No pass-rusher for Falcons at No. 6

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
3:00
PM ET
It’s my pleasure to pinch hit for Vaughn McClure today. In addition to covering the Buccaneers, I filled in for Vaughn on a conference call the NFL Nation reporters did with ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.

I know Atlanta has needs on the offensive and defensive lines and most of the mock drafts I’ve seen have the Falcons taking an offensive tackle. But I’m still wondering if it’s possible for the Falcons to land a pass-rusher in the first round.

By just about all indications, the top two pass-rushers (Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack) will be gone before the Falcons pick at No. 6 overall. So I asked Kiper if there is another pass-rusher who would be a good value at that point.

“No, that would not be a position you could fill at that particular point,’’ Kiper said. “I think you turn to offensive tackle. There are two really good ones in Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews.’’

I’d have no problem with the Falcons taking Lewan or Matthews. The Falcons didn’t do a very good job of protecting quarterback Matt Ryan last season and Lewan or Matthews would provide a big boost for the offensive line.

But let’s flip back to pass-rushers for just a moment. The other guy who was being mentioned along with Clowney and Mack early in the draft process was UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. But Barr’s stock seems to be falling a bit.

“Barr is the very intriguing guy,’’ Kiper said. “There’s a lot of polarization there. You can see the inexperience. He almost looks like an offensive player playing defense and he was an offensive player a couple years ago. But there is a lot of talent there.’’

But I don’t think Barr is polished enough for the Falcons to reach for him at No. 6.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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