Tony Pauline seems to have his finger on the pulse of draft rumors this time of year, and ESPN’s Vaughn McClure is a pretty reliable reporter. When they both start talking about the Falcons trading up at the same time, it’s worth noting, because they both started talking about Keanu Neal about this time last year.
Atlanta’s desire for a pass rusher is natural and makes sense. D. Orlando Ledbetter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been beating the trade up drum for a little bit now, McClure landed a piece this morning talking about the Falcons potentially moving up for Haason Reddick, and now Pauline is suggesting an oddly specific scenario in which the Falcons would move up to #26 and surrender their 4th round choice for Charles Harris, if he’s available. Either Flowery Branch is leaky or it’s leaky like a fox.
Harris doesn’t fit the profile of the uber-athletic pass rusher Dan Quinn and company seem to favor, but he was a productive player at Missouri and still has a ton of untapped upside. Then again, you could say the same thing (minus the athleticism concerns) about the likes of Reddick, Derek Rivers, and Jordan Willis, and the Falcons might not need to trade up for the last two names on that list. Color me suspicious that Atlanta’s very specific draft plans are seeping out into the public eye at the moment.
The Falcons have almost certainly explored trades up with multiple teams to this point, however, and all of these scenarios bear monitoring. This one’s particularly appealing—minus Harris, who isn’t my favorite prospect on this list—because the cost is relatively reasonable and the Falcons land a position so many fans want. We’ve only got two days left to endure before we find out how much of this is smoke and how much is actual fire.