The Athletic: Falcons bolster pass rush in Dane Brugler’s first NFL Mock Draft

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It’s officially draft season for some as we inch closer to more and more teams being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. But for some, like Dane Brugler, draft season is year-round. And he just released his first mock draft for The Athletic (subscription required); it’s no shock what direction Brugler goes for the Falcons — a pass rusher.

15. Atlanta Falcons: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State*

The Falcons rank near the bottom of the league in generating pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edges. A transfer from FCS-level Albany, Jared Verse is an active pass rusher with get-off speed and power through his frame to deconstruct blocks in different ways. He is among the best in the country at making plays in enemy territory (14.5 tackles for loss this season).

Verse hasn’t yet declared for the draft, but I’m all for Atlanta landing a dominant pass rusher. It’s something the team hasn’t had since signing John Abraham. And that weakness continues to plague the Falcons today. The edge unit is young but isn’t exactly menacing. Arnold Ebiketie has flashed and is promising; the former second-round pick looks primed to be a solid contributor for years. Unfortunately, Lorenzo Carter hasn’t been much better, and DeAngelo Malone‘s playing time has only slowly been ramping up until recently. With Ebiketie battling an injury, it could be an excellent opportunity for Malone to earn valuable reps.

Verse isn’t someone I’m intimately familiar with, but if Brugler likes the fit, so should you. There are several prospects I have watched that would excite me if the Falcons selected them. Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness is a massive human, is position flexible, and could provide an internal pass rush next to Grady Jarrett. Nolan Smith is another menacing defender that would bolster the edge, but he is coming off a significant upper body injury. It’s fairly simple: draft good players.

Photographer: Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire
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