ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was asked by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution how should the Falcons blend the concept of taking the best player available with their obvious needs for the NFL draft, which is set for April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
The Falcons hold the 31st pick in the first round of the draft. The NFC champions have three picks in the top 100 with their second-round (63) and third-round picks (95).
In his latest mock draft, Kiper projects that the Falcons should take Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
“They don’t have enough good pass rushers,” Kiper said. “I saw that in the championship game. Guys wear down, and (New England quarterback) Tom Brady took advantage of that interior-wise and outside. Another pass rusher like Taco Charlton or Derek Barnett if there is a pass-rusher there in the late first. Like I said, just look at the Super Bowl. This is a pass-happy league. You’ve got to have more than just one or two. He would certainly help the Atlanta Falcons.”
Washington cornerback Sidney Jones was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the draft before rupturing his Achilles at the school’s Pro Day.
Blending needs versus the best player available will present itself in the second round.
“That’s the tough part because they have a lot of talent,” Kiper said. “That’s why I gave them Sidney Jones in second round because the late second being a point where you can take a player and basically redshirt him knowing that you have a top-15, top-20 talent coming back in 2018.
“He probably would have been the second cornerback, maybe the first cornerback taken this year. Think about that when you can get him the mid- to late second round.”