One of the worst kept secrets in the NFL these days is the Atlanta Falcons infatuation with South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, and that they’re potentially willing to trade up to the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft in order to secure his rights. I don’t think think they should do that, however.
Yes, the Falcons need a pass rusher. Badly. With the anticipation of playing more odd fronts defensively, the need for an elite edge rusher is even greater. Even considering how transcendent of a talent Clowney really is, I think the Falcons would be forced to give up too much capital in an historically deep draft.
During a regular year, the cost of moving up from the sixth slot to the first is a handsome asking price. In addition to the sixth pick overall, you’d need to give up at least an additional first rounder and probably a second as well. Or a first and two thirds. A combination along those lines.
But this years draft isn’t like most drafts, both in terms of depth of talent throughout the draft and the elite talent at the very top. This year is a sellers market. The asking price will be higher than normal. If Atlanta wants to move up to the first pick in the draft this year, it could be something like what the Washington Redskins gave up to the St. Louis Rams in 2011 (three 1st rounders and a 2nd), and that wasn’t even for the number one pick in the draft.
That’s just far too much capital to give up. If this was a weak draft class, it’d be fine because the value of each pick given up would be less than it is now, in a tremendous class.
Plus, on top of everything mentioned above, we’ve left out the fact that an elite edge rusher might not be their greatest need. A huge need, yes, but you could argue that offensive tackle is even more important, particularly after last years debacle up front. Staying at number six would put the Falcons in tremendous shape to add one of the drafts top offensive tackles.
More than likely Greg Robinson (Auburn), the by and large consensus for top OT in the draft, will be gone by six, but Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Taylor Lewan (Michigan) would be huge additions as well, as both project well to either left or right sides in the NFL.
If Clowney and Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo) are both gone by six (and they will be), take an OT. He’ll give a boost to an atrocious ground game, help keep $113 million dollar investment Matt Ryan upright and healthy, and buy him time to launch those deep balls to WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones. Then in the second round look for someone like Scott Crichton (Oregon State), Jerry Attaochu (Georgia Tech), Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) or Kyle Van Noy (BYU). All are projected to go in that late first, early second round range and all would immediately inject some bite into a currently toothless pass rush.
It will be interesting to see how the free-swinging GM Thomas Dimitroff handles this situation on draft day.