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NFL Draft rumors: If Falcons move up, cornerback is the likely target

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure has an in-depth piece on where this organization might be going later this week.

Houston Texans v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft so close to happening, all that’s really left to do is try to figure out where the Falcons might be going. That’s a difficult task in a normal year—nobody had Chris Lindstrom going at #14 last year—but it’s nigh impossible when Thomas Dimtiroff is cooped up at home and getting wild ideas.

Nonetheless, it’s a worthy pursuit. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure has taken the latest swing at the piñata, and his report is an interesting look at how the team might be approaching their biggest needs in the first round.

The target for a trade up appears to be a cornerback.

Sources told ESPN the team has had communication with top cornerback prospects Jeff Okudah from Ohio State, CJ Henderson from Florida and A.J. Terrell from Clemson, with Okudah and Henderson both projected to go higher than the Falcons’ current draft slot. Henderson “talked to the entire organization” in his recent video chat with the team. Okudah is the consensus best cornerback in the group. The Falcons need an immediate starter after releasing former first-round corner Desmond Trufant.

My frustration with the team’s approach is that the release of Trufant left them more or less having to go get a corner early in this class, and my fear was that they would feel they needed to move up in order to get their player. It looks like that thought has at least been floating around the virtual expanses of Flowery Branch, and while I recognize the team needed the money, this is not the ideal outcome.

If the Falcons do stay put, per McClure, LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson, Clemson’s A.J. Terrell, and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw would be options if they’er still there. Terrell is a good corner who is being remembered for getting burnt to a crisp against LSU rather than the larger picture of his quality college career, but would still not be my preferred pick. Kinlaw would be, though, and Chaisson would be a fine addition for a team that always needs more pass rushers.

Ultimately, though, McClure doesn’t seem to think the Falcons are going to give up the draft capital necessary to get someone like Clemson amoeba Isaiah Simmons or even Jeff Okudah. If his sources are correct, that means either a short skip up for C.J. Henderson or staying put and snagging a quality defender with upside at #16. I know which one I’d prefer.

Other notes

Two quick tidbits from McClure’s piece that I felt were worth calling out:

  • Temple’s Matt Hennessy is a player many Falcons fans and analysts have earmarked as an option for Atlanta, given his potential and his ability to play center at a high level. Hennessy is indeed a player McClure thinks the team could be interested in, both as an option to play guard this year at an unsettled left guard spot and as a future option at center. Remember, Alex Mack’s contract is up after this year.
  • Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson is someone I’ve tabbed as a logical Falcons pick for a long, long time, given his ability and intriguing run stopping acumen. Apparently Atlanta has checked in with him via Facetime, and I’d keep an eye on him in the 2nd or 3rd round, assuming the team does not swap up and burn those picks.