With the defense being in a clear frustrated state heading into the off-season, it’s pretty obvious that the Atlanta Falcons and soon-to-be head coach Dan Quinn will be trying to restructure the defense after being ranked last in the league in yards allowed in 2014. The glaring need is a pass rusher, and Josh Sanchez in the latest 2015 NFL Mock Draft has the Atlanta Falcons going with an electrifying defensive end.
Shane Ray, DE/OLB Missouri
Josh Sanchez explains.
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"This one is pretty simple. The Atlanta Falcons ignored their pass rushing needs in last year’s draft, so they once again struggled to get after opposing quarterbacks. This time around, they will not be able to ignore the position if they want to improve. Adding a player like Ray would fill the immediate need."
The name Shane Ray has actually been floating around here and there in many Atlanta Falcons mock drafts and for good reason. Ray’s NFL.com profile had some intriguing words to say about the explosive pass rusher.
"“Has elite power for his size and explodes off the line like a coiled spring. Rushes passer with extreme passion and purpose. Has fast, violent hands with advanced understanding of how to use them. Tough and plays with bad intentions on each snap. Uses rip to get under linemen and out-leverage them. Played 4-3 defensive right end in base but rushed from three-technique in some sub-packages. Once he gets to blocker’s edge, they struggle to recover and redirect. Rare ability to post inside leg and get his body turned sharply and quickly around it toward quarterback. Excellent change-of-direction talent. Has natural coordination of head fakes, footwork and hand usage in pass rush. Works hard to stand his ground against power. Has power in upper body and hips to punch and dispatch with tight ends against run. Rarely runs past the arc as a rusher and will fight to come back underneath if he gets on the high side. Was able to drop into space with no issues when asked.”"
With plenty of talent on the offensive side in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Jake Matthews, if the Falcons are able to land a guy like Ray in the draft and bring even an average defense into 2015 there should be plenty of optimism to go around.