The NFL draft is almost upon us and the last thing anyone needs is yet another mock draft, so don’t worry this is isn’t one of those (Zennie62Media coverage by Courtyard by Marriott Central Park). What this article intends to do is give the best possible scenarios for the Atlanta Falcons in this draft, including possible trades and players falling to the Falcons that perhaps may not be expected, but at the same time keeping it as realistic as possible.
The Falcons positions of need are both offensive and defensive line and safety in the top 3-4 rounds. In the later rounds they may also want to add a tight end, running back and add some depth on those lines as well as defensive backs which you can never have enough of.
General manager, Thomas Dimitroff has 10 picks in this draft to play with including three compensatory selections ( Nos. 139, 253 and 255 overall) although the compensatory picks cannot be traded. Here is a run down of the Falcons current selection order.
R1) 6 (R2) 37 (R3) 68 (R4) 103 (R4) 139 (R5) 147 (R6) 182 (R7) 220 (R7) 253 (R7) 255
The current debate is whether the first pick should be an offensive lineman or defensive end. Both lines were addressed in some part in free agency and the Falcons will also have left tackle Sam Baker back from injury in 2014 although Baker’s health comes with no guarantees as he has missed plenty of games since being drafted back in 2008. That said the pass rush could be the main area of concern with the concern being, the Falcons simply do not have one and haven’t had a genuine and consistent pass rush since 2004 when the D-line contained Patrick Kearney, Rod Coleman and Brady Smith.
The best possible scenario for Atlanta in the first round is getting Jadeveon Clowney but he will not be there when the Falcons pick at 6 and therefore your going to have to trade up to get him. Trading up comes at a price but since the Falcons will only be moving up 4 or 5 places that price should not be as high as some may think, however in a draft so loaded with talent the picks you give up should come from next year’s draft where possible although you can probably afford the 4th round pick from this year to get the true pass rusher you have been craving all these years, I could even push that to this years third round pick. If the Birds miss out on Clowney then the next choice would have to be Khalil Mack who some believe is the better player anyway. If the Falcons are going to play more 3-4 defensive then perhaps Mack is the better fit. If you can’t get either player then perhaps your trade comes from the second round back into the first to get defensive end Dee Ford who had 19 sacks at Auburn last year.
Top 3 Pass Rushers> Jadeveon Clowney> Khalil Mack> Dee Ford
Should the Falcons be unable to get either Clowney or Mack in the first round and that is entirely possible then the focus should and will switch to offensive line. Greg Robinson is the best of a strong group followed by Jake Matthews but again these two could be gone which leaves the Falcons with Taylor Lewan. If the Falcons are not high on Lewan then maybe they should try to trade down get another pick in the second round pick Dee Ford followed by the best remaining lineman with the first two picks, perhaps Cyrus Kounandjio.
Top 3 O-lineman> Greg Robinson> Jake Matthews> Taylor Lewan
Although the Falcons signed free safety Dwight Lowery in free agency I’d expect them to draft a safety as high as the third round. Many believe the best safety in this draft to be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (he also has the best name) from Alabama. Dix will be lone gone by now so unless the Falcons have traded down to get more picks they won’t be picking Dix. If things go differently in the first round the Falcons may try for a safety in the second round and that gives them a shot at the best of the rest. Calvin Pryor, Louisville, Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois and Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State.
Top 3 Safeties> Ha Ha Clinton-Dix> Calvin Pryor> Jimmie Ward
The Later Rounds
If the Falcons want to add depth to the offensive and defensive lines they have enough picks to do so. They may also want to add a Tight End and a running back and not just to add depth but to compete for some minutes, especially as the Falcons ranked last in rushing in 2013 and have a hole to fill at tight end after Tony Gonzalez retired. Eric Ebron is the best tight end but the Falcons could get lucky with someone like C.J. Fiedorowicz by perhaps trading back up into the third round. It seems that running backs are not being taken as high as they were several years ago and therefore that means that you can draft a potential starting running back in the fourth round, a round were Atlanta currently has three picks. Tre Mason would be a steal in the fourth as would De’Anthony Thomas who is more likely to be there.
Best possible realistic scenario’s for the first 5 picks.
1) 1. Jadeveon Clowney (DE) 2. Calvin Pryor (S) 3. Cyrus Kounandjio (OT) 4.C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE) 5. De’Anthony Thomas (RB)
2) 1. Greg Robinson (OT) 2. Dee Ford (DE) 3. Jimmie Ward (S) 4.C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE) 5. De’Anthony Thomas (RB)