Having a draft pick in the top 5 is actually somewhat rare for the Falcons. The last time it happened was in 2008 in the aftermath of the Michael Vick scandal and the Bobby Petrino disaster of 2007. Having a pick this high gives you a host of options, with the hope being that you won’t be here again for a long while.
In this series, we’ll take a look at all the different ways the Falcons can use this pick to rebuild under a new regime. Today, we consider the option of drafting a defensive lineman.
Why it makes sense
Vic Beasley - gone. Takk McKinley - gone. Dante Fowler - disappointing. At this point, Falcons fans may have an adverse reaction to first round pass rushers, but the reality is that sometimes the best option for finding a top-notch defensive lineman is by drafting one early in the first. And let’s be clear: this is a major need for Atlanta right now.
Fowler could be a cap casualty, leaving the defensive end position almost unmanned right now. If he stays, he’s basically the only player under contract until the Falcons bring back exclusive rights free agent Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. If Dean Pees is going to install more of a traditional 3-4 defense, grabbing someone who can get after the QB (whether from defensive end or outside linebacker) could be critical. Additionally, grabbing the top pass rusher in any draft class is rarely a bad move. It’s one of the few premium positions in the NFL.
Why it might be the wrong move
Right now, there doesn’t appear to be a true “game-changer” on the defensive line in this draft class. Gregory Rousseau could be a great one, but he’s still very much a project at this point. Spending the #4 pick of this draft class on a guy with such a low floor could be incredibly risky, especially when other high ceiling, high floor players will likely be available. Plus, the Falcons have spent plenty of first round picks on pass rushers only to watch them fail. It might be time to try and grab a big name in free agency instead of whiffing on this critical position yet again. Undoubtedly, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith do not want to start out their time in Atlanta with a first round bust.
What do you think? Would you support grabbing a defensive lineman with the first round pick? Let us know in the comments below.