Aaron Donald-esque draft prospect might interest Falcons, Raheem Morris


The NFL Draft is Thursday, and the rumor fill is flowing at full speed with the Falcons being a focal point.

Not only is the club under the league’s microscope for their role in allegedly tampering with Kirk Cousins, but there’s been a lot of speculation about who the Falcons will select with their top pick.

Adam Schefter reported this morning that he believes a punishment could be coming soon, and that it is expected to be more severe than what the Eagles are facing, involving the loss of draft compensation.

As far as the actual draft goes, the Falcons have been connected to the pass rushers, most often it’s been Dallas Turner, but Laiatu Latu has surged recently.

The UCLA product is currently the favorite to be the Falcons pick. Over the weekend, betting odds shifted for the favorite to go 8th overall. Latu has overtaken Dallas Turner, who has been the expected pick for much of the offseason.

Schefter also added a little more fuel to the fire, reporting that Michael Penix could be Atlanta’s pick as well. To me, it seems like insiders are just throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what will stick.

Schefter didn’t stop at Penix either. In his piece for ESPN, he also connected the Falcons to Byron Murphy, who is considered a sleeper to be the first defender off the board and reminiscent of Aaron Donald.

It feels as if most mock drafts are predicting edge rusher Dallas Turner (Alabama) will be the first defensive player drafted Thursday night. And maybe he will be. But there are some front office executives who believe defensive tackle Byron Murphy II (Texas) has a realistic chance of seizing that honor.

It’s possible a defender might not be picked until Atlanta at No. 8 or Chicago at No. 9. Murphy could be a consideration for both teams. Murphy, who had five sacks last season, is talented, plays a coveted position and has gotten clean character reports. He might interest new Falcons coach Raheem Morris, who had Aaron Donald dominate at that position when he was the coordinator in Los Angeles.

Schefter isn’t the first to connect Murphy and Atlanta. Daniel Jeremiah said last week that the Texas product should be taken seriously as the potential top defender off the board.

“If you ask me who the surprise top 10 pick, or who is someone that we just didn’t see coming, that’s Byron Murphy,” Jeremiah said in response to a question from D. Orlando Ledbetter about Laiatu Latu’s medical concerns.

With Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata in the fold, the Falcons certainly don’t have a need for another interior defender, but it would be foolish to pretend it’s an impossibility.

“It’s a league that’s placed an ever more premium on defensive tackle. I was talking to a general manager this morning and I said when you look around the league and we ask ‘Who are the true impact dominant defensive tackles?’ Maybe seven or eight of them. Edge rushers, it goes a lot deeper than that,” DJ added.

The interior offensive and defensive lines have never been more valuable, and I could see the Falcons taking Byron Murphy. Raheem Morris needs more juice for the pass rush, but it may not necessarily have to come off the edge.

Photographer: Christopher Leduc/Icon Sportswire

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