The Atlanta Falcons may find the top-tier pass rushers are gone by the time they pick at No. 8 in the 2015 NFL Draft. If necessary, they should trade up for Vic Beasley.
For the Falcons, finding a way to sack the quarterback is a must — Beasley knows how to do that. He is the all-time sack leader at Clemson.
Dante Fowler Jr. is a great athlete with a huge amount of potential, but in my opinion Beasley is the best pure pass rusher this draft has to offer.
When it comes down to the two, it’s a matter of preference, and both players would be major upgrades to the Atlanta defense.
But why trade up for him?
When you finish 32nd in total defense and pass defense, you need to identify the players who you can build the unit with and target them in the draft.
Beasley is one of those players.
Dec 29, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley arrives at the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl prior to the game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
In the past three years, he recorded 89 tackles, 52.5 of which were for a loss, seven forced fumbles and 33 sacks.
With the eighth overall pick, the Falcons will likely be able to pickup the likes of Alvin Dupree, Randy Gregory and Shane Ray. But there are concerns with spending that pick on either three of them.
Dupree is an excellent player, no doubt, and he as ton of upside. But is he worthy of being selected with the eighth overall pick?
Possibly — but I’m not so sure I would take that risk.
Gregory and Ray both looked like top-10 players, and on talent alone they are, but the off-the-field issues could make them slide.
Gregory admitted to testing positive for marijuana at his NFL Scouting Combine drugs test in February.
The first concern with Ray is his injury status. There are concerns with his toe, and while it’s not expected to require surgery, it is still a red flag for teams.
That was a worry alone, but he was then cited for possession of marijuana and a traffic violation, which could see his draft stock plummet further.
With all things considered, trading up for Beasley would be a smart move by general manager Thomas Dimitroff. He is an explosive athlete, has good speed and would instantly upgrade the Falcons’ pass rush.
Charlie Campbell of Walter Football.com believes Beasley can provide a ‘consistent source of pass pressure’ and that he ‘puts quarterbacks to the turf with authority’. That’s exactly what Atlanta needs from their first draft choice. Campbell added:
"“For the NFL, Beasley looks like he has the potential to become a double-digit sack-artist. Beasley is lightning off the edge with the skills to burn tackles with his speed rush even when they know it’s coming. He can beat tackles around the corner with his burst and will dart back to the inside or use a spin move. Beasley has active hands that he uses to keep blockers from getting a good hold of him. Beasley can get hot and take over games with a series of big-time plays.When it comes to the ground game, Beasley is at his best in pursuit. His recently added strength should make him a better run-defender, but he had issues defending downhill runs straight at him in college. Beasley will also benefit by moving back off the line of scrimmage and not lining up with his hand on the ground all the time.”"
Trading up is an expensive move, and there is certainly an element of risk involved. To trade up for Beasley, the Falcons may need to move up to No. 4, currently owned by the Oakland Raiders.
But what would it cost the Falcons to move up to the fourth overall pick?
To get an idea, we can take a look into the past. Last year, Buffalo moved up from No. 9 to No. 4 in a trade with Cleveland.
In return for the Browns’ fourth overall pick, the Bills sent back their No. 9 pick, as well as their first and fourth round picks in 2015.
A heavy price to pay, for sure.
But the move would make sense for both teams. The Falcons get their man and their pass rush takes major strides forward.
For Oakland, they would stock up on 2016 draft picks, which is essential for a building team, while also dropping to a position where they will still likely be able to take one of the top wide receivers in Amari Cooper or Kevin White.
Dimitroff is a keen trader, and he could be busy on the phone Thursday night as he looks to strike a deal with another team.
If Oakland is looking to shift down, the Falcons should make a move and bring Beasley to Atlanta.