The Atlanta Falcons drafted and officially agreed to terms with the 2017 NFL Draft class, which features: UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley (26th overall); LSU linebacker Duke Riley (round 3, pick 11); Oregon State offensive guard Sean Harlow (round 4, pick 30); San Diego State cornerback Domantae Kazee (round 5, pick 5); Wyoming running back Brian Hill (round 5, pick 12), and Drake University tight end Eric Saubert (round 5, pick 31). With three offensive and three defensive players selected, the areas needing to be addressed shows balance, but defensively is where the Falcons sought for answers.
Riley brings speed as he had the fastest 40-yard dash of all linebackers at the Combine with a time of 4.58. The former LSU linebacker will join forces with former teammate Dion Jones on the defensive front. Harlow is a key addition as MVP Matt Ryan was the fifth most hit quarterback (105 times) and he can fight for a starting job in camp. Kazee, a ballhawk cornerback from the Mountain West, can be a legit backup. Desmond Trufant sat most of last season and will be healthy, but if injuries arrive, Kazee can be a fill-in which was a calling cast for young guys in the secondary last year. Also a product of the Mountain West, Hill won’t see much playing time due to the two-headed monster backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but you need depth in the run game. The last Falcons draft pick, tight end Saubert, could potentially get into the mix in receiving catches. The Falcons used any and every weapon in the pass game last season and Saubert could well be a tool in the shed for Ryan to select.