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Tony Pauline: Falcons eyeing DT, CB, or trade down in first round

Per the super-plugged-in reporter, Thomas Dimitroff now knows he can trade down in the draft.

Atlanta Falcons Practice Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We have spent the last few weeks at the Falcoholic trying to figure out how far up the Falcons will need to trade to land Ed Oliver. We may be on the wrong trail entirely with Thomas Dimitroff rumored to do what he’s never done before: trade down in the first round.

Tony Pauline, the long-time draft analyst and first reporter linking the Falcons to Keanu Neal back in 2016, and reported the Falcons were discussing trading up with the Seahawks in 2017 before trading up with the Seahawks in 2017, has more Falcons news.

And it’s huge, per The Draft Analysts podcast with Pauline and Chris Tripodi.

I’m told that they really want to take a cornerback with the 14th pick but they realize the better value will be at defensive tackle. And that’s the way I expect them to go if they can’t trade down.

Pauline, who linked the Falcons heavily to Da’Ron Payne last season, suggests they still are looking for a tackle that can help win in the trenches. When Payne was drafted, the Falcons decided against drafting for need and went with better value in Calvin Ridley.

Pauline mentions Greedy Williams, Ed Oliver, Christian Wilkins, and Dexter Lawrence as potential fits but does not state the Falcons are actually interested in any of those players. Pauline believed Lawrence could be a Payne-type of big body in the middle and he has received a lot of positive attention this offseason.

There was no mention of a trade up, a defensive end, or offensive lineman. The Falcons could certainly use depth at corner, but a starter only makes sense if they plan to move on from Desmond Trufant’s salary after 2019. He’d save the team $10.75 million if designated as a post-June 1st cut.

Quinn recently identified his top three draft needs as DB, DE, and DT. Pauline’s report is consistent with that statement but provides some additional information on the team’s plans. It is possible the staff expects to miss out on top defensive end prospects by 14 or they like later round players.

If the Falcons succeed in trading down, they will almost certainly keep trading. They currently hold 9 draft picks which is already too many to realistically fit on their 53-man roster.