This week's mailbag is here. I took to Twitter and the comments here to solicit questions, which I will then answer. In case any of you were unaware what a mailbag was.
As you might imagine, the draft is on everyone's minds. I know we're all incredibly sick of the speculation—it keeps the lights on, but I'm going cross-eyed myself—but we're in the home stretch. Just survive a week.
@TheFalcoholic do you think there's anyone we would trade up for other than Clowney? particularly Robinson or Mack?— Ben Bullock (@ben_bullock) April 29, 2014
I wouldn't rule either of those picks out, but I consider them significantly less likely than Clowney. In regards to Mack, I do believe the Falcons view Clowney as the better prospect, so unless they just have absolutely no shot at Clowney, I can't see them seriously considering a jump for Mack. I believe there are teams picking at #3 and #4 who would snap up Mack if they had the chance, meaning the Falcons would have to jump higher than they'd like to for him.
Robinson's an intriguing option, and there's reason to believe the Falcons view him as the best tackle in this draft class. Again, though, Robinson looks like a strong possibility for the Rams at #2, so the Falcons would have to overpay or go all the way to #1 to get him, and I don't think they'll do that.
Clowney is the most logical trade-up candidate given the Falcons' heavy interest in him up to this point. My opinion, but I feel pretty strongly about it.
@TheFalcoholic FOR DAVE: Do you think the Falcons will trade up for Clowney?— Bonnie Bowman (@Bonnie311) April 29, 2014
Here's the logical follow-up question I was waiting for. My answer hasn't changed since the last time I gave it: If the Falcons can get a good deal, I do think they'll go get Clowney at #1 overall. If not, I think they'll be content to stay where they are and see which tackle or pass rusher falls to them. They'll get a quality player either way. Contrary to my reputation for putting on slow jazz records at the mere thought of Clowney, I'll be happy with a range of outcomes. I'm just going off of likelihood at this point.
Just a week ago I said with some confidence that the Falcons wouldn't go to #1, based on what the Texans were reportedly asking for. Now? There appears to be a lack of suitors for that top pick per multiple reports and the Falcons are giving off strong signals that they're exploring the possibility while trying to stick to a semi-reasonable price, and if that's the case, the Falcons can likely get this done without sacrificing #37 this year. I imagine the second round pick in a deep draft would be a sticking point. If I'm reading the tea leaves right, yeah, they're going up for Clowney.
AtlantaStu: Do the Falcons think Johnson and/or Holmes can be a solid OT opening day this year?
I don't know if the Falcons are going to shop players on draft day or not, but anywhere you find an aging veteran who may not fit in the team's plans going forward, you'll find a possible trade.
If the Falcons do move around on draft day to get the guys they want, you could certainly see a Osi Umenyiora, Harry Douglas or someone of that ilk heading out to help the Falcons pick up a late round pick. You're not likely to get much more than that, however, and any package built around those guys or even dangling them as a throw-in for a trade in the first three rounds isn't going to get much traction with NFL teams. I imagine you'll see most everyone stay put through the three days of the draft, if not everyone.
MrKumbi: If the Falcons trade up for Clowney which position of need gets moved to the backburner?
MrKumbi's question was a bit longer than that, but I decided to tackle its essence. I am an essence tackler.
The obvious answer is tackle. Unless you grab one in the first or second round, you might as well wait to get a project you like later to add to the long list of projects already on this current roster. The Falcons could trade back up into the late first or stay in the second and try to get their mitts on a tackle, but if they view safety as a legitimate need—and I believe they do—tackle might be the position that waits.
I'm not saying I agree with that decision, mind you.
@thefalcoholic how has our offseason compared to our nfc south compatriots? have we done enough to get out of the basement?— Ameesh Kapoor (@tupakapoor) April 29, 2014
I can't answer that one with any accuracy until after the draft, to be honest. I think by addressing the run defense, adding some depth at corner and adding a dynamic returner, the Falcons have taken some small but important strides. Unless they add pieces at safety, in the pass rush and at linebacker, in particular, I don't know if it'll be enough to do more than catapult them by one team in the division, and here I am thinking of the Panthers.
The Buccaneers are clearly better but currently lack a top-flight quarterback. The Saints look very good again, and the less said about that, the better.
grendelg: Is the draft here yet?
Check back in a week for the next edition of the mailbag, right before the 2014 NFL Draft.