After finishing the season at 4-12, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves holding the sixth pick in this year’s NFL draft.
Team owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith all made it very clear that the Falcons need to address issues along the offensive and defensive lines. Blank even went as far as to say the Falcons won’t be targeting a skill-position player with their first-round pick.
If the Falcons decide to go offensive line, they seem likely to target Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews or Auburn tackle Greg Robinson. But one NFL personnel guy recently told me -- before Robinson declared -- that he would take Michigan’s Taylor Lewan over Matthews because Lewan was more of a sure thing. Based on the way the Falcons’ offensive line has struggled, Matthews, Robinson or Lewan would be a home run.
If the Falcons opt to go defensive line, the most likely target would be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. However, Clowney seems unlikely to drop out of the top five, meaning the Falcons likely would have to trade up to get him. The St. Louis Rams appear somewhat willing to trade the No. 2 pick. Remember, Dimitroff has traded up before to get a player he coveted (Julio Jones in 2011).
UCLA’s Anthony Barr is another pass-rusher the Falcons might want to consider.
Check out Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0 to see which players he thinks the Falcons should target with their first pick.