2014 Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: What Happens with Trade Up for Jadeveon Clowney
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has developed a bit of a reputation for trading up in the first round after three of his initial six first-round picks were selected after a trade up. Atlanta moving up for Jadeveon Clowney is the big scenario being floated around right now.
So what happens if the team trades up to No. 1 overall for the best player in the draft? How does it affect any scenario in which the Falcons fill other roster needs? Will they be able to find a starting free safety and tight end to go with their new premiere pass-rusher? How do they fill out the rest of their depth?
All of these questions need to be answered, so that if the Falcons do make the trade up, fans aren’t scared about the possibility of getting the best player in the draft at the expense of adding depth later in the draft.
Atlanta sends 2014 first-round pick (No. 6 overall), 2014 third-round pick (No. 68 overall) and 2015 second-round pick to Houston for 2014 first-round pick (No. 1 overall).
At first glance, this trade looks a bit lopsided in favor of the Falcons. However, the Houston Texans could be forced to take less if the Falcons are the only team willing to trade a pick that would keep Houston in range of their preferred quarterback—whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel or another QB prospect.
The third-round picks for Atlanta under the Comrade have a hit rate of just 37.5 percent, so why not trade one away if it’s going to help the team overall? Also, by giving up next year’s second-round pick, the Falcons would equal the value out a good bit.
Atlanta still gives up a good bit just to secure their guy. But, it’s not something that will cripple the team and the juice will be worth the squeeze. Atlanta could then take Jadeveon Clowney at the top overall pick without having to worry about anyone else stealing him.
Round 1, No. 1 Overall: DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney is the best player in the 2014 NFL draft. He’s someone who will change a team completely with his pass-rushing ability and can be the lockdown run defender the Falcons were missing on the edge in 2013 when they allowed way too many big running plays.
Sure, the trade up to get him may sting at first. But when people see how well he slides into the weak-side outside linebacker role, all will be forgiven. Clowney has the potential to explode onto the scene in his rookie season and be a 13-15 sack player yearly.
In coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme, Clowney would be used both standing up and with his hand in the dirt. He’ll be played inside and outside. He’ll be played on either side of the field. Basically, he’ll be used in the same way he was back by South Carolina in 2012 when he had the best season of his collegiate career.
In 2013, the Gamecocks' defensive coordinator decided, that despite Clowney being the best player on the team, he would put him at right defensive end on almost every single play. That allowed teams to game-plan for him easily and really limited his production.
Round 2, No. 37 Overall: TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Atlanta replacing Tony Gonzalez with the second-best tight end in the draft would be a brilliant move. It’s tough finding someone who can duplicate what Gonzalez did for Matt Ryan during his stretch with the team from 2009 to 2013.
Jace Amaro has the potential to be better than Gonzalez was during the veteran's tenure as a Falcon. Amaro will provide Atlanta with someone who can duplicate everything Gonzalez did over the past five seasons while also offering more natural athleticism than an aging Gonzalez brought to the field. That athleticism can help stretch the seam, and Amaro is also willing to block.
Amaro can line up either as a traditional in-line TE or in the slot. In doing so, he’ll give the Falcons someone who can open up the interior passing game and attack the red zone even more effectively. The former Texas Tech standout is the perfect tight end for a more open Falcons offense in 2014.
Round 4, No. 103 Overall: S Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
When it comes to bolstering its defensive backfield, the Falcons will have to find a starting free safety as soon as they can.
Dwight Lowery was recently signed, but he’s not exactly a starting safety at this point in his career. And while Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta have promising athletic profiles, the Falcons can do better.
That’s where Terrance Mitchell comes in. Sure, he played cornerback at Oregon, but he’s not afraid of contact and is one of the best coverage players in the draft. He makes plays on the ball and isn’t afraid to be aggressive in traffic.
He’s very similar to New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd in that his top-end speed isn’t amazing, but his short-area quickness and instincts are off the charts. The Falcons would be wise to bring in Mitchell if he was there in the fourth round like he is in this mock situation.
Round 4, No. 139 Overall: NT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
Atlanta went out and signed Paul Soliai this year to be that big body in the middle. The problem with big bodies in the middle is that they get tired and there are only so many of them out there.
So the Falcons need to make sure they get a proper backup for the talented Soliai.
Daniel McCullers out of Tennessee is a monster of a man at 6’7", 350 pounds. He shares many similarities to other talented big men, and he compares very favorably to Soliai. That alone will help as the Falcons attempt to build and maintain a very deep defensive line rotation.
On goal-line and short-yardage sets alone, the Falcons would easily be much bigger than they were in 2013. They should control the gap better with multiple guys who understand how to eat double-teams and who are massive enough to do so effectively.
Round 5, No. 147 Overall: RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
After losing Jason Snelling to retirement and with Steven Jackson having injury issues in 2013, the Falcons need to bring in someone to compete at running back.
Central Florida's Storm Johnson would be an ideal fit, as he’s got the same kind of pinball running style that Michael Turner had.
Unlike Turner, he can be a huge asset in the passing game. He doesn’t just run one or two routes like most running backs. He has a full tree of patterns he's able to execute and has extremely soft hands when he goes to catch the ball.
In Atlanta, Johnson would be an upgrade over Snelling should the Falcons put the rookie in the same role. Ideally, Johnson would eventually replace Jackson as the featured back in Atlanta’s offense.
Round 6, No. 182 Overall: WR Mike Davis, Texas
Mike Davis could be the answer to the question of who the Falcons could get that would be able to learn behind Roddy White for a season or two before White retires. Davis has great size and speed and is a deep threat.
However, he needs a lot of work in polishing his skills as a route-runner, especially on underneath patterns. Working behind White for a season or two should really help Davis as the veteran receiver is one of the best in the business at running routes.
The Falcons adding Davis to an already deep group of weapons could only help the offense.
Round 7, No. 220 Overall: QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina
The Falcons need more competition at backup quarterback. And who better to join the running than South Carolina’s Connor Shaw? He has an excellent deep ball and understands how to put touch on his passes. More than that, he understands how to lead an offense efficiently.
While he is likely nothing more than a backup in the NFL, he’s got long-term potential to stick around the way Jason Garrett did. If Shaw can wind up in Atlanta, he’ll be with a team that has similar personnel to what he had at Carolina.
Round 7, No. 253 Overall: LB Boseko Lokombo, Oregon
Atlanta needs depth at linebacker behind Sean Weatherspoon, Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow. Boseko Lokombo can play inside or outside in the 3-4 and will be able to provide a unique option for covering tight ends—something the Falcons don’t have right now.
Ideally, Lokombo will wind up sitting for the season on defense as he plays special teams and learns the scheme. After this year, he’ll provide solid depth and will come in to man up on certain players, depending on the opponent.
Round 7, No. 255 Overall: FB/DE/OLB Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest
Atlanta could use some guys who, while not necessarily having a set position in the NFL, are just pure football players.
Guys like Nikita Whitlock.
Though a bit undersized, Whitlock is the kind of player who can play at different places in the front seven of the defense.
Also, no team ever wants to draft a fullback, but if Whitlock can provide depth at fullback and at edge-rusher, he could be dangerous. He’s an extremely good athlete for his 5’9", 250-pound frame and could be the next Elvis Dumervil if he sticks as an edge-rusher.
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.