Here’s who the Atlanta Falcons should take in the first round of the NFL Draft

We’ve heard all the rumors, and it’s almost time to finally learn who the Atlanta Falcons will take with the No. 8 overall pick.

The first round of the NFL Draft will be held Thursday evening, and unless the Falcons make a trade, their pick will be roughly two hours into the telecast. But who will they pick?

Talking heads have thrown out nearly every possible strategy with months of lead-up to the big day, and local media has analyzed and overanalyzed what the Falcons will do with their crucial first-round pick. Two seasons of mediocre play means the fanbase is eager to see a big-name difference-maker selected by Atlanta early in the draft.

“The Falcons will almost certainly take a pass rusher in the first round,” writes Football Betting Center, and that has to be the only way the Falcons’ front office is thinking just hours before the draft.

Luckily for the Falcons, there are several good defensive players that would probably fit well with the Falcons. That includes, FBC added, defensive ends Vic Beasley from Clemson, Shane Ray from Missouri or Randy Gregory from Nebraska. Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. will likely be gone by the time the Falcons pick, but recent rumblings have suggested the front office isn’t opposed to trading up for the big man.

There have also been discussions – amongst Georgia fans, mostly – that the Falcons should take running back Todd Gurley if he’s available at No. 8 and all of Atlanta’s defensive prospects have already been picked. But let’s hope that the Falcons do something more constructive with that pick instead of getting another skill player, of which Atlanta has plenty.

Perhaps the Falcons could trade down and look at offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings out of Pittsburgh? reported he took a visit to speak with the Falcons last week, which could imply interest from both sides.

On the other hand, looking at general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s Draft Day history, it’s likely that the Falcons will trade up if they see their chances of getting a defensive lineman slipping away completely.

In the end, it’s paramount that the Falcons come away with a strong player to bolster a defensive line that had just 22 sacks in the entire 2014 season, tied for second-worst in the NFL.

Image: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

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