<
>

Mel Kiper thinks Falcons target another Clemson player

When we caught up with ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. on Monday, he saw the Atlanta Falcons targeting injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith with the No. 17 overall pick.

That was before Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd declared for the draft.

In Kiper's first mock draft for 2016, he changed his tune and went with the 6-foot-5-inch, 275 pound Dodd for the Falcons, while dropping Smith to the New York Jets at No. 20.

I agree with Kiper that the Falcons will target either help on the defensive line or at linebacker. Judging by Dodd's performance in the national title game against Alabama, he wouldn't be a bad option.

Dodd had three sacks against the Crimson Tide and showed outstanding quickness in a 45-40 loss. For the season, Dodd finished with 12 sacks, 23.5 tackles for losses, six quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble, and a blocked kick.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said bolstering the offensive and defensive lines will be an emphasis this offseason. The Falcons finished last in the league with 19 sacks.

How interesting it would be if the Falcons target Dodd a year after selecting Clemson pass-rusher Vic Beasley in the first round and Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett in the fifth round. There's nothing wrong with a Tiger reunion, if it will help the Falcons get after opposing quarterbacks and keep running backs from gashing them.

We'll see how Dodd progresses throughout the draft process. He emerged this season after being a reserve his first two years.