The Atlanta Falcons have a chance to bolster the roster today. What we don't know is how they will choose to do so, but this is our best attempt to sort through the possible scenarios.
Bear in mind that I've chosen only to engage with what I think are the most plausible scenarios for the first round, which means the Falcons are not trading to #1 to get Jake Matthews, because that would be ridiculous. If you feel like we've missed one, please do cover it in the comments.
Scenario #1: The Trade To #1 For Jadeveon Clowney
This is wholly contingent on the Houston Texans accepting the Falcons' offer. The talks are real, they're ongoing and the Falcons would take Clowney if they moved to #1. I'm not saying "I think" because it's true.
The question surrounding this scenario is what the Texans are willing to accept and whether they'll legitimately be satisfied with Clowney at #1. If they will be happy to get him, their price is likely going to be too high for the Falcons to stomach and the deal will fall apart. If they're desperate to get out of #1 because of internal disagreement about the pick or because their target will be there at #6, then I firmly believe you'll see them buckle at the last possible moment, giving the Falcons the #1 pick in exchange for...well, that's what we don't know. I believe it'll start with #6 and a future first, but there are rumors the price is already dropping:
I still believe the asking price for the 1st overall pick will drop closer we get. ATL want to keep '14 2nd rnd pick but plenty of options..— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 7, 2014
Would not be surprised at all if ultimately a 2015 1st round pick and a 2014 3rd is enough to go from 6th to 1st. Stay tuned— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 7, 2014
The Falcons come out of that deal likely missing at least one draft pick this season, but with arguably the best player in this draft and a potentially tremendous upgrade to the pass rush. They'll need to address safety, tackle or both after this.
Scenario #2: The Falcons Trade Up For Khalil Mack or Greg Robinson
This one's more fluid. If the Falcons legitimately can't work out a deal for #1 or they believe Houston is being unreasonable. There's a decent chance that while we have a list of 5-7 players we'd be happy with at #6, the Falcons' list is smaller. If my hunch is correct, the Falcons won't quit trying to move up if they miss out on Clowney.
In this scenario, I have to believe Mack and Robinson are the likeliest targets, and that the Falcons will look to go to #2-#4, depending on who they want and who is threatening to move up. I think you'll have to go by Oakland at #5 to have a shot at Robinson, if he's even still there, and likely higher for Mack.
What's a fair price? That'll depend on the trade partner, but I have to believe anyone of those three teams would be only too happy to pick up an extra pick this year in exchange for the right to drop a couple of spots, and the Falcons' proximity to the top five would make them a more attractive partner than, say, Buffalo at #9.
I don't believe the Falcons will feel they need to trade up for Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan or Anthony Barr, hence why I've identified Mack and Robinson as trade-up targets.
Scenario #3: The Falcons Stay At #6
I'm starting to view this as the least likely scenario. With all the chaos and the chance that the Falcons' true top targets will be gone by this pick, moving up or even moving down might make sense.
If the Falcons do stay at #6, I remain convinced the pick is a tackle, whether that's Lewan or Matthews. It's the smart, safe pick, there's likely to be one of the three top tackles available there and the Falcons can always scratch their trading up itch in a later round if there's a player they love. If you don't hear a peep from the Falcons until they're on the clock here, expect a tackle.
Scenario #4: The Falcons Trade Down For Moses, Pryor, Martin and/or Ford
I've felt trading down was a dubious possibility for much of this process, and I wouldn't say I consider it particularly likely now.
That said, it's a scenario that will be on the table if the Falcons don't trade up and don't like the way the first five picks are going. I'd expect the Falcons to try to get out of the first ten or so picks entirely in that scenario—yes, even though Dimitroff said he's comfortable in the top ten—with an eye on picking up enough picks to wind up with two first rounders. If that happens, you'll likely be looking at some combination of Morgan Moses, Calvin Pryor, Zach Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence and/or Dee Ford. In this scenario, the Falcons will look to solve two needs in the first round.
I imagine some of you are drooling over that one, and I can understand why. I just wouldn't bank on it.
Talk about these scenarios in the comments, if you would. The NFL Draft is just hours away.