Up until this point, conversation surrounding the Falcons' Day 1 draft strategy has almost exclusively focused on the top-tier pass rushers (or, if you're a deluded Georgia football fan, Todd Gurley). With a couple of obvious holes remaining on Atlanta's defensive front, nearly every reasonable mock draft out there has the Falcons targeting one of Vic Beasley, Dante Fowler, Shane Ray, Bud Dupree or Randy Gregory.
One position group that has been discussed much less, however, is defensive back. That may begin to change following news that the Falcons are one of several teams to show interest in cornerback Kevin Johnson, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. Most are projecting the Wake Forest product as a first-round draft pick, and Wilson's report indicated that Atlanta has already hosted a private workout for him.
Measuring in at an even 6-foot and 188 pounds at this year's Combine, Johnson has ideal size for an NFL corner and pairs that with exceptional athleticism and strong coverage abilities. His top-notch agility and strong lower body -- he posted excellent marks in the high jump, broad jump, 3-cone and shuttle -- are what set him apart from his peers, and what's more he carries the distinction of never missing a game in college due to injury (he started 41 contests).
There are concerns regarding his prowess as a run defender, but remember that similar things were written about 6-foot, 190-pound Desmond Trufant coming out of college (he's OK at football, I think).The coverage instincts are legitimate, hence all the interest from teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
How sincere is Atlanta's interest in Johnson? It's still hard to see the team forgoing any upper echelon pass rushers. Should other teams snatch up their top two or three targets, however, the Falcons could certainly trade down a few spots and go best player available -- which may be Johnson, in their eyes. And remember that this team is fairly thin at cornerback behind Trufant and Robert Alford.
More than likely, though, this is the team doing its diligence on a first-round prospect and making sure all possible avenues are covered come draft day. Your thoughts on Johnson?