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On the Clock: Atlanta Falcons

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Team needs: Defensive line, outside linebacker, safety

Dream scenario: The Falcons already had the ultimate dream scenario last year when they hit big at quarterback (Matt Ryan), left tackle (Sam Baker) and middle linebacker (Curtis Lofton). Still, their defense wasn't that good last year and Atlanta is looking to get younger in several areas. The best way to improve a defense overall is to start with the pass rush. In that area, the Falcons, who have the 24th pick in the first round, have nothing but John Abraham. They could get him some help and score some major points with the hometown fans if they can land Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson.

Plan B: Drafting so late in the first round means the Falcons can't lock in on any one position. If Johnson or another quality pass-rusher isn't available, it will be easy for Atlanta to move in another direction. The Falcons let outside linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley go through free agency. Although they brought in free agent Mike Peterson, they need another starting outside linebacker. USC's Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews could fit nicely.

Scouts Inc.'s take: "It's a defensive pick, obviously. When you're picking that late, it's the best available defensive player. Thomas Dimitroff is a Scott Pioli guy, so there's always the chance they could trade and go back a few picks if the defensive player they want is there. The one thing that kind of intrigues me is Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas. Would the Falcons take a chance on him? It's a potential-type pick, but he has the athletic ability and size to be a top-flight NFL safety. But how quick is a guy from Western Michigan going to be able to step in?" -- Jeremy Green of Scouts Inc.

Who has final say: Coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are one of the most harmonious duos in the league. They almost always come to a mutual conclusion because they're usually on the same page. But Dimitroff does have the final say if a dispute ever arises.

Now on the clock: New England Patriots, March 24.

Previous On the Clock: Miami Dolphins. The team-by-team series.