The run on edge rushers continues, which is predictable. Some may have projected Randy Gregory or Shane Ray here earlier, but neither is a possibility now because of terrible off-the-field issues. Both also had poor showings at the NFL Combine, and there's something else concerning Gregory that the media isn't aware of (but teams are).
Bud Dupree has enjoyed an exceptional draft season. He's also exactly what Atlanta is looking for in terms of an explosive defensive player, and he's not a reach here. He's a legitimate top-10 prospect.
*** OTHER 2015 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Brandon Scherff, G/OT - If all of the pass-rushers are off the board, the Falcons could trade down or select Brandon Scherff to replace Justin Blalock at guard.
2. Vic Beasley, DE/OLB - I don't think Beasley will be here, so the Falcons would have to move up for him. I just wanted to mention him here because he would be perfect for Atlanta's defense.
Rd. 2, Pk. 10
Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
The Falcons signed a couple of cheap tight ends this offseason, but that won't preclude them from spending their second-round pick on an upgrade at the position. Matt Ryan needs a reliable intermediate target, and Kyle Shanahan loves utilizing tight ends in his offense.
Rd. 3, Pk. 9
David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa
The Falcons lost multiple running backs this offseason, but this was already a position of need. The front office will want to find someone to pair with Devonta Freeman.
Rd. 4, Pk. 8
Josh Shaw, CB/S, USC
The Falcons have some issues at safety, so they could be looking at an early- or mid-round pick to get some help at the position.
Pick change; previously Davis Tull, DE/OLB
Rd. 5, Pk. 10
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Atlanta has strengthened its defensive line with bigger and more physical players, but the team still needs to improve its pass rush. Taking the best edge defender available should help jumpstart Dan Quinn's coaching tenure.
Dupree recorded 74 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one interception, one pass batted and two forced fumbles in 2014. He was much more disruptive than the numbers illustrate. Dupree (6-4, 269) is fast, strong and physical on the edge. He has the flexibility to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense or 3-4 outside linebacker.
Dupree played well in 2013 and was a nice weapon in Mark Stoops' defense. Dupree recorded 61 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one pass broken up and seven sacks. He was disruptive off the edge. As a sophomore, Dupree totaled 91 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and a pass batted.
Rd. 2, Pk. 10
Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
The Falcons continue to build up their edge defense for Dan Quinn.
Smith had little production before 2014 with only 2.5 sacks as a junior and 4.5 in his sophomore season. The senior showed a huge improvement in 2014 with nine sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 44 tackles, two forced fumbles, three passes broken up and two interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder has good size and had a solid Senior Bowl week that showed he's tough against the run and can rush the passer.
Rd. 3, Pk. 9
Clive Walford, TE, Miami
The Falcons have to find a true replacement for Tony Gonzalez. Levine Toilolo should be a backup.
The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Walford has some quickness, size and athleticism to him. He could develop into a quality blocker and is a nice weapon as a receiving tight end. Walford racked up 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014 despite inconsistent quarterback play. Walford put on a display at Senior Bowl with his receiving ability and really improved his draft stock.
Walford is coming from a school known for its star tight ends and was a solid contributor for Miami over the past two seasons. He caught 34 passes for 454 yards with two touchdowns in 2013. The previous year, Walford made 25 receptions for 451 yards and four scores. He caught 18 passes for 172 yards and a score in 2011.
Rd. 4, Pk. 8
Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State
Atlanta grab some safety help for Dan Quinn's defense.
Drummond totaled four interceptions, 72 tackles and 11 passes broken up in 2014. He is a smart and instinctive safety who covers a lot of ground in the back end. However, Drummond has to improve his eye discipline.
In 2013, his first season as a full-time starter, Drummond was one of the best safeties in the Big Ten and was an all-conference First-Team selection. The junior had 91 tackles, 10 passes broken up and four interceptions. Drummond (6-1, 200) appears to have enough size to go along with speed.
The pass defense of the Falcons has been awful, and while they need a better CB play, they also need a pass rush. Shane Ray can help upgrade that pass rush and would be a great piece to add in for the Giants. Ray is a sack machine with a ridiculously quick first step. Ray reportedly ran a 4.44 40 yard dash. In this league you need pass rushers and Ray has the potential to be a Von Miller type player.
Falcons need to improve their defense now. They could be a contending team if they improve their Defense and if White and Jones can stay healthy also if their running game improves. Beasley can bring help right away as they had as many sacks(as a team) as the Chiefs LB Houston
Other than trading back, Atlanta can take Dupree, Waynes, or an O-lineman. Considering their need for an edge-rusher, I think the athletic freak will be the pick. Waynes isn't top 10 material, and will only crack the top 16 based on athleticism and the fact that he may be the de facto top CB (Peters and IEO, off-the-field and injured, respectively). Considering Matthews was just picked and Baker is still under contract, they can hardly add another top 10 O-lineman. Dupree is a true reach, because his film isn't top 20 material. If the Falcons think they can develop him, there's no need to do anything but pull the trigger. Dupree may well be a Ziggy Ansah-type of emergent pro.