In the first edition of Mel Kiper's mock draft, the ESPN analyst has Atlanta taking Clemson DE Kevin Dodd with the No. 17 overall pick.
Despite being a long three months out from the Draft, early projections are formulating.
The Falcons have selected a defensive player with their first pick in two of the last three drafts, OLB Vic Beasley, Jr. (2015) and CB Desmond Trufant (2013).
From the moment Dan Quinn arrived in Atlanta last February, the head coach has continuously emphasized the importance of developing a fast and physical brand of football, which begins in the trenches.
Quinn's defensive background combined with the depth and talent in this year's draft class, it comes as no surprise that Kiper would choose a defensive end to be Atlanta's first-round pick.
"There are a lot of good defensive linemen," Kiper said of the position group with the most depth. "Defensive line and corner are the strongest positions in this draft by a mile. In fact, 20 of the 31 first-round picks (in Kiper's mock draft) were defensive players. 11 of those 20 players were defensive linemen."
Dodd is coming off a stellar performance in Clemson's recent loss to Alabama in the CFP National Championship Game, where he finished the night with three sacks. The 275 pound redshirt junior also finished second in the nation in tackles for loss with 23.5 in 2015.
Below is Kiper's breakdown of Dodd in his mock draft:
"Shaq Lawson led the nation in tackles for loss, but Dodd was right there with him, No. 2 in the nation, and a constant presence in the backfield. The Falcons added pass-rush help with Vic Beasley last year, but is Beasley an every-down player? At 275 pounds, Dodd has the frame to hold up against the run and should help a D-line that lacks depth."