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Falcons land a gifted pass rusher in the SB Nation writers mock draft

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Derek Rivers is a Falcon in this annual SB Nation NFL tradition.

NFL Combine - Day 5 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

From the moment we learned that the Falcons had shown real interest in Youngstown State pass rusher Derek Rivers, I’ve thought there was a strong chance he’d wind up being an option for the Falcons. Originally I thought it would be the second round, but seeing his draft stock rising in the run-up to the draft and the fact that the Falcons are never afraid to go early for players they love, I now think he could be in play at #31.

Enter the annual SB Nation NFL mock draft, where representatives from all 32 team sites select players for their favorite teams. As you might guess, I landed Rivers. The short version of why is that Rivers offers one of the better blends of athleticism, character, and upside out of what was available here, and I personally put the need for a pass rusher higher than a guard. That’s why I passed on Forrest Lamp, which I suspect will be a little bit controversial. Here’s everyone who has been drafted thus far.

For the full writeup and more analysis, check out Dan Kadar at Mocking The Draft. Here’s a reminder about who I’ve wound up with in years past. You’ll notice a heavy bias toward ends and pass rushers over the years, but if the Falcons make the Rivers pick (or land another capable pass rusher), it’ll probably be the last time I do so for a while.

2016: DE Shaq Lawson | S Keanu Neal

2015: DE Randy Gregory | CB/S Eric Rowe

2014: LB Khalil Mack | T Morgan Moses

2013: DE Tank Carradine | CB David Amerson

2012: RB David Wilson

2011: DE/LB Justin Houston | T Marcus Gilbert

2010: LB Sean Weatherspoon

2009: ILB James Laurinitis | S Michael Hamlin

2008: T Jake Long | QB Joe Flacco | DT Kentwan Balmer | CB Tracy Porter | RB Tony Hunt