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2015 NFL Draft: Falcons to host top prospect Dante Fowler Jr. Sunday

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Fowler will definitely be in play with the #8 pick, should he make it that far.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's no great secret that the Falcons will strongly consider a pass rusher with the #8 pick in the draft. If Dante Fowler lasts until that selection, he'll likely be in play.

The team is hosting Fowler for a visit this Sunday with an eye on vetting him ahead of the draft. Dan Quinn is already familiar with Fowler from his days as Florida's defensive coordinator, and the 6'3", 261 pound jack-of-all-trades defender definitely brings impressive production, physicality and athleticism with him to the NFL. Last season he had 15 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hurries and 8.5 sacks, stats that were aided by his terrific explosion off the snap and ability to make the kind of quick cuts in both pursuit and coverage that would make Kyle Shanahan consider moving him to running back. He is, in short, a top prospect for a reason.

Fowler's stock is a little bit difficult to suss out, even so, though he's likely to go in the top 10-15 picks. He has enormous potential, he may be the most complete player out of the top options available (which includes Randy Gregory, Vic Beasley, Bud Dupree and Shane Ray), and he's got the existing ties to Dan Quinn that make that connection easy to root for. He may, however, be one of the least effective pass rushers out of the aforementioned group initially, and some scouts are concerned he'll never be a premier pass rusher, even if he's an impactful defender otherwise.

Set aside those concerns and look at the complete player, and it's easy to accept the idea that Fowler would be a nice fit for the fast, physical defense Quinn is putting together. If he manages to get past the Jaguars (who have been linked to him for weeks) and some of the other defense-needy teams in front of the falcons, he'd be a strong bet to be drafted.

Your thoughts on Fowler as a prospect?