We don’t know who the Atlanta Falcons will draft. What we do know is that we need to pay attention to those players they deem worthy of being put through private workouts, particularly if those are players who are arriving in the NFL at positions of need.
Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon told me he had a meeting upcoming with the Falcons. That... https://t.co/0oKNyc4xOD pic.twitter.com/Qr0qNbSyBJ— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 16, 2017
Falcons coach Dan Quinn put edge-rusher Derek Rivers of Youngstown State through a private workout Thursday... https://t.co/ElibuQYExp— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 17, 2017
Nobody nailed more of Atlanta’s 2016 draft picks than Vaughn McClure (though I did pretty well, for a change), so you should pay attention when he’s singling players out, as he’s doing here. More to the point, the Falcons setting up private
Rivers is an intriguing player. He’s a little on the smallish side at under 250 pounds, but he’s also a plus athlete and an aggressive player who has an excellent three cone time, and the length that Quinn loves. Rivers has the upside to be Vic Beasley’s complement and a pass rushing force on the outside, and while it might take him some time, bulking up and coaching to get there, his particular athletic profile and college production makes it clear why the Falcons like him.
Kpassagnon isn’t the same caliber of edge player that Rivers is, and he’s a little raw at the moment. He has the length, strength, and athleticism to be a force at the next level, though, and most projections have him being able to play both defensive end and defensive tackle, a hybrid role that Dan Quinn clearly covets. With Adrian Clayborn and Courtney Upshaw both hitting free agency after this year, Kpassagnon is a potential high-caliber replacement.
The Falcons could make either of these players their first or second round pick, both because they fit and because Atlanta’s shown no fear of going for their preferred player earlier than draft experts are comfortable with. You should remember these names as we wind our way to April.