Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Atlanta Falcons' Top 3 Picks
May 8, 2014 can’t come here soon enough. The draft process is a bit longer and more drawn out than it ever has been. Teams would now be looking at best- and worst-case scenarios for each of their picks and making sure they have an idea of who they truly want in each case.
Atlanta would be no different in how it approaches its draft strategy. With the extra two weeks of preparation, the Falcons—like every other team—have drawn out hundreds of different scenarios to where they will know who goes where and what they want to do in each situation.
Round 1, Best Case: Jadeveon Clowney Slips to No. 6
In every situation, there is always the absolute best-case scenario. In the first round of the draft, that would be Jadeveon Clowney somehow slipping to No. 6 overall. The Falcons would love to have his transcendent talent on their team.
He would instantly upgrade the pass rush and defensive front seven. He could be used all over the formation as a pass-rush threat and would enhance the run defense as well. The Falcons would be sprinting to the podium if Clowney is somehow available at six.
Round 1, Worst Case: Taylor Lewan Is the Only One Left Worth Taking
While the Falcons have a ton of options for their pick, the top targets would be pass-rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack. The fallback options would be left tackles Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson. However, if all four of them are off the board, Taylor Lewan would be the best option remaining.
And that’s a true worst-case scenario. Lewan is only a mid-first-round talent, and being taken at six would be way too high for him. On top of that, there is a legal scenario that is concerning for him. Lewan would easily start at either tackle spot, but it would be tough to justify him as a great pick.
Round 2, Best Case: Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Slip to 37
The Falcons have a need for a starting safety, and if one of the top two safeties happens to fall to No. 37 overall, they would be sprinting to the podium. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are both great fits for the Falcons at free safety and would be instant starters.
However, it’s extremely unlikely that either would fall to 37. Should either of them slip, Atlanta could have two first-round talents added to their team with their first two picks. Pryor and Clinton-Dix both would be considered upgrades to what Thomas DeCoud provided in 2013.
Round 2, Worst Case: Falcons Take a Pass-Rusher Like Kyle Van Noy or Dee Ford
Atlanta needs to address pass-rusher at some point in the draft. And while they could get one of the better ones like Jeremiah Attaochu or even a slipping Anthony Barr if they traded up into the late first round, it would be shocking for them to fall to 37.
So the Falcons might be stuck waiting on Dee Ford or Kyle Van Noy at 37. That isn’t all bad, as both of those players are good fits for the Falcons defense and could instantly start at outside linebacker in a 3-4 switch for the defense.
Round 3, Best Case: TE Troy Niklas Slips to the Top of the 3rd
Troy Niklas is the most raw tight end in the class. However, he has the absolute best physical makeup and tools to be a great long-term option at tight end. Atlanta could take him and use him at an in-line tight end starter, as he can both block and run routes effectively.
Hopefully, no one realizes the talent that Niklas has, so that Atlanta can steal him at the top of the third round. He would be an instant and long-term starter in the mold of Rob Gronkowski. The only big difference is that he doesn’t have the same injury concerns as Gronk.
Round 3, Worst Case: Taking an OT Who Isn't Ready to Start
Atlanta definitely needs some more depth at left tackle. So while taking a tackle wouldn’t be a best case scenario, should Tiny Richardson fall to this spot, the Falcons could easily take him for depth and competition behind Sam Baker.
The only reason why this would be a worst case scenario is that if Richardson falls, it’s due to a degenerative knee condition. The Falcons already have their own often injured left tackle in Baker. So adding yet another one wouldn’t be the wisest decision.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.