After watching the Broncos’ Von Miller dominate Super Bowl 50, Falcons fans can only dream that we land that kind of game-changer in this year’s draft.

Both Denver and Carolina’s defenses crushed the line of scrimmage last Sunday. Luke Kuechly is the gold standard in the NFC at linebacker and was taken 9th overall in 2012. The Falcons don’t have anyone on the roster from the 2102 draft. Cleveland had our 22nd pick that year as part of the Julio Jones picks swap. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower went 25th to the Pats that year not that we would have gone that direction anyway… Our team’s management for the last eight years has thought you emphasize offense to win it all. Not surprisingly there’s not one linebacker or defensive lineman on the Falcons that would have cracked the starting lineup in The Super Bowl.

In 2014, the Falcons for whatever reason, be it Smitty or Dimitroff’s idea went with Ra’Shede Hageman with the 37th overall selection. The Panthers picked up star Kony Ealy 23 picks later. And for a team that usually gets offensive moves right the Falcons missed out on our next potential franchise tight end. The Bucs grabbed Austin Seferian-Jenkins one pick later.

Enough crying over spilled milk. The good news is there’s tons of defensive talent in this year’s NFL Draft. Most experts feel that there’s enough quality outside linebackers & defensive ends to stretch deep into the second round. Assuming the Falcons will address the middle of the offensive line thru free agency and you don’t draft a guard in the first round anyway let’s see what the talking heads at the four letter network think…

With the combine a few weeks away and many highly regarded player’s stock sure to both rise and fall, Mel Kiper’s mock draft varies greatly from Todd McShay’s. In Kiper’s defense, his first draft is nearly a month old. Still it’s fun to look at some of the names presumably available when the Falcons pick at 17.

Reggie Ragland, ILB Bama: Kiper has him going at 11 to the Bears, McShay has him going 16 to the Lions, but with Calvin Johnson’s retirement perhaps Detroit goes WR…

Kevin Dodd, DE Clemson: Kiper has the Falcons taking him at 17, McShay says he’s not worth picking so high and has Dodd landing in Carolina at 31.

Shaq Lawson DE Clemson: Kiper has him in the Top 10 going to Miami at 8. McShay has Lawson going to the Falcons at 17.

Jaylon Smith LB Notre Dame: McShay has the athletic linebacker coming off knee surgery going to Buffalo at 18. Hair Helmet has Smith going to the Jets at 20.

Robert Nkemdiche, DT Ole Miss: Kiper has him going 13th to the Eagles, McShay thinks his love of synthetic weed won’t hurt him in the draft and has the former Grayson HS star going 14th to the Raiders.

Myles Jack, LB UCLA: Both Kiper & McShay don’t think the playmaking linebacker falls to where the Falcons are picking. Kiper says G-Men at 10 and McShay says one pick later to da Bears.

If Vic Beasley continues to show the playmaking ability that emerged late in the 2015 season and the Falcons can find a quality pass rusher in the draft we could potentially have the first real heat on the QB since Patrick Kerney & Rod Coleman a decade ago. John Abraham never had a competent defensive end on the opposite side to draw the double team away from him. Let’s hope we get in the defensive playmaking business this year!

Fingers crossed!

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