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Monday, November 25, 2013
Smith: Draft status not on Falcons' mind

By Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Although some fans view a 2-9 record as the perfect opportunity for the Atlanta Falcons to land the No. 1 overall draft pick, head coach Mike Smith said the organization is not buying into that philosophy one bit.

Smith was asked to address the topic as he met the media Monday afternoon.

"Guys, our focus as coaches and players is on the Buffalo Bills and it's on the next game,'' Smith said. "I know that people have a different approach and a look to a season at different points in time. But I can assure you this: We're not concerned about our draft status. We're concerned about winning the next game and putting a string together here at the end of the season.''

The Falcons, Texans, and Jaguars all sit at the bottom of the NFL with 2-9 records. If the season ended today, Jacksonville would have the No. 1 overall pick based on strength of schedule.

Although Smith said he wants to get a closer look at some of his younger players over the last five games, tanking it to be in position to draft a player such as South Carolina pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney doesn't appear to be an option.

"We're not going to not try to win the football game and just go into a complete evaluation mode,'' Smith said. "We're going to put the best players out there.

"Obviously, we haven't gotten the outcome that we've wanted, so we're going to give some guys some other opportunities that have worked extremely hard. If they deserve it, they're going to get an opportunity to go out there and play.''

At the same time, the Falcons will be hard-pressed to win road games at San Francisco and Green Bay as well as the season finale at home against Carolina, unless the Panthers have already wrapped up their playoff seed and have nothing to play for on Dec. 29. Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto won't be easy, either.