With the upcoming NFL Draft less than a month away, there are plenty of storylines to analyze and various situations that could happen as teams are trying to better their rosters through this year’s draft class. Many questions have surrounded what are arguably two of the most exciting players to play college football in Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, and where they will land as they begin their professional careers.
The Atlanta Falcons are not in need of a quarterback, but the Falcons should work some of their draft magic to try and get a chance to draft a player as dynamic as Clowney. Atlanta is currently picking sixth overall in this year’s draft, and in their current spot they will have virtually no chance to get their hands on Clowney.
It was no mystery that both Atlanta’s offensive and defensive lines were a non-factor in their 2013 campaign. The Falcons’ have made it a point to address those two glaring issues through free agency and will use the draft to elevate their play in the trenches.
After finishing last in third-down defense and second-to-last in run defense, Atlanta could use some help along the interior and outer edges of their defensive line. Atlanta has already signed defensive tackle Paul Soliai from Miami and defensive end Tyson Jackson from Kansas City in free agency. Soliai played for current Falcons Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan when Miami ranked third against the run and seventh in third-down defense.
Moving up in the draft to make a run at Clowney could also be very beneficial to Atlanta due to their apparent move to a 3-4 base defense. Mike Nolan ran a 3-4 base defense in Miami and has appeared to be transitioning the Falcons that way through the player personnel he and the front office have brought in. Clowney could be a nice fit in the 3-4 system since there have been some questions on his size and ability to be just as dominant of a defensive end in the NFL as he was in college.
Having Clowney as a hybrid type player where he lines up at the fourth linebacker position to where he can be in an open stance to freely rush the quarterback could create a lot more playmaking along Atlanta’s defensive front.
It is not a guarantee that Atlanta could move up high enough to draft Clowney if the Houston Texans decide to draft him with the first overall pick, but if they do move up they would also allow themselves a chance to draft who many are saying is the second best player in the draft; Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
Robinson has been slated in several mock drafts to go number two overall to the St. Louis Rams, but if Atlanta could make a move with the Rams or even slide into the number three spot, they would have a much better chance of nabbing Robinson.
Greg Robinson has major upside and is very well known for his ability to block in the running game; an area that Atlanta could use some major improvements. Robinson helped pave the way for Auburn as their high flying offense led them all the way to play Florida State in last season’s BCS National Championship game.
Robinson would make an immediate impact and provide Atlanta with an instant improvement as they try to create more running lanes for Steven Jackson and help keep Matt Ryan upright.
It will be a challenge for Atlanta to draft either of these players where they currently sit in the draft order, but if they can somehow move up in the draft they will be given an excellent chance to draft one of the two best players in this year’s draft class.