Posted: 9:32 am Saturday, May 10th, 2014
By D. Orlando Ledbetter
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.
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
2014 NFL DRAFT CENTRAL
–Blog & VIDEO: Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has stellar Pro Day showing
–VIDEO: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins on his Pro Day