By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on March 14, 2014
The Atlanta Falcons have made some great sides on the defensive line during the 2014 NFL free agency, while they also have made some additions to the offensive line. With that being said, it shouldn’t change what the Falcons have planned for the sixth overall selection in the NFL Draft. The reality is quarterback Matt Ryan needs to be protected otherwise Atlanta isn’t going anywhere. Check out the updated first round scenarios for the Falcons.
Atlanta would be delighted to get a pass rusher in the draft. In fact, they are still holding out hope to trade up for Jadeveon Clowney. Even though outside linebacker Anthony Barr would be a great addition, the Falcons need to focus on more dire needs. Regardless, Barr is explosive off the edge and very fast. He has the ability to rack up sacks like nobody’s business and his raw athleticism should allow him to do that at the next level.
The Falcons’ primary need in the first round will be offensive tackle. Taylor Lewan is considered to be the third best offensive tackle on the board and should be available when Atlanta picks. He has an aggressive style of play and is strong enough to handle any defender. He should be able to handle left tackle in the NFL due to his large frame and long arms.
Another pass rusher the Falcons should consider is Khalil Mack. The outside linebacker has the potential to be an immediate difference maker in the pass-rush game, while he also has the ability to drop back into coverage. His versatility makes him a very dangerous threat on the defensive side of the ball, one that opposing offenses will struggle with.
Atlanta’s best bet with the No. 6 pick is to bolster the offensive line, a project they have already begun in free agency. The idea is to have a solid wall to allow Ryan to make plays and lead the Falcons to victory. Matthews is polished, quick off the snap and has strong arms. He has the ideal build, strength and athleticism to play left tackle, which is something the Falcons want to hear.
Matthews may be the better choice right out of the gate, but Greg Robinson has far more upside. The dominant run blocker will create massive holes for Atlanta’s run game to flourish. Their best bet is to have him start at right tackle and then move him to left tackle down the road when he uses his valuable experience to improve his pass protection. Putting Robinson and free agent guard Jon Asamoah together would be a devastating force.
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