About the Author
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter, a three-time APSE award-winning reporter, is the Atlanta Falcons beat reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He currently serves as the president of the Pro Football Writers of America.
FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons are in the final stages of setting their draft board for the NFL draft, which is set for May 8-10.
They start offseason conditioning today. We’ll have some media access on Tuesday.
Also, several of the top prospects including UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack are scheduled to visit Flowery Branch next week.
The Falcons have also been connected to all of the top tackles in the draft in Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
It’s clear that they are going either edge rusher or offensive tackle in the first round of the draft.
After that, the Falcons still have many other needs. Here’s how they see the draft working out for the Falcons, who have 10 picks.
Here is who the Falcons should take with their 10 picks:
Round 1 – No. 3 overall (Projected trade) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: He’s consider the most athletic tackle in the draft. He has the highest ceiling.
Round 2 – No. 37 overall – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: Ford terrorized tackles in the SEC last season as he finished the regular season with 12.5 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks. He was named to the coaches and Associated Press’ all-SEC team. He was the arguably the best player at the Senior Bowl. He solidified his draft status at the Tigers Pro Day. He had a 35 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot, 4-inch long jump, he lifted 225 pounds 29 times on the bench press and 4.59 on his first 40-yard dash attempt and 4.53 on his second. “They said 4.53,” Ford said. “Some said 4.4 and half. But it’s all good. I’m just glad that I got out there and ran.”
Round 3 – No. 68 overall – Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State: Smith, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, helped the Seminoles win the national championship. The Lowndes product was the team’s leading tackler with 90. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds at the combine,
Round 4 – No. 103 overall – Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt: Ladler, who played at Stephenson High before going on to star for the Commodores, was an all-SEC selection. He has a nose for the football. He was the only FBS player last season with five interception and five forced fumbles.
Round 4 – No. 139 overall (compensatory) — C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa: Fiedorowicz played in the Senior Bowl and was named the most outstanding tight end/wide receiver. He completed his career with at least one pass reception in 31 straight games, which ranked second among active FBS tight ends. He played for the Hawkeyes as a true freshman in 2010.
Round 5 – No. 147 overall – Terrance West, RB, Towson State: In 2013: West scored at least one touchdown in all 16 games for the Tigers. He also ran for more than 100 yards 12 times and had four 200-plus-yard games. West, who is 5-foot-9, 225 pounds, is the seventh rated running back in the draft.
Round 6 – No. 182 overall — Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama: He started the last two season for the Crimson Tide.
Round 7 – No. 220 overall – Jemea Thomas, S, Georgia Tech: The hard-hitting defensive back and play both safety and cornerback. He attended the Falcons’ locals day.
Round 7 – No. 253 overall (compensatory) – Kasim Edebali, OLB, Boston College: He’s a native of Germany. In 2013, he had 67 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five passes broken up, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Round 7 – No. 255 overall (compensatory) – Branden Thomas, OG/O/T, Clemson: This is a pick for the future and a steal at this point. The Falcons had him in the Senior Bowl. He suffered a knee injury during his private workout with the Saints.
"what if there were no hypothetical situations?"