Quick note: I will not mention any cornerback in this article. I do not believe that they would take any corner with the first-round pick, it is not a need (that the draft can fill).
By that logic, we can guess that the Falcons will pick on the defensive side—or will they? I will go over all of the players I think that the Falcons should consider and from that make my judgement.
James Laurinaitis, inside linebacker, Ohio State:
First, I must say that if the Falcons draft him he would be moved to an outside linebacker position. James is an undersized linebacker who has a mean streak you cannot measure. He is a very instinctive player and more often then not is in the right place at the right time.
James would be a bargain at pick No. 24 The only question with drafting him would be can he make the move to OLB. I believe he can.
Clay Matthews, outside linebacker, USC:
Matthews has everything you would want in an outside linebacker. He can rush the quarterback or drop back into coverage. That is all good, but what I like about him is the fact that he was a walk-on at arguably the best college football program.
This shows that he believes in what he can do and has the ability to show it. Matthews also could jump right into the starting lineup and produce.
Rey Maualuga, inside linebacker, USC:
Another USC product that I could see the Falcons taking. Like Laurinaitis, Rey is an inside linebacker who would have to change, but again I believe he could make the change.
Rey is a true freak of nature. He is basically an angry bull that gets to hit people with no consequences. Could you even imagine being the running back that has to go against both Curtis Loftin and Rey Maualuga. I know, scary isn't it.
Michael Johnson, defensive end, Georgia Tech:
A home town name who can help with a major problem. Johnson can help with the Falcons poor pass rush right away. I mean this kid can pass rush.
He has all of the tools that are needed to be a master at it, but wait. I have heard this before, wasn't it a few years ago this was said about Anderson. Hmm, actually as much as I like Kiper, I am going to have to disagree. We don't need a defensive end this early in the draft.
Brandon Pettigrew, tight end, Oklahoma State:
Easily the best tight end in this year's draft. Pettigrew is the full package. He can catch and block with the best of them. The knock on him is that he is not a game breaker.
Well if you saw the Falcons last season you saw that we do not need more game breakers. Instead, we need more consistent players. If he is there when the Falcons pick will be quite tempting for he would complete the offense.
Ron Brace, defensive tackle, Boston College:
I admit this is kind of a stretch. But he is 6-foot-3, 330 pounds. Those are numbers you cannot ignore. Remember he played along side a very complete tackle in Raji, which is what he would be doing as a Falcon (Jonathan Babineaux).
He would help clog the middle and create a push with Jonathan. I could see him being an integral part of the Falcons D-line rotation.
Louis Delmas, safety, Western Michigan:
Could be a future play-maker for the Falcons. His upside is crazy and his downside is not that bad. So this risk might just pay off. He would be an ideal free safety, but we already have Erick Coleman so he would have to play the strong safety position.
This is only bad for the fact that he is not a big player. Also, the fact that he come from a small school which means he would more then likely not be able to start right away.
Alex Mack, center, California:
The Falcons are young at every position on the offensive line except center. Mack would be able to be in the line rotation while fighting McClure for the starting job. He could make the Falcons O-line not only complete, but elite. He would also give Matt Ryan a chance to grow old with a center of his own. (Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday)
OK, so I have gone over some of the many players the Falcons could consider at this point in the draft. All have their upsides and downsides. But there is one that if the Falcons have the opportunity cannot afford to pass on. And the pick is: Clay Matthews.
He has everything that the Falcons need. He is not only a dual threat but he is intelligent. I could see him becoming a premier linebacker in the NFL and would love for Atlanta to be his home.
(This does sort of hurt my fandom a little bit. For I am a UCLA fan, but Falcons come first so go Clay.)
Some quick names that I would like to see the Falcons get in the later rounds.
William Moore, safety, Missouri: Big play potential and solid tackler.
Chase Coffman, tight end, Missouri: A solid blocker with soft hands.
Eric Wood, center, Louisville: Solid player that could be molded to fit for Falcons.