Mel Kiper pegs Falcons to draft to one of these two prospects

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We are at the home stretch. The NFL Draft is nearly here, and there doesn’t seem to be much agreement about who the Falcons will take.

Dallas Turner has been the popular pick for much of the offseason, but that narrative has begun to shift in the last couple of weeks. As of this morning, Turner and Laiatu Latu are the co-betting favorites to be the 8th pick, with both edge defenders sitting around +165 odds.

They’re followed by Byron Murphy and Rome Odunze at +650. Latu and Murphy have surged up draft boards and betting odds in recent weeks, but it’s truly anyone’s best guess.

The Godfather of Mock Drafts, Mel Kiper, believes that it will be one of two prospects, and it’s not the co-betting favorites, either. Kiper believes that the Falcons will take the first defender, but it’s between Turner and Murphy, not Latu.

The Falcons will take the first defensive player in the draft: I see this as edge rusher Dallas Turner (Alabama) or defensive tackle Byron Murphy II (Texas). The Falcons’ defensive line was rough last season. Atlanta finished 32nd in pass rush win rate (30.9%). I have Turner ranked higher on my board (No. 9 vs. No. 27), but many teams see Murphy as an impact interior pass-rusher, which has increased his value.

Murphy is a guy that might not appeal to many Falcons fans. After all, an interior defender? Atlanta already has a menacing interior duo of Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata. It’s a position of strength, and the edge unit is clearly in need of an influx of talent.

Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to rush the passer. A defense’s pass rush is made up of two primary components — coverage and pressure.

The Falcons need a cornerback and an edge defender, but pressure can come from anywhere, including the interior. Murphy may be an unconventional draft pick based on the team’s roster need; however, Terry Fontenot has never been shy about adding to a position of strength — à la Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.

There’s also a possibility that Atlanta trades out of the 8th pick to accumulate more draft picks and still takes a defender. Like I said, it’s anyone’s best guess a few hours away now.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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