Falcons’ draftboard: Here’s who the Falcons have talked to already

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons scouts, who now report directly to assistant general manager Scott Pioli, are out on the All-Star game circuit.

The East defeated the West 19-3 in the East-West Shrine Bowl last Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Former Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason was the top passer as he threw for 71 yards.

The Senior Bowl is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

The fine folks over at WalterFootball.com – Walter Cherepinsky (@walterfootball on twitter) and Charlie Campbell (@draftcampbell) – track the known visits by team and have an early list of who the Falcons have chatted with.

While the Falcons need pass rushers, they are also looking closely at tight ends, fullbacks and outside linebackers early in the draft process.

n this Sept. 6, 2014 photo provided by South Dakota State University, SDSU running back Zach Zenner runs against Cal Poly during an NCAA college football game in Brookings, S.D. Zenner, one game away from setting the all-time Football Championship Subdivision record for rushing, is looking to break the FCS record when SDSU faces rival North Dakota State in second-round playoff game Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 in Fargo. (AP Photo/South Dakota State, Dave Eggen) (The Associated Press)

In this Sept. 6, 2014 photo provided by South Dakota State University, SDSU running back Zach Zenner runs against Cal Poly during an NCAA college football game in Brookings, S.D. Zenner, one game away from setting the all-time Football Championship Subdivision record for rushing, is looking to break the FCS record when SDSU faces rival North Dakota State in second-round playoff game Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 in Fargo. (AP Photo/South Dakota State, Dave Eggen) (The Associated Press)

The draft is set for April 30-May 2 in Chicago and the Falcons have the eighth overall pick. We have a Sunday story that looks at the top 10 and the early analysis is that the Falcons could end up with Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and that Georgia running back Todd Gurley could slip to early in the second round because of his knee injury. (We’ll share the link when the story is posted.)

If the Falcons can pull of a Fowler/Gurley exacta, most of the Falcons fans would cheer.

Here’s a look at my early Mock Draft of the Top Ten.

Here are some of the players that the Falcons have talked with in order to help you start stacking your draftboard:

SENIOR BOWL

  • Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware: He’s 6-foot-5, 267 pounds and has decent hands. He’s projected to go in the fourth or fifth round by NFLDraftScout.com.
  • Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami: He’s a speedster at 5-10, 183 pounds. He caught 36 passes for 871 yards (24.2 per catch) and 10 touchdowns last season for the Hurricanes. The Eagles like him, too. He’s projected to go in the third round by NFLDraftScout.com.
  • Jordan Hicks, OLB, Texas: At 6-1, 241 pounds, he plays well in coverage. He’s projected to go in the fourth or fifth round.
  • JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas: He had a strong senior season for the Jayhawks.
  • Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson: He’s from Rockdale County High in Conyers. Over his career, Jarrett had 207 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 37 quarterback pressures, one pass breakup, two caused fumbles and four recovered fumbles in 1,642 snaps over 48 games (37 starts).
  • Devin Mahina, TE, Brigham Young: He looks like a Y (blocking) tight end. Not much of a pass-catcher.
  • Denzel Perryman, OLB/ILB, Miami: He’s a two-time All-ACC first-team selection.

EAST-WEST SHRINE BOWL

  • Addison Richards, WR, Regina: A Canadian prospect, who set a school-record with 55 receptions while leading the nation with 916 receiving yards – the second-highest total in school history.
  • Aaron Ripkowski, FB, Oklahoma: The former walk-on is a 6-1, 260-pound bruising led blocker.
  • Chucky Hunter, DT, TCU: He helped lead the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 season including a 42-3 victory over Mississippi in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
  • Zach Zenner, FB, South Dakota State: A Football Championship Subdivision All-American. He became the first player in Division I history to reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark in three consecutive seasons, finishing last season with 2,019 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.
  • B.J. Finney, C, Kansas State: First linemen to serve as captain three times for the Wildcats. He also has a wrestling background.
  • Devin Gardner, QB/WR, Michigan: He appeared in 49 games at quarterback and wide receiver, made 31 starts, which included 27 at quarterback and four at wide receiver.

THE DAN QUINN FILE

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Dan Quinn: ‘What a wonderful opportunity’

It’s Quinn’s turn to ask the Falcons questions

Shanahan to come to Falcons with baggage

Seattle’s Super Bowl only delays Falcons hiring of Dan Quinn

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