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Monday, January 6, 2014
Blank thinking line with first-round pick

By Vaughn McClure

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank made the organization's intentions to address offensive and defensive line issues with its first-round draft pick.

The Falcons, who finished the season at 4-12, currently own the No. 6 overall pick in the draft.

"Our first round pick will probably not be a skill position, which is not a surprise to anyone in this room," Blank said.

"We have to go and look at what our needs are. We have identified our needs, strongest needs in terms of the offensive line and the defensive line. Some other key positions, that's what we have to focus on."

Blank was asked which position he prioritized between an offense lineman or defensive lineman.

"I think that's up to Thomas [Dimitroff] and Smitty [Mike Smith] to make those decisions," he said.

Since Smith took over as coach in 2008, the Falcons have used two first-round picks on linemen: left tackle Sam Baker, who was 21st overall in '08, and defensive tackle Peria Jerry, 24th overall in '09.

In this year's draft, South Carolina defensive Jadeveon Clowney and Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews are the names most mentioned in terms of the Falcons' selection. But the Falcons might have to trade up to get Clowney, while Matthews also could be off the board if the Falcons remain sixth in the draft order.