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Mel Kiper Jr's draft grades


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Atlanta Falcons Scouts Inc. on 2016 class

1 (17) Keanu Neal, S, Florida | Highlights

What he brings: Neal is an outstanding run defender with above average stopping power and the potential to quickly develop into a starter. While his timed top-end speed (4.63 in the 40-yard dash) is slightly below average, he covers more ground than safeties who run similar times. He has the ability to diagnose quickly, meaning he gets an early break on the ball. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: William Moore departed in free agency, leaving a void at strong safety that will be filled by Neal. He brings a physical edge that defensive coordinator Richard Smith will welcome and need to infuse within the defense. Smith can also get creative with Neal in his pressure packages, as Neal is an underrated blitzer. -- Kevin Weidl

2 (52) Deion Jones, OLB, LSU | Highlights

What he brings: The former LSU linebacker lacks prototypical measurables for the position, but he is an explosive athlete who holds up well in space. He has adequate instincts and an elite closing burst that provides him with sideline-to-sideline range as a run defender. In addition, he brings good value on third downs with the ability to hold up in coverage. Jones is an instinctive and explosive blitzer. He will never be a strong point-of-attack defender, but he has a chance to excel as weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.

How he fits: The Falcons needed to upgrade their playmaking ability at linebacker and Jones fits the bill. His speed, range and athleticism should help improve their underneath coverage, as they gave up a league high 213 combined completions to running backs and tight ends last year. -- Kevin Weidl The Falcons needed to upgrade their playmaking ability at linebacker and Deion Jones fits the bill. AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman

3 (81) Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford | Highlights

What he brings: Hooper has good size potential and the talent to develop into a pass-catching weapon. He has the athleticism to create separation with enough speed to threaten the intermediate to deep middle part of the field. In addition, he has above-average hands and body control adjusting to throws outside of his frame. He needs to continue to add weight and add strength, both as a run-blocker and as a route runner. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: Jacob Tamme is coming off a productive year but he's 31 years old, Levine Toilolo caught just seven passes last year and quarterback Matt Ryan is coming off a underwhelming season. Adding a big target in Hooper with the potential to develop into a weapon in the red zone and down the seam makes sense. -- Steve Muench

4 (115) De'Vondre Campbell, OLB, Minnesota | Highlights

What he brings: Campbell is an athletic linebacker with quality measurables and length. He's a better athlete than football player and will be a split second late with his recognition skills. He also needs to get stronger to improve his point-of-attack skills. Campbell, however, possesses above-average agility, closing speed and holds up well in space as a tackler. He has the skill set to contribute on special teams early in his career while he develops. -- Kevin Weidl

6 (195) Wes Schweitzer, OG, San Jose State

What he brings: A three-year starter and team captain, Schweitzer lined up at right and left tackle at San Jose State. He tested well at his pro day but he'll likely have to move inside to guard because of his shorter arms and he's on the lighter side for a guard prospect.

7 (238) Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA | Highlights

What he brings: Fuller is a leaner receiver with shorter arms and he's had some problems staying healthy, but he has intriguing top-end speed. -- Steve Muench Mel Kiper's Draft Grade: B-

Kiper: Dan Quinn needs more speed at linebacker if he wants to build a defense that can resemble the unit he and Pete Carroll had in Seattle, and he got faster and more versatile there. Keanu Neal is more of a second-round talent on my board, but I know he was coveted by a couple of teams in this range, and Quinn has a Kam Chancellor or Deone Bucannon-type safety who doubles as a linebacker. Deion Jones is undersized but can fly at linebacker and is the kind of player who will help them from getting beat so often by running backs catching passes. The Falcons needed a player like Austin Hooper with the likes of Jacob Tamme and Levine Toilolo the best they have at tight end, and De'Vondre Campbell is yet another athletic linebacker (my No. 11 outside linebacker). The question mark is on the defensive line, where Atlanta didn't gain anything, but the Falcons could be seeing an extreme makeover at linebacker, and might have done it through a single draft.

Todd McShay's favorite pick

Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford (No. 81 pick)

The Falcons needed to find a tight end who can stretch the seam for QB Matt Ryan. Hooper has the speed (4.72 40) to get vertical in a hurry and the size (6-foot-4) to go up and get the ball. He isn't a great route runner and he needs to continue to add weight and strength, but for a team in major need of some pass-catchers with upside, Hooper is a good fit in Atlanta. Ryan can't have enough weapons.

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