Round 1 Pick 24 (Trade with Raiders)
Dexter Lawrence – Defensive Tackle, Clemson
The Atlanta Falcons have five main needs that need to be filled in the 2019 NFL draft. In no particular order those needs are edge rusher, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, cornerback and backup center. Atlanta General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has a reputation for trading up rather than trading down. However if the Falcons are able to trade back and pick up and extra early round draft pick, it would allow the team to fill all five of those needs with quality players in the first three rounds.
In this scenario Atlanta trades down, moving pick 14 to the Oakland Raiders for pick number 24 in round one and pick number three in round two. Defensive tackle is a main need for the Atlanta Falcons, despite the underrated signing of run stopping specialist Tyler Davidson from New Orleans to a one year deal. Atlanta can go in one of two directions when filling the hole on the interior line of scrimmage. They can either draft a quicker gap shooting tackle, or a massive interior defensive lineman who commands a double team to help clog up the run game and replace the void left by Dontari Poe.
With the 24th pick in the Atl All Day Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select Defensive Tackle Dexter Lawrence of Clemson. Lawrence is a giant man, standing 6’4 and weighing 342 pounds. He is a three-year starter and two-time National Champion. He’s also a two-time all All Conference performer and one time USA Today All American, while anchoring one of the nation’s best defensive lines.
The Dirty Birds would be smart to find a way to get Dexter Lawrence on their football team. Many experts and fans believe that Atlanta could be looking for a potential future replacement for Grady Jarrett. The star defensive tackle will play the 2019 season under the franchise tag barring the completion of a long-term deal prior to July 15. Rather than look for an heir apparent, Atlanta should work out that long-term deal and look for a player that will make Jarrett even better. That player is Dexter Lawrence.
Dexter Lawrence just can not be blocked by most defensive linemen without help, with his combination of mass and strength. Having a behemoth like Lawrence would allow Grady Jarrett to see many more one on one opportunities. He would also help star middle linebacker Deion Jones flow to the ball even more freely, by occupying centers and guards to prevent them from getting to the second level. This move would give the Dirty Birds a great shot at returning to a top ten run defense, and a top 10 defense overall.
Detractors will question using a first round pick on a potential two-down player, but Lawrence is much more than that. He is extremely quick and athletic, for a man who owns his size and strength. This is evident by him setting a Clemson freshman record with 6.5 sacks in 2016. Pass rushing is certainly not the best quality that Dexter Lawrence possesses, however if the coaching staff can help him add a counter move to his advanced bull rush, he could be a Pro Bowl caliber player. Regardless Lawrence offers value as a run stuffing one or zero technique defensive tackle and will not be a liability when teams do throw on early downs.
In this scenario we elect to trade down and take Lawrence, rather than selecting his teammate Christian Wilkins who plays the same three technique position that Grady Jarrett does. Click the following link to view the Atl All Day Dexter Lawrence scouting report. The scouting report on his teammate Christian Wilkins can be found by clicking here. Offensive tackle Jonah Williams, cornerback Greedy Williams and edge rusher Brian Burns could all be strong available options for Atlanta, should they elect to stay at pick number 14.
2015: 62 tackles, 8.5 tfl, 6.5 sacks, 2 fr, 1 pd
Expert Opinion: Lance Zierlein NFL.com
Pro Comparison: Shaun Rodgers (Lions)
Projection: Round 1
"Massive defensive tackle with the size, length, power and relative athleticism to play a variety of positions in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front. While Lawrence certainly has his share of flashes on tape, he’s never really turned into the playmaker that many expected him to become after his freshman year. However, many of the best defenses in the NFL have had interior linemen with the traits and power Lawrence possesses. While he has the ability to play in any scheme, he might be at his best as a read-and-react run-stuffer with the ability to stymie running games with his size and force."
Pro Football Focus Breaks Down Dexter Lawrence in their Film Room on their YouTube channel: