By Dan Schneier @PFF_DanSc on April 17, 2014
The Falcons want to get bigger and stronger, but at the same time they have needs to fill. Safety and offensive tackle were not addressed in free agency, and it seems likely that they will target these positions in the draft. Having said that, we can take a look at all of their pre-draft visits and workouts to get an idea of the players they have interest in. The following five players fit all three of the criteria mentioned above.
The Towson product has been receiving a lot of draft buzz recently, and for good reason. He displays incredible lateral agility and explosion, which is often the most telling trait in a successful running back. Plenty of teams sent scouts to his pro day, but the Falcons have taken it one step further. They have a visit planned for West next week. With Steven Jackson inching closer towards retirement, the team could look to West as his successor.
As the Falcons transition to a bigger defense, they are reportedly also transitioning to more 3-4 defensive looks. Right now, their best edge rushers are Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Bierman. Umenyiora led the team in sacks by default, but he is on the wrong side of 30. Bierman is recovering from injury. The Falcons have met with Van Noy, and they could look to take him with their second-round pick.
The Falcons are likely to add an edge rusher in the first three rounds of the draft, and Attochu fits the billing. He is a fast riser up the draft board due to his versatility and physical build. The Falcons have also hosted him for a pre-draft visit. In fact, he is one of five edge rushers they have hosted who are all projected to go around their second-round pick. One can infer that they see value from the edge rushers in the early second round
The Falcons desperately need a safety after releasing longtime starter Thomas DeCoud and failing to steal Rafael Bush from the Saints. Safety is always a tricky position to draft, and I can name countless second and third round busts over the last five drafts. Clinton-Dix is a sure thing and possesses the range and in the box ability to be a Pro Bowl safety. He would be a reach at No. 6, but don't rule out the possibility of trading down.
It's no secret that the Falcons are looking for a new offensive tackle. Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, their two starting tackles graded out as two of the 10 worst in the entire league at their position. The Falcons met with Matthews early on in the process when he was considered likely to be gone by their pick. Now Greg Robinson has received all the buzz, and it seems possible Matthews will be available.
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