they need to fill and he is the most interesting of the three. Of course, we can only continue to speculate what Atlanta might do because you never know what next month’s draft will bring.