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Monday, April 15, 2013
Atlanta Falcons: Mock draft prep

By Pat Yasinskas

I owe a debt of gratitude to Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff as I prepare to make the Falcons’ first pick in the Blog Network mock draft next week.

Although there are countless variables that could play out before Atlanta picks at No. 30, I’m pretty confident I at least know what direction I’ll be heading in. That’s due to the fact that Dimitroff has done an exceptional job this offseason of narrowing his needs.

In fact, I see the Falcons with only one major need. That’s at cornerback and, at least at this moment, I feel pretty confident that I’ll go in that direction.

I’m not sold on Washington’s Desmond Trufant or Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes when I consider them as possibilities for the other three NFC South teams, who each are picking in the middle of the first round. But I think the value could be right for Rhodes or Trufant if they’re around at No. 30.

But they’re not the only two cornerbacks I’m pondering for the Falcons. Houston’s D.J. Hayden and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor seem to have their stock rising in recent mock drafts. Taylor, in particular, is growing on me and I might even consider him ahead of Rhodes or Trufant.

Again, I see cornerback as Atlanta’s big need and think there’s a strong chance the Falcons will go in that direction. But I have to be prepared for other scenarios, in case things in front of No. 30 get thrown dramatically off course.

One such scenario would involve Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The values being placed on him are wildly different. Some people have him as a top-10 pick. But I’m also seeing some mock drafts where Werner is falling. If he’s available at No. 30, I’d have to consider him. The Falcons could use a pass-rusher to complement Osi Umenyiora in the short term and replace him in the long term.

I’m not a big believer in the Falcons using their first-round pick to get the heir apparent to tight end Tony Gonzalez. That would mean sitting your first-round pick most of his rookie season and the Falcons are very much in a win-now mode. I think they can find a tight end prospect somewhere later in the draft.

But, just for the sake of conversation, let’s say that Werner is gone and let’s say the available cornerbacks aren’t ones the Falcons really like.

Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz are considered to be pretty close to can’t-miss prospects. Although that’s not a direction I’m leaning at all, I’d have to consider them if the other options aren’t right.

Let’s hear your feedback in the comments section below. And I’m certainly open to hearing any alternative scenarios you might have.