Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons
By Allison Smith
There was lots of excitement for the new Atlanta Falcons during the 2017 NFL Draft in late April. The Falcons ended with 6 picks, which they split equally between additions on offense and defense.
Falcons 2017 Draft Class
1 – 26: Takkarist McKinley, DE from UCLA; 6’2, 250 lbs
3 – 75: Duke Riley, LB from LSU; is 6’0, 232 lbs
4 – 136: Sean Harlow, T from Oregon State; 6’4, 303 lbs
5 – 149: Damontae Kazee, DB from San Diego State; 5’10, 184 lbs
5 – 156: Brian Hill, RB from Wyoming; 6’1, 219 lbs
5 – 174: Eric Saubert, TE from Drake; 6’5, 253 lbs
Takkarist McKinley, will forever be known as the emotional, f bomb dropping draft pick, unintentionally creating his own catch phrase, “Fine Me Later.” All I know is that this kid WANTS to play and prove himself and make his promises to his grandmother come true. In pure class fashion, Takk has pinned an apology to his Twitter page, which is still there as we wrap Training Camp.
Takk is known for his pass rushing skills and actually getting to the quarterback, compiling 10 sacks in 2016 alone. He had 61 tackles, 18 for loss in his final year at UCLA. Takk immediately began referencing Falcons players like Vic Beasley and others from which he is eager and ready to learn. He also said, “It’s a brotherhood. I’m so excited to be home.”
Second, we add our 3rd LSU player in as many years. Duke Riley was the team captain and leading tackler his senior year and rejoins the previous holder of those titles, Deion Jones. Jalen Collins was the LSU pick the previous season. When Riley heard his name called, he immediately jumped up in excitement to be a “Dirty Bird.” Duke assured Head Coach Dan Quinn and General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff, that “You guys got the best guy in the draft.” Riley had 93 tackles in 2016 and is known for making plays, playing sideline to sideline, and having high football IQ.
To add to the offensive line competition this year, the Falcons added Tackle Sean Harlow, likely be converted to Guard. Harlow’s size will be a definite benefit, at 6’4, 305 pounds, he is within an inch and 5 pounds of the rest of the members of the O line and was recruited out of high school by new OC Steve Sarkisian. Harlow is excited to join the Falcons as well, “I’m at a loss of words. I’m excited to be around great players and learn from them.”
Cornerback Damontae Kazee, also, super happy to be a Falcon. “Words can’t explain how I feel right now. I almost already took a flight out there.” Kazee was a MW Defensive Player of the Year, holds the SDSU record for interceptions at 17 and is known to force fumbles. The Falcons noted that Kazee is tough, aggressive, and fiery.
The Falcons then added a running back out of Wyoming. Brian Hill ran for 4,287 yards and 35 touchdowns. He is big and athletic and self-noted, “I am the best running back in the draft.” Lots of flash coming to The Atl. Quinn noted that Hill has “The strength to be a solid 3rd down pass blocker, like a fullback, he runs angry.” Likely to start with special teams and see if he can work his way on to the already stacked running back squad.
The Falcons wrapped their draft with Eric Saubert, a Tight End from Drake. He had 111 catches and 17 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Echoing what many other draft picks said, “I can’t wait to get out there with Matt Ryan, it’s a blessing.” Dimitroff said Saubert has the opportunity “To be an explosive tight end in our scheme.”
DQ seemed overall pleased with the 2017 draft, noting that the defensive side added “Speed, athleticism,” and overall acquired “explosive, speed, competitive, grittiness” and got the on and off the field personalities that would fit in to this Brotherhood.
It took quite a while, but I am now able to move on from the game that will not be mentioned here and be excited about 2017 and our future. Whether these guys have swagger, confidence, or something to prove, I think this is our Super Bowl WINNING season. You will soon learn, I am a huge Clemson fan and saw how they recovered to return and win the 2nd time around. When I am right next February – remember FalconAlley said it first.
For a more detailed recap of the draft, check out our YouTube Channel Falcon Alley24.