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SB Nation Writers Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick #24

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No. 24

ATLANTA
FALCONS

Pick by The Falcoholic

James Laurinaitis
Middle linebacker

Ohio State

With offense intended toward no one else, Dave the Falconer fromThe Falcoholic has probably the best name in the entire SB Nation. Let's see if his pick explanation is as heroic as his name.

The Falcons are in a bit of a no-man's land with this pick. With most of the top outside linebackers and defensive tackles off the board, it fell to me to select someone who could immediately upgrade the defense. I rejected cornerbacks, given that we have one of the youngest corps in the league already, and all the defensive tackles and safeties left were borderline first rounders at best. Tough choice.

In the end, I went with Laurinaitis. A highly decorated college player, Laurinaitis eats a bowl of nails and fire for breakfast every morning and tops it off with a cold glass of motor oil. This tough choice is a tough kid, no doubt. We have our middle linebacker of the future in Curtis Lofton, so I would fully anticipate that the fast-learning Laurinaitis would move to the outside.

He doesn't have elite strength, but I fully believe he has the speed, intelligence and tackling ability to make that transition work.

Admittedly, the first two guys--Clint Sintim and Larry English--I would've picked here are already gone. While there may be players with higher upside, they don't play a position of needs for a Falcons defense that is still finding its identity. I'm a big believer in building a potent linebacking corps, and I do believe Laurinaitis will be a big part of that.

MTD thoughts: This is a good pick, considering the players left on the board. What will make it a successful would be determined by how well Laurinaitis can make the shift to playing weak-side linebacker. He's just not big enough for the strong side.

Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - CB Vontae Davis, RB Chris Wells, QB Mark Sanchez, DE Michael Johnson, RB LeSean McCoy