- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's no secret the Atlanta Falcons sorely need an impact pass-rusher after tying for second to last in the league with just 32 sacks in 2013.
So what player could help solve those pass-rush woes? ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has an idea.
In his mock draft, Kiper has the Falcons selecting UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Barr led the Bruins with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss this past season. He also forced five fumbles and had four fumble recoveries.
Although some believe Barr is best suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme, his athleticism and speed should allow him to have just as much of an impact as an edge rusher in a 4-3 alignment. The 6-foot-4-inch, 248-pound Barr, however, isn't a massive specimen like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
Would the Falcons be wise to target Barr? It depends on how they prioritize their needs. They obviously want to address the lines first, but the offensive line probably needs to take precedent. If such is the case, I can see the Falcons targeting either Auburn tackle Greg Robinson or Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews.
Maybe general manager Thomas Dimitroff will fall in love with Clowney and consider trading up with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick. Then again, I believe the asking price will be too steep.
Barr wouldn't be a bad option by any means. I watched him toward the end of the season and he is relentless on every snap. But I think the Falcons would be better off pursuing a pass-rusher in free agency first.