It's understandable why the Atlanta Falcons would be enticed to move up from the sixth overall spot in the NFL draft to land a player the caliber of Jadeveon Clowney. But they shouldn't let public opinion influence their decision.
And they won't. That's not how general manager Thomas Dimitroff does business.
Sure, the fact that the Falcons are in South Carolina on Friday to put Clowney through some sort of testing or drills would indicate a high-level of interest. The high interest, however, has been there from the outset.
"Obviously, he is an incredible talent with wild upside," Dimitroff told me in February while discussing Clowney. "He's going to be a very big contributor on a football team from day one. We all know that. The league knows that. He has the potential to be one of the marquee-type pass-rushers."
Again, Dimitroff has reiterated his openness to trading up or down. Yet the Falcons have a more pressing need at offensive tackle. The Falcons, I believe, value protecting their quarterback more than securing a top-notch pass-rusher. That's why I see them remaining at No. 6 and getting one of the top three offensive tackles: Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, or Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
Even if the Houston Texans are willing to trade down from No. 1 with the Falcons, it's not like they are just going to surrender the top pick for a bargain price. Remember, the Washington Redskins moved up from No. 6 to No. 2 two years ago for quarterback Robert Griffin III, giving the St. Louis Rams three first-round picks and a second-rounder.
For a Falcons team still with a variety of needs to fill and depth to consider, surrendering a bunch of picks probably wouldn't be an ideal move, especially when they are likely to get the anchor to the offensive line without surrendering anything.
The pass-rusher void will be addressed. I like the potential of Auburn's Dee Ford falling to the Falcons in the second round. I also like the fire and determination third-year player Jonathan Massaquoi had in his tone when I bumped into him a few weeks back. He told me he was far from satisfied with his individual performance last season and plans to atone for it. He can't be overlooked as part of the solution to the pass rush woes.
If the Falcons are that much in love with Clowney, then they won't worry about having to pay him somewhere in the $22 million to $25 million range rather than having to pay somewhere near $16 million to $18 million for the sixth pick. If the Falcons are that much in love with Clowney, they won't worry about surrendering all those picks.
But I think the Falcons love quarterback Matt Ryan a little bit more. That's why I believe securing a tackle to help protect him will be their primary focus.