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Nfl.com Draft Rumors: Players Connected With The Falcons

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College Football 24/7 takes a look at the buzz surrounding the NFC South teams leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Atlanta Falcons

First-round spot: 6

» Falcons' 2014 draft picks | Draft history

The Atlanta Falcons are a year removed from having the NFC's top playoff seed. Yet, the team fell on hard times in 2013 and finds itself picking near the top of the draft. This will give a team already owning a host of playmakers an opportunity to reload for a return to the playoff chase in 2014.


Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida

April 29: Half brother of Sammy Watkins visits teams

Watkins has certainly parlayed his 4.41 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine into a busy pre-draft schedule. The half brother of Clemson star Sammy Watkins has reportedly visited the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, and performed private workouts for the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Watkins has experience at both cornerback and safety, and projects as a mid-round draft pick.


Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

April 25: Clowney undergoes 'force plate' testing

The Falcons used what they called a "cutting-edge athletic performance program" Friday on Clowney. That Clowney is doing the test for the Falcons, who own the sixth pick in the draft, has led to speculation that Atlanta wants to acquire the No. 1 overall pick from Houston.

Solomon Patton, WR, Florida

April 25: Shifty WR worked out for Falcons

Patton played in the Reese's Senior Bowl, but was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He played in a horrible passing offense at Florida, but showed an ability to be dangerous with the ball in his hands; he also did a nice job on jet sweeps and has the potential to be a solid return man. He seems likely to be a sixth-rounder, at best, and could end up as a priority free agent. He would be a nice fit in the slot for the Falcons.

Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina

April 24: Falcons to work out Ellington

Ellington (5-foot-9, 197 pounds), who has good speed and is elusive, looks to be a second-day pick. He would be an intriguing fit with the Falcons, who already have WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White. Falcons QB Matt Ryan likely would smile when he looked out and saw Jones and White wide and Ellington in the slot (that's also a look that would make some secondaries cringe). Ellington was a weapon on jet sweeps in college and has the ability to be a dangerous return man. Atlanta picks fifth (37th overall) in the second round, but that's too early for Ellington; the Falcons pick fourth (68th overall) in the third round and Ellington certainly could entice them there.

Yawin Smallwood, OLB, Connecticut

April 24: Falcons worked out productive LB

Smallwood (6-foot-2¼, 246 pounds) was a productive player at UConn, finishing his three-year career -- each of which was played for a different coordinator -- with 332 tackles and 27 tackles for loss; he started every game in his career. While Atlanta has some young linebackers who played key roles in 2013, Smallwood -- who seems likely to go on the draft's third day, though a third-round selection is possible -- would seem to be a good fit in Atlanta's system. He played in the middle at UConn but looks to have the needed tools to be a weak-side 'backer in the NFL.


Dee Ford, DE-OLB, Auburn

April 22: Notable pass rusher visits with Falcons

Ford (6-foot-2, 252 pounds) was part of a large contingent of top prospects visiting with the Falcons on Tuesday. Ford is a one-trick pony of sorts, but that one "trick" is his pass-rushing ability. Ford had 10.5 sacks in 2013 and 20.5 in his career. While he was an end at Auburn, he could be a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is seen as fitting late in the first round or early in the second. Atlanta is not going to be interested with its No. 6 overall pick, but definitely could be with its pick in the second round (37th overall). They might have to trade up if they really want him, though.

April 22: Falcons hosting group of top prospects

The Falcons will host defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr, and offensive linemen Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews -- a group which could ultimately make up half of the draft's top 10 picks -- NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

April 21: Top back to meet with Falcons

Hyde (6-foot, 230 pounds) has a chance to be the first running back drafted. But how early will he go? Atlanta is not going to be interested in the first round, and the Falcons draft fifth (37th overall) in the second round. Hyde worked out for the Falcons last week and will meet with them this week, so there obviously is some interest. Hyde has had success in a one-back offense, and despite being at his best running between the tackles, he also has enough speed to turn the corner. He is a physical, downhill runner who has shown he can handle a heavy workload. His receiving ability looks OK, and he is a good blocker.

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

April 16: Falcons host Amaro for visit

Amaro (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) is considered one of the top three tight ends in the draft. Despite his size, he is a far better receiver than blocker; he had 106 receptions in 2013, his first season as a full-time player. He spent most of his time split wide and rarely played in a set that used a "conventional" tight end. In the aftermath of the Tony Gonzalez retirement, the Falcons signed TE John Carlson in free agency but definitely could be interested in Amaro with the fifth pick in the second round.

Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State

April 15: Falcons meeting with Utah State cornerback

Lawson (5-foot-9½, 190 pounds), who was born in Jamaica and went to high school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., lacks size but is quick, has good speed (4.48 in the 40 at February's NFL Scouting Combine) and plays with a fearless attitude. He was a three-year starter for the Aggies who had six interceptions and 34 pass breakups in his career. He also is physical and more than willing in run support. He appears to be a mid-round selection and could fit in as a backup behind starting corners Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, both of whom were drafted in 2013. Atlanta also signed CB Josh Wilson in free agency.

Justin Jones, WR-TE, East Carolina

April 15: Big receiver to work out for Falcons

Jones is an interesting prospect, albeit one who is far from finished. While he was a wide receiver at ECU, he fits best as a tight end in the NFL. Plus, he didn't play last season for the Pirates because he was ineligible academically. Never a full-time starter, Jones (6-foot-8, 277 pounds) nevertheless is an intriguing prospect because of his size and athleticism. His vertical jump has been measured at 37.5 inches, and he also bench-pressed 400 pounds. But all that potential never really translated to the field: He finished his ECU career with 52 receptions for 598 yards and 12 TDs in 32 games. It seems doubtful he will be drafted, but a team could take a late-round flier on him because of his perceived upside; he also could be a priority free agent.

Brandon Watts, LB, Georgia Tech

April 14: Local LB to work out for Falcons

Watts (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) didn't attend February's NFL Scouting Combine but was clocked in 4.41 seconds at Georgia Tech's pro day. Watts was a two-year starter for the Jackets, who used both a 4-3 and a 3-4 set when he was in school. He probably fits best as an outside 'backer in a 4-3. He will work out for Atlanta on Tuesday and already has had private workouts with San Diego and New England. Watts would seem to be a priority free agent, but his athleticism and versatility could lead to him sneaking into the sixth or seventh round. He made 143 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, in his final two seasons for the Yellow Jackets.

Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State

April 12: Pass-rushing LB meets with Falcons

Atlanta is on the lookout for a pass rusher and could be interested in Bradford (6-foot-1, 250 pounds), who had a combined 20 sacks in 2012 and '13. His pass-rush skills make him a somewhat coveted prospect who should go on the second day of the draft. The Falcons pick fifth in the second round (37th overall), which is too early for Bradford; they pick fourth in the third round (68th overall), which seems to be more in line with conventional thinking. Bradford also has met with Jacksonville, Miami and San Diego. The Chargers pick 25th in the second round (57th overall), which also makes sense for Bradford. Bradford has a connection with Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart: Bradford was coached at Norco (Calif.) High by Gerhart's dad.


Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

April 11: Falcons bring Verrett to Flowery Branch

Verrett is in the middle of an NFC South swing of visits. According to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport, the former TCU corner, rated fifth at his position in NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's rankings, stopped by the Panthers and visited the Falcons on Friday. He also made a recent visit to the Cardinals too.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State

April 11: Falcons showing interest in Boise State pass rusher

The Atlanta Falcons' interest in a pass rusher for next month's draft is extending to Lawrence, as the 6-3, 251-pounder is reportedly visiting the club. Lawrence was the top pass rusher in the Mountain West Conference last year, and could give Atlanta some much-needed pressure on opposing quarterbacks. According to NFL.com's scouting report on Lawrence, he "should contribute readily on passing downs."

Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU

April 9: Falcons hosting visit by Van Noy

Van Noy (6-foot-3, 243 pounds) is seen as a likely second-round pick; he also could fit late in the first round. He had 23 sacks and 54 tackles for loss in his final three seasons at BYU. Van Noy played in a 3-4 defense with the Cougars and would fit nicely into Atlanta's 3-4; the Falcons -- who signed Osi Umenyiora in free agency -- could use a young playmaking outside 'backer. Atlanta picks fifth in the second round.


Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

April 1: Lewan works out for Falcons

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff clearly wasn't sending out a smokescreen earlier this offseason when he spoke of his team's need to add more size and toughness at the line of scrimmage. What's less clear is whether Dimitroff considers that need satisfied yet, and with the team conducting a private workout Monday with former Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, the answer might be no.

De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

March 30: Report: Thomas has private workout with Falcons

The Falcons held a private workout March 29 with Thomas, according to the National Football Post. A projected second-day draft pick (Rounds 2-3), Thomas has rare speed and could be a big-time playmaker as a back, slot receiver and kick returner in the NFL. He lacks size, though. At 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, his durability is a concern.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa

March 26: Falcons among teams set to meet with Fiedorowicz

Fiedorowicz was worked out by Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes at Iowa's pro day, but will perform private workouts on the Iowa campus for the Cowboys and Texans. He has scheduled visits in the coming weeks with the Buccaneers, Falcons, Lions and Patriots, too.

Charles Leno, OT, Boise State

March 19: Falcons work out Leno at pro day

Conventional wisdom has the tackle-needy Falcons grabbing an offensive tackle with the No. 6 pick in May's draft. But the top of the first round seems more fluid than usual for this time of the year. Atlanta worked out Charles Leno Jr.. If the Falcons are impressed enough with Leno or Nevada OT Joel Bitonio, it's extremely likely both would be available early in the second round, and that could potentially enable the Falcons to go a different route in the first round.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

March 9: Ebron would welcome chance to replace Tony Gonzalez

While mock drafts have the Falcons filling a need at offensive tackle with the sixth overall pick, they are likely to have a chance to take Ebron, the top tight end in the draft, with that pick. Ebron told sportingnews.com he wouldn't be intimidated by the challenge of replacing surefire Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who retired after last season. "I would love to play for the Falcons," Ebron said, per the report. "Julio Jones, Roddy White and Matt Ryan -- I would love to play with those guys. Those are big shoes to fill, which I'm not afraid of. I can't walk into the league expecting to be Tony G. I'm just going to compete as hard as I can as myself."

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Guest King Jigsaw

KOG will enjoy that little write up on Smallwood. He and I had a conversation about him yesterday.

Thanks for posting.

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why in the heck are we working out Jason Verrett? I know he is a poor man's Brent Grimes but we cannot afford to take Verrett with our 2nd round pick - if he even dropped that far. - think that one is smoke.

Where have you been? Lol. This was a large thread a week ago haha

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why in the heck are we working out Jason Verrett? I know he is a poor man's Brent Grimes but we cannot afford to take Verrett with our 2nd round pick - if he even dropped that far. - think that one is smoke.

Do you see how many CBs we have worked out?

Is it that hard to believe that somebody is moving to Safety? The possibility just keeps becoming stronger and stronger ot seems.

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Do you see how many CBs we have worked out?

Is it that hard to believe that somebody is moving to Safety? The possibility just keeps becoming stronger and stronger ot seems.

Still kinda worries me. We clearly had action with Bush, so is this just our backups backup plan?

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Do you see how many CBs we have worked out?

Is it that hard to believe that somebody is moving to Safety? The possibility just keeps becoming stronger and stronger ot seems.

There's a very good chance that the Falcons will take a CB much higher than we all anticipated. And there's some chance that he plays FS for us in 2014.

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