5 Potential 1st-Round Picks for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2014 NFL Draft
Atlanta Falcons Possible 2014 NFL Draft First-Round Selections
To say that the Atlanta Falcons had an abysmal season would be an understatement, but with losing comes the excitement of drafting the next potential superstar for your particular franchise. In this case, the Falcons have many options that they can choose from in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Falcons currently hold the No. 6 overall pick for the 2014 draft, and they have many areas of concern that they need to address throughout every round, but we will focus solely on the first-round pick that the Falcons currently have and the problems they need to fix.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons' offensive line was subpar at best. Sure, they were riddled with a few injuries here and there, but having Lamar Holmes at left tackle and a rookie from a Division-II school in Ryan Schraeder just won’t cut it. Peter Konz struggled at center after moving from guard to replace the retired Todd McClure. Offensive line is a major concern, especially after surrendering nine sacks to the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.
The defensive front is not much better either. The Falcons desperately need a pass rusher as an aging Osi Umenyiora and a handful of mid- and late-round picks over the years are not getting the job done. The defensive interior is also getting pushed off the ball with a once again aging player in Jonathon Babineaux and former first-rounder Peria Jerry.
With as many concerns and weaknesses as Atlanta has, it is hard to imagine that the Falcons were nearly in the Super Bowl in 2013 and even harder to imagine them getting back, but this year’s draft can really lift the Falcons to where they want to soar as long as they can draft one of the following players with their first overall pick.
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Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
As a senior this past season at Michigan, Taylor Lewan shined as he earned all-American honors for the second straight season. At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, Lewan has great mobility and quickness to go along with fantastic strength and leverage to be a starting tackle in the NFL.
The Falcons desperately need help on the offensive front, but I do not think they should take Lewan with their first pick at No. 6 overall. The only option for the Falcons to take Lewan would be to trade back to the mid- to-late first-round and garner more draft picks in other rounds and take Lewan later if he is still available.
Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn
Dee Ford is a player who has earned his way into the first round with his play not only throughout his senior season at Auburn, but particularly against Florida State in the National Championship Game and in the Senior Bowl where he recorded two sacks and a pass breakup.
Ford has exceptional speed off the edge with a 4.5 40-yard dash time, but may fly under the radar due to his lack of height to play the defensive end position in the NFL as he stands at just 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds. The second-team all-SEC performer in 2013 is one of the most explosive edge rushers in this draft, and that is saying a lot with the type of talent that will be entering the league this year.
I do, however, feel the same way about Ford as I did about Lewan in the fact that the Falcons should not take him with the No. 6 overall pick. If the opportunity arises to where the Falcons do not like what is available at No. 6, then they may have the option to gain more draft picks by falling back in the first round and finding a player like Ford in the late first round.
Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
After spending the first two seasons at UCLA as a running back that was only featured in special packages, Anthony Barr made the switch to linebacker before the 2012 season and the rest is history for the young man.
Barr experienced back-to-back all-American seasons in Westwood, and is now projected as one of the top picks in the 2014 NFL Draft and for great reason. The 6-foot-4, 248-pound outside linebacker is as athletic as they come in this draft, and he would be an excellent addition to the Atlanta Falcons. Barr brings great athleticism and ball skills in the pass defense, while also possessing 4.4 40-yard dash speed to come off the edge in pass rushing situations like he did this past season when he recorded 10 sacks for the Bruins.
Depending on who is available at the time of the Falcons selection, Barr would be a no-brainer if he were still on the board.
Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
I mentioned earlier that the Falcons needed help badly on the offensive line, and while Taylor Lewan would be a nice choice to come in and play tackle, Greg Robinson would be a home-run draft pick for the Falcons if he were available at No. 6.
One of the worries about Robinson is that he is so young, just a redshirt sophomore this past season at Auburn, and it would be difficult to ask a kid that has only two years of college playing experience to come into the NFL and be an immediate impact and franchise left tackle for the future.
Robinson may be young, but he does not play like it. He has good footwork and tremendous strength, especially in the running game, which would help the Falcons out enormously. I know that it is not the flashy type of draft pick, but if Robinson is on the board at No. 6, the Falcons need to draft him.
Jadaveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
Now I said drafting Greg Robinson would be a home run, but if the Atlanta Falcons somehow find themselves on the clock with Jadaveon Clowney still on the board, then taking him with the sixth overall pick would be a grand slam.
Clowney is undoubtedly one of the best pure athletes in this year's draft and rightfully so. He has tremendous quickness, strength and athleticism to make offensive lineman look silly. Yes, Clowney did take a ton of criticism for his lack of effort this past season, and quite frankly it was probably deserved to an extent; however, Clowney saw what happened to his former South Carolina teammate Marcus Lattimore and didn't want that to happen to him. Can you really blame the kid?
I think Clowney will be one heck of an NFL player, and he will be able to provide the Falcons with an immediate impact at the defensive end position that they have been needing for years. If Clowney is there, the Falcons will take him, but that is a big "if."