Well, the smoke continues to bellow for the Atlanta Falcons’ interest in Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne.
Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline has reported that the Falcons have an eye for Payne over presumed target, Florida DT Taven Bryan, and would have to consider the hop up to get him.
While everyone, including ourselves, has mocked Taven Bryan to the Atlanta Falcons, I’m told the player they are really targeting is Da’Ron Payne. The feeling is that Payne is much stouter at the point than Bryan, an opinion we completely agree with. I have gone on record that Payne is one of my favorite defensive players in this draft and is ridiculously underrated. The Falcons would likely have to trade up for Payne, and two teams ahead of them looking to move down are the Seattle Seahawks and the Baltimore Ravens.
This follows in line with D. Orlando Ledbetter’s report Wednesday about the Falcons’ true interest in Payne, and their willingness to do what’s necessary to get him.
Pauline’s track record with Falcons draft news has been pretty strong as of late — he called the team’s interest in a trade up with Seattle (though, for one DE Charles Harris out of Mizzou), and was one of the first to float the team’s interest in Florida S Keanu Neal.
Again, this report might indicate where Atlanta’s head is at, but it doesn’t cement down firm plans. Harris wound up going higher than Seattle’s pick, so perhaps if that’s who Atlanta did want, he was just out of reach.
But, also keep in mind, some folks popped in the idea Atlanta was interested in taking TE Evan Engram this time last year, too, so there’s going to be a lot of noise going into tonight’s pick.
Some analysts, like The MMQB’s Albert Breer and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, still peg Bryan as a strong possibility. He’s someone who would not likely come with the draft costs of a Payne. Breer and Miller mention two alternative positions to eye — the first says cornerback is a possibility (and throws out Iowa’s Josh Jackson and Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver as logical fits), and the latter name checks guard as a position the team reportedly likes (though, he said that could flow into Round 2).
Though, don’t assume the former Florida Gator is a lock to be around when Atlanta picks. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, another sound Falcons source, mentioned that even Bryan might require a trade up to obtain tonight.
So, perhaps Payne is the hope, but so often in the draft process, the hope doesn’t become the pick. Washington is a team that poses a strong likelihood to go defensive tackle early, and if the Oakland Raiders trade down, they could, as well. Payne’s draft potentials kick in around when Washington picks, and Breer mentioned them as a potential suitor. Though, Vita Vea, the draft’s top defensive tackle prospect, will no doubt go before Payne, and could factor in to one of those teams, too.
We’ll know tonight who Atlanta drafts (unless they shock everyone and trade out of the first round), but we do have an idea of how this could go.
Da’ron Payne seems to be the team’s hope, while Taven Bryan, the cornerbacks and maybe even a guard, all seem like picks the team wouldn’t mind making.