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D. Orlando LedbetterD. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons need a pass rusher still? Michael Sam is available

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FLOWERY BRANCH – Through the three rounds of the NFL draft, the Falcons have failed to fill a major need: Pass rusher.

Their attempts to trade up in the first round for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and for Auburn’s Dee Ford were unsuccessful.

In the second round, they selected Minnesota nose guard Ra’Shede Hageman and said they will convert him to a five-technique (run stopping) defensive end.

In the third round, they selected Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward, who was projected as a strong safety and to be taken in the fourth round by NFLDraftScout.com. The Falcons said that he will play free safety.

The Falcons still have seven picks over rounds four through seven today and still need a pass rusher.

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) puts pressure on Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) as Georgia Bulldogs offensive tackle Kolton Houston (75) attempts to block during their game at Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga., October 12, 2013. Missouri defeated Georgia 41-26. Murray threw for 290 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and had a fumble returned for a touchdown in the loss. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) puts pressure on Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) as Georgia Bulldogs offensive tackle Kolton Houston (75) attempts to block during their game at Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga., October 12, 2013. Missouri defeated Georgia 41-26. Murray threw for 290 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and had a fumble returned for a touchdown in the loss. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Could they select Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to enter the NFL draft?

Sam, who earned the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year, had 48 total tackles, 19 for a loss and led the conference with 11.5 sacks. He’s a potential edge-rusher and could be a core special teams players.

He’s been projected to be selected in the fifth round by NFLDraftScout.com

At the NFL combine we talked to Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff about Sam.

 “I really think that the NFL is quite evolved and I think it continues to be very progressive and is at the front of the curve as far as sport and as far as approaches,” Dimitroff said. “Our commissioner is at the front of that. We took his lead and it’s been a really good lead as far as being open about the next wave, the next generation of whether if it’s technology or whether if it’s acceptance.”

He was asked if drafting Sam would be a distraction in a NFL locker room (not specifically the Falcons locker room, mind you).

“I’ve always said that distractions are a matter of definition for a team,” Dimitroff said. “Some people can deal with what them … this situation shouldn’t be perceived as a distraction. This is an individual who’s being evaluated as a football player, first and foremost.

“Like any organization that is evaluating, you evaluate the player and then his character and his soul and how he projects into the NFL. That’s what it’s about.”

Here are the Falcons remaining draft picks:

  • Round 4 – No. 103 overall
  • Round 4 – No. 139 overall (compensatory)
  • Round 5 – No. 147 overall
  • Round 6 – No. 182 overall
  • Round 7 – No. 220 overall
  • Round 7 – No. 253 overall (compensatory)
  • Round 7 – No. 255 overall (compensatory)

FALCONS’ DRAFT BOARD

–A look at Louisville LB Preston Brown

–A look at Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

–A look at Texas OLB/DE Jackson Jeffcoat

–A look at West Virginia RB Charles Sims

–A look at Auburn DE Dee Ford

–A look at Brigham Young OLB Kyle Van Noy

–A look at Arizona State OLB/DE Carl Bradford

--A look at Missouri DE Kony Ealy

–A look at Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro

–A look at Alabama S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix

–A look at Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman

–A look at Boston College QB Chase Rettig

–A look at Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas

–A look at Central Florida RB Storm Johnson

–A look at USC TE Xavier Grimble

–A look at Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort

–A look at Louisville S Calvin Prior

–A look at Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier

–A look at Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde

–A look at UCLA LB Anthony Barr

–A look at Florida State C Bryan Stork

–A look at South Carolina QB Connor Shaw

–A look at Florida TE/WR Trey Burton

–BLOG: A list of the confirmed players at LOCALS DAY on Tuesday

–BLOG: FSU linebacker Telvin Smith visited the Falcons on Monday

–Falcons check out Towson State RB Terrance West, CB Jordan Love (UGA transfer)

–MyAJC ($): Eye-test vs. Tape-measure test: Falcons must trust their eyes during draft prep. 

2014 NFL DRAFT CENTRAL

–Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons trade out of sixth spot to land Pryor and Ebron

–12 teams who could draft UGA star Aaron Murray

–Louisville LB Preston Brown to work out for the Falcons

–Louisville DE Marcus Smith to work out for the Falcons

–MyAJC ($): OT Greg Robinson, DE Dee Ford shine at Auburn’s Pro Day

–VIDEO: Tackle Greg Robinson on Auburn’s Pro Day

–VIDEO: Running back Tra Mason on Auburn’s Pro Day

–Blog & VIDEO: Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has stellar Pro Day showing

–VIDEO: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins on his Pro Day

 

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