Now none of us can accurately predict what players any team in the draft are going to select, but this is my personal belief of how our draft SHOULD play out.
Now many people are not fans of the idea of trading multiple selections to move up to the first pick, but Clowney is worth it. Plain and simple. The Falcons haven't had a young stud pass rusher since they traded to get John Abraham from the Jets. Clowney has the potential to be better than Abraham was for us.
As for the compensation? Like Bill Polian said I believe it will take three selection to acquire Clowney. Thomas Dimitroff has always gotten relatively good deals on trade ups and I don't believe this year will be any different.
The deal will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. I believe the Falcons will send the #6 overall pick in this year's draft along with this year's third rounder in addition to next year's second round pick for the rights to the first overall pick this year, along with a late round selection Houston will probably throw in to even up the deal a little bit.
This is a trade that we can live with and it will not cripple the Falcons, even if for some god forbidden reason, Clowney does not perform as expected.
Even after the trade up for Clowney, I do not believe the Falcons will be done wheeling and dealing on the first day of the draft. The Falcons still have a monstrous hole at the safety position after releasing Thomas DeCoud and failing to adequately replace him during free agency.
I believe the perfect solution would be Calvin Pryor FS out of Louisville.If he gets past the Ravens at 17 he has a chance to fall to the mid to late twenties. This is where I believe the Falcons will call up the always ready to trade down Patriots at #29.
In exchange for the Patriots first round selection the Falcons will give up their second round selection along with their non-compensatory fourth round selection for the rights to draft Pryor and shore up not only the FS position, but the entire defense.
With the drafting of Clowney and Pryor, along with the defensive moves made in the offseason to help transition to more 3-4 looks, the Falcons will have a formidable defense to go along with their explosive offense.
As for the rest of the draft I will not attempt to predict because no fan knows who their team will select in the later rounds. Our front office has a knack for choosing players that weren't on fan's radar anyway. I will say this though.
With our compensatory fourth round pick I believe the Falcons should target a RB because at that point in the draft you can still find a potential starter or at least a player that can immediately contribute.
In the fifth we should begin looking for potential OL help or a receiver that can play the slot, i'm still not a fan of Harry Douglas. Whichever we decided to not address in the fifth should get serious consideration in the sixth.
In the seventh round I believe the Falcons should use one of their picks to select J.C. Copeland FB from LSU. As a current student that got to watch him play, Copeland just has a physical nonstop motor that fans love. He can help in the run game and pass blocking. This dude is a bowling ball.
Now I know there that a few of you are already preparing to file your complaints in the comment box below about a few things.
1. What about the major need at OT? While I do agree the Falcons do have a need for an upgrade at OT I simply do not find it as big of a need as everybody is trying to make it seem for a couple of reasons.
The first being that I believe the OL is the one unit of a football team that coaching can drastically change. It's a technical position and a lot of the times bad offensive lineman aren't lacking talent, their lacking coaching. Mike Tice is one of the best in the business and I believe he will get good, if not great results from our current OL.
Many people are forgetting that Michael Johnson was slated to be our starting RT before he went down with an injury, I believe he is more than capable of handling the job and is expected to return fully healthy.
Contrary to popular belief our OL wasn't as bad as it looked last year, with Julio out for the season and a hurt Roddy White, Harry Douglas was our number one receiver. Any OL is going to give up sacks with the QB waiting for a third string WR and a 37 year old TE to consistently get open.
Second, teams have proven before that you can make it to the Superbowl without an elite OL. Last year Seattle did not have the most dominating OL in the NFL but is was capable enough to give Russell Wilson time to make plays. For goodness sake the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Superbowl with an atrocious OL. I am not a fan of spending high selections on OL, you can find OL help later in the draft.
2. We're trading too many picks!
Yes, at first glance it does look like we are "mortgaging our future" for selections this year, but when will the Falcons be in this position again? Even the most pessimistic fans do not expect Atlanta to be selecting in the top 10 of every round again next year.
This is still pretty much the same team that was a play away from the Superbowl with the addition of some better, younger players like Desmond Trufant. The Falcons might not be one player away from a Superbowl, but they are potentially a couple of players away from competing for one.
I much rather the Falcons front office trade away uncertain, future picks for ones in the first round of what is regarded as one of the best draft classes in recent memory.
"What about depth? We only won four games last year because we didn't have depth from the Julio trade!"
Everybody is complaining that we need more depth, which is simply ridiculous to me. Yes having players that can step in for the team in case of injury is important, but you don't win championships because you have the most talented backup linebacker in the league, you win championships for having the most talented players that you expect to start for your team.
Last year was an anomaly, the Falcons were bitten by the injury bug it happens sometimes, but that doesn't mean you pass up on acquiring potential franchise players to you have picks in the later rounds to select career backups and marginal talent. I personally much rather have two elite athletes on defense, than serviceable players just to add depth.
If the draft plays out this way for the Falcons I believe that fans would be happy with the product that gets put out on the field in 2014.