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6 prospects to watch as we await the Falcons first round pick

These players could very well be in play for the first round in Atlanta.

CUSA Championship - Louisiana Tech v Western Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We know roughly where the Falcons are going, positionally, over the first couple of rounds. We just don’t know whether they’ll go pass rusher, guard, or maybe safety.

Will the Falcons definitely take a name on this list? No. Does it seem likely that they will? Absolutely yes.

Derek Rivers

You’ve seen me mocking Derek Rivers to the Falcons for a little while now, and unless we learn something that upsets the natural order in the next few days, my final seven round mock will have the same selection.

Why? Rivers is a player the Falcons have paid keen attention to, he’s got a Vic Beasley-esque skill set that would make him a nice complement for last year’s breakout sack artist, and he has the type of speed, athleticism, physicality and length that Dan Quinn is very obviously looking for. The only hangup is that he’s supposed to go in the second round, but as we know, that’s not going to stop this Falcons team from picking him up at #31 if they covet him. Here’s Charles McDonald on Rivers.

Forrest Lamp

There’s Lamp, and then there’s everyone else. He’s arguably the most complete offensive lineman in this entire class, and he’s very obviously the best option on the interior. If you take him, you’re plugging him in at right guard and potentially moving him to left guard when Andy Levitre moves on. The big question is whether he even makes it to the Falcons’ pick.

If Lamp winds up being the pick at #31, you won’t hear me (or anyone else) complain. He’s as close as you can get to a lock to be a good starter in the NFL, and that’s a comfort at the end of the first round. Here’s Kevin Knight on Lamp.

Malik McDowell

If the Falcons want a defensive tackle who can also be an asset as a pass rusher and a potential force of nature against the run, they’ll nab McDowell if he’s available. Remember that defensive tackle will be a lot thinner after this upcoming season with Dontari Poe and Ra’Shede Hageman hitting free agency, and remember too that for his flaws and question marks, McDowell has the potential to be a true difference maker.

Here’s Charles McDonald on McDowell.

Jordan Willis

Like Rivers, Willis is a #fast and #physical pass rusher with considerable upside. He’s already a capable pass rusher, and while he’ll likely struggle a bit with the transition (as will Rivers, initially), he should be able to step right in and be an asset for the Falcons. I imagine Rivers would be their preference, but Willis would be a very fine consolation prize. Here’s Eric Robinson’s take on him.

Dan Feeney

Perhaps the prototypical zone blocking guard in this class, Feeney is light on his feet and capable in pass protection, but is never going to be the strongest guy on your offensive line. If the Falcons view guard as their biggest need and they think Feeney is the best

I actually prefer Dorian Johnson out of Pitt to Feeney because I view him as a more complete guard, but the Falcons appear to have shown more interest in Feeney, so he’s here. Kevin Knight took a closer look at him recently.

Charles Harris

He doesn’t fit the team’s athletic profile to a tee, but Harris has a career as a capable pass rusher in college, and is one of a handful of such players likely to be available at #31. As Vaughn McClure reported, the Falcons put him through a workout recently, likely trying to determine whether he’s athletic enough to fit with the team. If he is, his production and talent make him a real possibility at the end of the first round.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I view the names here as the most likely potential selections. At guard, you should also keep in mind Dorian Johnson and Cam Robinson, while at pass rusher you’ll want to keep in mind Takkarist McKinley and T.J. Watt. If the team elects to choose a safety—as unlikely as I think that is—Justin Evans, Budda Baker and Obi Melifonwu are the names to watch there.

Ultimately, though, the men on this list are players the Falcons have shown interest in, fit well, and have at least moderate potential to be available when Atlanta picks.

Who is your pick from this list?