Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The combine has been exciting so far to say the least. This is one of the most important combines in a while for Atlanta since they desperately need to find help along both lines. The underwear Olympics can, however, be very misleading on who is a good football player, and who is a good athlete. The combine is something Atlanta usually pays very close attention to considering a lot of time they draft workout warriors in the later rounds in hopes of developing a great athlete into a great player. A great combine performance might move a player up the board as well.
Last year, Atlanta drafted Robert Alford in the second round. Alford put up some of the best numbers during the combine leading the cornerbacks in the 40-yard-dash, bench press, long jump and the high jump. Many draft experts didn’t believe Robert Alford would be drafted before the third round, but Atlanta felt they couldn’t wait and hope he falls to them in the third round. So far, Alford has paid off greatly for the Falcons.
This group of offensive linemen is one of the most athletic groups in a very long time. Greg Robinson flew to an incredible 4.88 40-time showing that he isn’t just a big body. But there were tackles and guards throughout the entire group that proved incredibly fast and strong. This is great news for Atlanta seeing that they could draft a potential starter at center, guard, or right tackle as late as in the fourth round. Past that, the linemen would still supply great depth.
As impressive as the offensive linemen were, the tight ends were equally unimpressive. Many very sought after tight ends seemed slow. Arthur Lynch, tight end from UGA was almost outrun by offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. This year may be a great year for Atlanta to draft depth for offensive linemen, but this might not be the year to attempt to replace Tony Gonzalez in the draft.
The prize in this draft, however, is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. To get him, the quarterbacks need to perform outstandingly well. The wild card here is where the Houston Texans want to go with the first overall pick. If they wish to bolster an already powerful defense by drafting Clowney first overall, it’s over. Atlanta won’t trade up to first overall. If they go the rout of the franchise quarterback and pick Blake Bortles or Johnny Football, Atlanta is in business.
The first thing that comes to mind when trading up a few spots early in the first round is the back-breaking trade Washington made for Robert Griffin the Third. This trade would be a lot different. When Washington traded, they needed their quarterback and they couldn’t trade up with anyone else because there was no sure thing that he would be available anywhere else. Not to mention, trading down from the second spot would keep the Rams from drafting their guy, so it had to be worth it.
The situation is much different now. The rams need help along the offensive line and they may want another weapon at wide receiver. Either Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews along with Sammy Watkins would be at 6. The Falcons also could very easily settle with Khalil Mack, Barr, or one of those offensive linemen if they don’t trade so the desperateness isn’t there for extortion. Not to mention Les Snead is a former Falcon and does regular business with Dimitroff and Atlanta. It wouldn’t be smart for St. Louis to not trade down to pick up a few extra picks when their guy will still be there at 6.
The trade may not be as expensive as you think it is. It could cost as much as a first and second round this year and a first round next year, or as little as a third and fourth round this year if no one else is attempting to trade up. Atlanta won’t pull the trigger on something too expensive so they won’t trade away the house for one player.
Whatever happens, if the draft comes and goes and Jadeveon Clowney ends up in the red and black, it’s something to be happy and excited about. He could be everything to the defense that Julio Jones is to the offense and that was a pricy trade too.