The Atlanta Falcons have not been shy about being aggressive to get what they want in recent years. Of particular note is the trade that was made to get wide receiver Julio Jones in 2011. Now the rumor mill is spinning once again with the talk centered on South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The Falcons could definitely benefit from the impact of the best defensive player in this draft, but he'd cost an awful lot to acquire.
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Atlanta traded five picks to the Cleveland Browns to move from No. 27 in the first round to No. 6, ultimately sending No. 27, No. 59 and No. 124 from 2011 and then its first- and fourth-round picks from 2012 to acquire Jones. If the Falcons want to move up this year, it should take a bit less given that they are already picking at No. 6 and don't have to jump from the back end of the draft. Still, with the rookie wage scale in place, teams generally don't want out of the top two or three picks, so general manager Thomas Dimitroff has his work cut out for him.
With the draft right around the corner, the rumor mill is heating up. Here are some other draft rumors from this past week:
Johnny Manziel-Bucs connection won't go away
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would "seriously consider" drafting Johnny Manziel if the quarterback fell to them at No. 7. This is a fairly standard report, given that the Buccaneers likely are looking for a new quarterback and Manziel is one of the top signal callers coming out this year. But this has a bit more weight, given that it is the fourth report in recent weeks linking the Buccaneers to Manziel.
In the past, head coach Lovie Smith had good things to say about the Texas A&M product, saying that it doesn't really matter that Manziel isn't "your prototypical quarterback." He is one of the quarterbacks the Buccaneers have brought in for official visits. Of course, this could all be a smokescreen, as it's plenty close enough to the actual draft for teams to kick that into high gear.
Texans trade rumors
The Houston Texans hold the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and what they're going to do with said pick has been the primary topic of discussion. Some years we know for sure which player is going to go first, but that's usually when there's a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback and a team that clearly needs one. The Texans definitely need one, but a quarterback isn't the best player in this draft. That would be Clowney.
Clowney would certainly help the Texans -- he'd help any team in the NFL -- but him being there has fueled an awful lot of rumors regarding the team potentially trading down. The latest report suggests that multiple teams expect the Texans to trade down, and the folks over at Battle Red Blog are speculating on what that could mean. It seems to bode well for the aforementioned Falcons if the Texans are willing to drop down five spots.
Taylor Lewan is the man for Raiders
While Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Greg Robinson of Auburn are generally considered the top offensive tackles in the upcoming draft, the Oakland Raiders reportedly have their sights set on another prospect (who would have thought?): Michigan's Taylor Lewan. They're not exactly reaching here, as Lewan has been considered by many to be one of the best offensive linemen coming out this season, but the fact that the Raiders consider him better than both Matthews and Robinson is significant.
The Raiders have a long, long list of draft needs, especially in the first round. The team needs a quarterback, but Matt Schaub appears to be that guy in the near future. Protecting Schaub should be the top priority in this case, and it's sounding a lot like Lewan could be the guy on the left side if Oakland gets its way.
49ers could be 'very aggressive'
The San Francisco 49ers have made it to three consecutive NFC Championship games, two of which they have lost. One took them to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. They're indisputably in "win now" mode, and for good reason. They're just a couple pieces away from putting it all together, which is why it's not surprising to hear that they could be "very aggressive" when draft day comes. Many expect the 49ers to target a wide receiver or cornerback in the first round, and given the deep classes at both positions, the 49ers should be able to move up from No. 30 to find somebody. How high they'll move is anybody's guess, but many expect a run of receivers in the middle of the first round.
Rams also in on Manziel?
The St. Louis Rams have two first-round picks, and they're now being linked to Manziel. St. Louis has the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft and the No. 13. It's unclear if this means the Rams would take Manziel at No. 13 if he fell, or if the reports are suggesting that they'd be interested in taking him as high as No. 2. Manziel isn't considered the top quarterback this year, but the top guys are all considered starting candidates in their first year, and if the Rams like what they see, there really is no such thing as too high a price to pay for a starting quarterback.