It’s no secret that the Falcons need a defensive tackle to pair with Grady Jarrett, arguably more than they need anything else. Whether they’ll address that need at #26 or later, they simply can’t afford to come out of this draft class without another promising starter at the position, and it’s really just a question of who they’ll end up with.
One of my favorite prospects in this class is also one of the top options. Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne didn’t have the best track record of production in college, but he has a ton of evident talent and was brilliant in the title game. The Falcons are at least doing their due diligence on him, as you’d expect, and they’ll be hosting him for a visit today.
The question with Payne isn’t whether the Falcons would be interested—presumably they have a level of interest in Payne, Washington’s Vita Vea, Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, Stanford’s Harrison Phillips and Florida’s Taven Bryan, among others—but whether he’ll even be there for the team to consider. This is a deep, loaded defensive tackle class, but there are DT-needy teams dotting the top 25, and it’s conceivable that all of those guys (except maybe Phillips) could be gone at #26. The Falcons may need to trade up if they really want Payne, but hopefully this visit will further help them determine whether that will be worth it.
Defensive tackle remains the odds-on favorite first round pick for Atlanta, whether it’s Payne or anyone else. We’re almost to the draft, friends.