Assigning Odds to Every Potential Atlanta Falcons First-Round Pick
"Defense" is still the watchword when discussing the Atlanta Falcons' plans for their first-round selection at 30th overall when the 2013 NFL Draft commences in a little over two weeks.
After free agency, Atlanta's most pressing needs appear to be at cornerback, linebacker and defensive end.
Join me as I place odds on the likelihood that eight first-round prospects who have recently been linked to the Falcons (via expert mock drafts or contact with the team during the draft process) end up in Atlanta based on the team's needs, the likelihood each prospect will be available when the Falcons pick at 30 and the potential impact each prospect could have for Atlanta in 2013.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: Five Percent
We've known that Tony Gonzalez is coming back for almost a month now, but that hasn't stopped Tyler Eifert's name from appearing in Atlanta's slot on a few mock drafts.
I see some logic in taking Eifert since an Eifert/Gonzalez combination in a two tight end set in front of Steven Jackson could cause a lot of trouble for opposing defenses in 2013 because of Eifert's playmaking ability, but I don't think Atlanta goes for a tight end in the first round unless Eifert is absolutely the best player available.
The Falcons have more urgent needs on defense, and there other tight ends in this class like San Diego State's Gavin Escobar who can potentially play alongside Gonzalez for a year before starting in 2014.
I also think there's a good chance Eifert is off the board by 30 anyway.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: Six Percent
A converted safety, Alec Ogletree plays a little high at times, but it's clear that he has NFL talent when you turn on the film. He could very well be the Julio Jones-type athlete on defense that many Falcons fans want to see Atlanta draft.
I highly doubt Ogletree and his SEC pedigree will make it to the Falcons' pick at 30, and even if he does, I'm not sure he'll make it through Thomas Dimitroff's character filter because of his pre-combine DUI arrest.
Nevertheless, Atlanta reportedly had a private workout with him.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: Eight Percent
Falcons fans may not be too familiar with Datone Jones since he played in the PAC-12, but Atlanta has expressed some interest in the UCLA product. Jones would likely fit in Atlanta as left defensive end in the 4-3 or as a five-technique defensive end like Jonathan Babineaux did last year when the Falcons lined up in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's "big-tackle three" front.
I understand Atlanta's interest in Jones because of his versatility and value as a potential replacement for Jonathan Babineaux in 2014, but I don't think he brings enough of an upgrade to the pass rush to merit a first-round selection if guys like Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine are still on the board.
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: 11 Percent
Arthur Brown is another player whose name has come up in Atlanta Falcons' mock drafts. He is a high-floor prospect whose instincts and playmaking ability will make it hard for him to come off of the field much as a rookie.
While I think the Falcons would consider Brown, teams like Minnesota, Houston and Chicago all need linebacker help too and they're picking in front of Atlanta. I'd be surprised if a linebacker with Brown's talent made it past those three teams to Atlanta's 30th pick.
Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: 14 Percent
Initially I was down on Jamar Taylor because I saw him playing a lot of press-man coverage and I wasn't sure if he was a good fit for Atlanta's defensive scheme. However, I have since been able to see more tape on him and I think he's versatile enough to be effective in a zone scheme too because of his awareness.
However, Taylor's injury history concerns me because the Falcons have been hit (William Moore) or miss (Peria Jerry) when spending first- or second-round picks on prospects who had issues with injuries in college.
Taylor has also had a private workout with the Falcons.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: 16 Percent
Werner would be a nice fit in Atlanta because he played in a 4-3 front in college and knows how to rush the passer and play the run at defensive end. His size, speed and strength fit the profile for a left defensive end in the NFL and that's where he'd be playing in Atlanta opposite Osi Umenyiora.
I'm not sure Werner will be available for the Falcons at 30, but his name has been connected to Atlanta in a few mock drafts over the last couple of weeks.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: 18 Percent
Cornellius Carradine is has a nice skill set for a player with size. He plays low and knows how to use leverage with his pass rush. That should enable him to be an effective rusher in the NFL. However, he is coming off of an ACL tear and could lose some of the explosiveness that helped make him an elite prospect before the injury.
As I mentioned with Jamar Taylor, the Falcons' experience with Peria Jerry could make them hesitate to spend another first-round pick on a prospect who with an injury flag.
There's a decent chance that Carradine's on the board when Atlanta picks at 30 because of the ACL injury. That's why I give him the edge on Bjoern Werner in the odds.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
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Odds Atlanta Drafts Him In the First Round: 22 Percent
Desmond Trufant can make a strong case for being the second-best cornerback prospect in the entire draft. If he makes it to Atlanta's pick at 30, it's hard to see the Falcons passing him up. Trufant has the size, speed and swagger that NFL teams covet in cornerback prospects.
Trufant is my leader in the clubhouse to be Atlanta's pick if he's on the board at 30. I think Atlanta's need at corner is greater than its need at defensive end or linebacker now that Brent Grimes is out of the picture.