The Falcons, after releasing Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson, are in the market for a defensive tackle.
They clearly are not desperate after kicking the tires on Dontari Poe and Terrell McClain in free agency. Poe, a former two-time Pro Bowler, left town Tuesday without reaching a deal with the team.
If the Falcons don’t address the position in free agency, there are several options available in the NFL draft, which is set for April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
Michigan State’s Malik McDowell, who’s been ranked in the top 10 in pass-rush productivity over the past two seasons by Pro Football Focus.com, is a fit for the Falcons.
Also, Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, who turned off some teams by showing a brash attitude during interviews at the scouting combine, could helped to solve the issue.
“Malik McDowell, it depends on how you classify him, if he’s going to play inside or outside,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Wednesday. “He’s tall and long. He might be the most talented defensive lineman … from a skill standpoint. He can become a highly disruptive player. He’s probably going to come of the board in the 10 to 25 range.”
The Falcons have the 31st pick in the draft.
“Brantley from Florida is kind of a classic (defensive tackle),” McShay said. “He’s very disruptive as a pass rusher. I think it was 5.5 career sacks. He’s not the best finisher, but he was disruptive and strong versus the run. He’s going to probably be a second-round pick.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator at Florida from 2011-12. Brantley arrived in the 2013 recruiting class.
Michigan’s Chris Wormley, Iowa’s Jaleel Johnson and Auburn’s Montravius Adams (from Dooly County High) also are highly rated.
“Wormley, again, he’s not a great pass rusher, but he’s going to probably end up being a (defensive tackle),” McShay said. “I think Jaleel Johnson is one of the more under-rated guys in this draft. He’s probably going to be a second- or third-round pick. He became more consistent this year coming out of Iowa.
“Auburn’s Montravius Adams was the most explosive of the defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. Had a really good season on tape this past year. Two years ago, the effort was not there.”