On Thursday Peter Schrager, host of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, published his first mock draft, one that features the Atlanta Falcons making a move that would “rock the NFL,” as he puts it. Specifically, Schrager envisions the New England Patriots trading up from No. 15 overall to get Atlanta’s No. 4 pick, giving Bill Belichick the chance to land a potential franchise quarterback.
While it would be a big leap for the Patriots to move up 11 spots in the first round, Schrager insists his proposed trade “isn’t too crazy.”
In exchange for the No. 4 overall selection, he has New England giving up the No. 15 and No. 46 picks this year—plus its first- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft—to get quarterback Justin Fields (Ohio State). The “Patriots don’t envision having a pick as high as they currently do (15th) anytime soon, and this is their year to make a big move if they’re ever going to get their blue-chip QB to develop,” argues Schrager.
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The Falcons Take ‘2021 LB Prototype’ at No. 15 Overall
Moving down 11 spots would take the Falcons out of the running for Best Player Available-types like Florida tight end and Kyle Pitts, not to mention other elite offensive weapons like wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase of LSU. But most of the top defensive prospects would likely still remain on the board, a list that includes Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who Schrager has going to the Falcons with the No. 15 pick in the draft.
“Yes, they have Deion Jones. But the division rival Bucs have Devin White and Lavonte David, and how’s that working out?” writes Shrager, referring to Tampa Bay’s inside linebacker tandem. “Owusu-Koramoah is a wild-card prospect—he’s going to be playing at 220-230 pounds—but he fits the bill for the 2021 LB prototype.”
LB2 in the 2021 NFL Draft
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 17, 2021
Pro Football Focus Has Owusu-Koramoah as its LB2 for 2021
Indeed Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would provide defensive coordinator Dean Pees with a combination of coverage skills, range and hitting ability that is prized in today’s NFL. That’s why Pro Football Focus has him rated as the second-best linebacker in this year’s draft, noting that JOK “boasts lightning short-area quicks and explodes into contact with an uncoachable ferocity.”
Never mind that at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds he’s a little undersized as an inside linebacker, because in practice he would line up at a variety of different positions.
“In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if NFL teams evaluated the 215-pounder as a safety in their defenses because the position he played at Notre Dame was more akin to slot corner in the NFL than anything else,” notes Michael Renner of PFF. “He played the overhang spot for the Irish, which meant he often had to run with slot receivers down the field. Even still, he earned [PFF] coverage grades of 77.2 (2019) and 82.3 (2020) the past two seasons.
“His flexibility could be invaluable to a creative defensive coordinator,” concludes PFF, and make him “a defense’s answer to [the] modern offense.” It doesn’t hurt that the Falcons need help at both inside linebacker and safety, and that Owusu-Koramoah could potentially be of help at both positions.
As for whether Owusu-Koramoah would still be available at No. 15 is something of a question mark, however. Inside linebackers who can play sideline to sideline and not get exposed in coverage are going for a premium price in the draft, which is why the Pittsburgh Steelers felt compelled to trade up ten spots in the 2019 Draft to select Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush at No. 10 overall.
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