The Falcons have been in desperate need for a pass rusher for the last five years, if not multiple decades. The team has been widely linked to every top pass rushers: Vic Beasley, Dante Fowler, Jr., Randy Gregory, Alvin Dupree, and Shane Ray.
The draft remains pretty fluid, but the Falcons are likely to have a shot at between two to four of those players. This seemed like good news until Gregory, arguably one of the best of the bunch, announced he failed his combine drug test. It was only a month ago when draft guru Greg Cosell called Gregory "probably" a better prospect than Jadeveon Clowney.
The Falcons have shied away players with drug pasts, even players with infractions as mundane as drug tests showing marijuana usage. Ordinarily the Falcons would (presumably) drop a player far down, if not completely off, of their draft board.
Enter new head coach Dan Quinn, more powerful Scott Pioli, a new NFL drug policy lessening the punishment for marijuana, and a significantly shorter leash for Thomas Dimitroff.
A landing spot for Randy Gregory: One scout noted his talent is "special." Keep an eye on #Falcons at 8. ATL is open to edgier players now.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 26, 2015
This should be great news. The Falcons have certainly had the luxury of avoiding players with risky character during their winning years. However, after two years of crippling disappointment and questionable personnel decisions, Dimitroff will need to take accept a few more players that present higher upside with some character risk.
Gregory would likely fit the mold as an athletic LEO player that can drop into coverage and be an explosive pass rusher. Long-term the Falcons should be a more talented team if they can accept players with small transgressions, even when they are so foolish to fail a drug test they know is coming from months away.