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NFL Atlanta Falcons

2014 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons’ Early Seven-Round Mock

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Atlanta Falcons' Seven-Round Mock

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Seeing as the 3-9 Atlanta Falcons’ season is all but over, it’s not too early to start looking towards the offseason and the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. There are numerous areas they must improve in, and there won’t be a better opportunity to get better than the draft.

Of those areas needing improvement, one of the biggest concerns is defensive end. The Falcons have failed to get a consistent pass rush throughout the 2013 campaign, and that needs to change moving forward. Osi Umenyiora is past his prime, while new additions such as Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews and Malliciah Goodman aren’t performing up to potential. They need to inject some life into the group if they want to get better in 2014.

Despite their issues at defensive end, the Falcons still have other questions in need of answers. With age and injury becoming big issues at running back, Atlanta could look to add another young player to the mix. Offensive tackle is also a concern with a subpar blocker currently in the starting role. Even defensive tackle must be addressed with three players at the position slated to hit free agency this offseason.

Either way, the Falcons need to make the most of their draft picks in May. The 2014 NFL Draft will offer Atlanta an opportunity to rebuild their roster and address the problems that have cropped up during the season.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what the Falcons could choose to do with their seven current draft picks when the 2014 NFL Draft finally rolls around.

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1st Round: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

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All season long, the Falcons have been without a reliable pass rush. Umenyiora is nearing the end of his career, and youngsters such as Massaquoi, Matthews and Goodman haven’t exactly panned out. With a Top 5 pick, though, they can grab one of the best pass rushers in recent history. Clowney’s drive has come into question this season, but there’s no denying he’s a dynamic talent. If he falls to the Falcons, you have to believe they’d run up to the podium to steal a fearsome pass rusher.

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2nd Round: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor

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As we’ve seen this season, Steven Jackson isn’t a reliable starter moving forward. He still has a little gas in the tank, but is too injury prone to be counted on. Jacquizz Rodgers is an intriguing third-down back, but is too small to be a consistent threat. With Seastrunk in the backfield, the Falcons would have a playmaker who can take pressure off the passing game. Seastrunk has outstanding balance and vision, but will need to improve his pass protection and decision making before he starts in the NFL.

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3rd Round: Sean Hickey, OT, Syracuse

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It’s clear that Lamar Holmes isn’t the man at left tackle for the Falcons. The second-year player has struggled as the starter, but Atlanta doesn’t have many better options after Sam Baker was sent to IR. They need to find a new player to hold down the blindside blocker spot, and that’s where Hickey comes in. While he isn’t a dominant blocker, he does a great job of staying engaged and in front of his opponents. He needs to get stronger at the next level, but has the technique and balance to be a starter.

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4th Round: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia

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At the end of this season, Tony Gonzalez will more than likely head for retirement. That will leave only Chase Coffman – a pending free agent – and rookie Levine Toilolo as the Falcons’ tight ends. That’s why they need to draft a potential contributor. Lynch is a well-rounded tight end who can make plays in the passing game while also serving as a quality blocker. He’s not going to blow you away with athleticism or flash, but he’s a solid prospect with all of the tools to contribute early.

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5th Round: Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State

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With all three of their top defensive tackles scheduled to hit the open market this offseason, the Falcons might soon be rather short at the position. If that’s the case, addressing the issue via the draft might be a smart choice. Barnett is a physical, athletic defensive tackle who has a phenomenal first step for his size. He does play out of control at times and isn’t an exceptional pass rusher, but consistently makes impact plays and has the explosiveness that translates well at the next level.

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6th Round: Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Miss

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Again, the depth at defensive tackle could soon be an issue for the Falcons. Their top three players are headed for free agency, which might force them to go to the well more than once during the draft. With Barnett already aboard, going with Thornton only gives them more options along the interior. The Southern Miss product is a big, powerful player with excellent lower body strength. He consistently blows his blocker into the backfield and shows unexpected athleticism for a player of his size.

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7th Round: Elisha Olabode, FS, TCU

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Even though the Falcons have a solid free safety in Thomas DeCoud, their depth at the position is far from encouraging. The current backup is Kemal Ishmael, a 2013 seventh-round pick who has only seen the field as a special teamer. That’s why taking a flier on a player like Olabode makes sense. The TCU product is an underrated safety, making big plays while using keen awareness and play recognition. He’s undersized, but Olabode definitely has the passion and drive to be a solid NFL contributor.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Content Planner for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.