When Atlanta Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank announced the future direction of his team Dec. 29th, the spotlight focused on the imminent hiring of a new a head coach, but also accompanied other issues, such as the pressing need for an improved pass rush.
"I obviously do think we have a lot of talent," Blank said. "Clearly, we have not had the kind of pass rush for a number of years that I think is important in this league. You can turn an ordinary quarterback into looking like a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or some version of that if they have plenty of time. ... In my opinion, pressure is a really big deal, and we have not had pressure, we just have not, for a variety of reasons."
Quotes such as those from Blank fuel further opinions of NFL Draft analysts, each forming mock drafts for the upcoming event to be held April 30-May 2 in Chicago.
One such analyst, ESPN's Todd McShay, shared his thoughts on how Blank's team may look to enhance its pass rush via the draft with the No. 8 overall pick.
"They're going to wind up in a position to get a good player," McShay said via conference call. "If I'm them, I'm hoping that a Randy Gregory (Nebraska OLB) or a Shane Ray (Missouri DE) falls to them and they are able to get a player that's a little bit more explosive, but (Florida Gators DE Dante) [Fowler](http://www.nfl.com/draft/2015/profiles/dante-fowler, jr.?id=2552437) is a versatile defensive lineman, too.
"He's 6-foot-2, 270 pounds and has played inside, played outside and can drop a little bit; he does a little bit of everything. I just love the way he plays the game. I think he has one of the highest motors of any player, he and Shane Ray are two guys that just never quit."
Among other potential defensive stars mentioned by McShay, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley is a possibility as an "OLB fit, who can provide pass rush."
Beasley's 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame was a key factor in producing record-setting stats for the Tigers. He ranks first in school history in sacks, fourth in tackles for loss and tied for seventh in forced fumbles
"There are defensive linemen there," McShay said. "When you're picking that early and you have a quarterback in Matt Ryan, you have to get an impact player at either offensive tackle or a pass rusher, and that's just my opinion. If it works out that way, I think with a pass rusher, you have a much better shot than an offensive tackle, because I just don't know that there is an elite offensive tackle in this class."