Dimitroff high on Clowney, top prospects

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
8:30
AM ET
MOBILE, Ala. -- There will be plenty of speculation regarding which draft prospects the Atlanta Falcons will target from now until the NFL draft starts on May 8.

Free agency, which begins March 11 after 4 p.m. Eastern, should answer some questions about which way the Falcons are leaning in the draft. Until then, the guessing game will continue.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff sat down with ESPN.com at the Senior Bowl and touched on a handful of top prospects that could be considered with the sixth-overall pick based on the most pressing needs -- protection along the offensive line and consistency with the pass rush. Dimitroff also left open the possibility of trading up in draft, as his considers every season:

• Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 274), defensive end, South Carolina: "Who? When I first heard that he was the best that people had seen in 20 years or whenever, I was skeptical because I never fall into the trap of comparing people over that many years. But obviously, he is an incredible talent with wild upside. He’s going to be a very big contributor on a football team from Day 1. We all know that. The league knows that. He has the potential to be one of the marquee-type pass rushers."

• Jake Matthews (6-5, 305), offensive tackle, Texas A&M: "Think about it: He is a such a technique-sound individual. He has such an understanding of the game, being from a historic NFL football family (son of Hall of Famer lineman Bruce Matthews). He’s just so well-rounded in so many ways on and off the field that he’s going to be a guy who is going to turn a lot of heads. A guy like that has the potential to go No. 1 in this draft, if he turns the right heads."

• Greg Robinson (6-5, 320), offensive tackle, Auburn: "Another fantastic athlete. He’s got such natural ability. He’s a little younger. As the season went on, he really started to dominate at that level. It’s always a very important thing to see a guy who still has a little bit of development to show how much upside he has. It’s about his athleticism. It’s about his upside. It’s about his ability and his range on the football field."

• Taylor Lewan (6-8, 315), offensive tackle, Michigan: "He’s a tough, tough dude with a lot of upside. He’s a very technique-sound guy as well. Has the ability to play both sides."

• Anthony Barr (6-4, 245), outside linebacker/defensive end, UCLA: "Barr is another fine athlete who has the ability to play both 4-3 and 3-4 outside linebacker. He also has the ability to move around and drop. He’s just a very versatile athlete with a very good understanding of the game."

• Khalil Mack, (6-3, 241), outside linebacker/defensive end, Buffalo: "Again, he’s another top-notch athlete. Great range. His ability to follow the ball is top-notch. Another versatile athlete who can get up around the corner and also drop. He’s got that versatility to play 4-3 and 3-4."

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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