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2014 NFL Draft

NFL Draft Rumors: Falcons Won’t Trade Up, Could Select Best Available Offensive Tackle

Signs are pointing to the Atlanta Falcons drafting Jake Matthews in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Jake Matthews
Jake Matthews

Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Jake Matthews. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have long been identified as a team that could make a trade up into the top three picks, largely because the team and general manager Thomas Dimitroff pulled off that feat a few years ago with Julio Jones.

It will be a long shot to see that happen again, though. ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure reported the team plans to stay put at No. 6 and draft the best available offensive tackle on the board.

Again, Dimitroff has reiterated his openness to trading up or down. Yet the Falcons have a more pressing need at offensive tackle. The Falcons, I believe, value protecting their quarterback more than securing a top-notch pass-rusher. That’s why I see them remaining at No. 6 and getting one of the top three offensive tackles.

The 2014 draft class is rich with offensive tackle talent. The best available, Greg Robinson of Auburn, is projected to come off the board as early as second overall to the St. Louis Rams. That would leave Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan as the most likely to land in Atlanta.

The belief that the Falcons would be trying to move up in the draft is largely due to their noticeable fondness of South Carolina edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, expected to be a top three pick, if not the first overall to the Houston Texans.

Clowney worked out for the Falcons on Friday, and the team has never masked their interest in the pass-rusher, but according to the report, the front office is placing a priority on protecting quarterback Matt Ryan. Last season, Ryan was sacked 44 times, tie for third-most in the league and 16 more times than he was in 2012.

Lamar Holmes is currently penciled in at right tackle. Last season, Holmes was benched and wound up finishing 75th among the 76 qualifying offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grades. Lewan or Matthews could take over there and start as early as Week 1.

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