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The Falcons penalty for artificial crowd noise could be worse than we thought

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The NFL hasn't decided what the punishment will be for the Falcons pumping in crowd noise, but the latest rumors are not encouraging about how severe their penalty might be.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is going to punish the Atlanta Falcons for using artificial crowd noise over the past two seasons, and the latest rumors suggest the penalty could be worse than we initially anticipated. Atlanta could be looking at losing a second or third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Talk.

Mike Florio writes that the rumors around the NFL Combine suggest the Falcons will lose a pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. We haven't heard anything from the league about the ongoing investigation, but it doesn't look good for Atlanta right now.

If it's a second-day pick, it wouldn't be a surprise. As cheating goes, attempting to disrupt the ability of the opposing offense to communicate seems to be a pretty big deal. Given that it wasn't a one-time thing but a two-year pattern tends to call for an even more significant punishment.

When the story first broke, the discussion about a penalty immediately turned to the loss of draft picks. While the team was likely hoping to only give up a pick from Day 3, the fact that they used artificial crowd noise over two seasons doesn't give us a ton of optimism.

Florio also said an announcement about the Falcons punishment could come on Friday. We'll keep an eye out for an official ruling. Hopefully this is just him speculating. Losing a second or third-round pick would be huge for a team that has multiple needs to address on both sides of the ball.