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ESPN’s Todd McShay has Falcons going DT in his 1st mock draft for 2019

Atlanta looks to Death Valley once again in this mock draft.

ACC Championship - Clemson v Pittsburgh Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

As the old saying goes, it’s never too early for a mock draft.

With the Atlanta Falcons firmly entrenched for a top-five pick at the moment, ESPN’s Todd McShay has offered up his first rumination for the draft process.

In his super-duper early mock, he has Atlanta picking fifth and selecting Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to join the defensive interior.

Here’s his reasoning behind the move.

The Falcons plummeted this season all the way from the playoffs to a potential top pick, and I love the idea of using it on Lawrence, a big run-stopper who can fit in next to Grady Jarrett (if he returns to the Falcons). Atlanta has one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL.

Now, look, before you start crying at work, the odds of Jarrett leaving Atlanta are slim. The team has the money to pay him what he’d like, and worst-case scenario, they can apply the franchise tag. So don’t let that parenthetical scare you.

As for the pick, it makes sense, to a certain degree. The team really could use some help in interior run support, with the absence of Dontari Poe felt aggressively this season. Though, Deadrin Senat could grow into that guy, and with the nonexistent production from the edge, it stands to reason that’d be the smarter selection to make.

Though, McShay’s draft has the team missing on four defensive linemen early with the first four picks (Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrell). Houston’s Ed Oliver also doesn’t go in this top 10. This won’t mimic reality in any way, shape or form, but y’know, it’s a December mock draft, so it doesn’t have to.

In the real thing, there will at least be a quarterback or two taken off the board in the top five, and guys taken at other positions. This is an excellent class for defensive linemen, so Atlanta will get a guy who can contribute quickly. Whether that guy is the key to unlock a long-dormant front four is another story entirely.

For the rest of the NFC South, he’s got the Buccaneers taking lauded LSU CB Greedy Williams at 8 and the Carolina Panthers taking Ole Miss tackle Greg Little at 14. The Saints, if you’ll recall, do not have a first-round pick this year after trading up to select Marcus Davenport in 2018.

Those would be two cornerstone pieces for those franchises, so let’s hope they’re not nearly that lucky once April rolls around.

The draft isn’t for a while, but here’s a sample of how something could transpire once we get there. We’ll, no doubt, have plenty more mock drafts to sort through from here until then.