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What top edge rushers said about the Falcons at the 2024 NFL Combine

Top edge rushers, including Dallas Turner and Laiatu Latu, spoke Wednesday. Here's what they had to say about potentially starting their NFL careers in Atlanta.

INDIANAPOLIS — Player availabilities have begun at the NFL Scouting Combine. The top pass rush prospects spoke to the media after meeting with several teams, including the Falcons, and before participating in on-field workouts Wednesday afternoon.

Our mock draft roundups have identified two reoccurring names for the Falcons first-round pick — edge rushers Dallas Turner of Alabama and Laiatu Latu of UCLA.

Here's an inside look at what Turner, Laitu and other top prospects said about the Falcons.


Laiatu Latu, UCLA

The Falcons are already very familiar with edge rusher Laiatu Latu. Latu played for defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake at Washington before transferring to UCLA in 2022.

"He's such a great coach," Latu said of Lake. " I was really hoping I got to see him but, I'll see him down the road."

Coordinators did not make the trip to the NFL Combine this year, so, while Lake is back in Atlanta, the Falcons contingent in Indianapolis met with Latu, which was his first meeting at the combine, and broke down the rusher's film.

Latu had to put a pause on his NFL dreams for a time when he was forced to medically retire following the 2020 season with a neck injury. That didn't stop Latu. He fought back and had a successful couple of years as a Bruin.

Latu recorded 100 total tackles, 35.5 for a loss and 24 sacks in four seasons.

"Being told you'll never be able to play football again," Latu said. "I never let it get the best of me."

Chop Robinson, Penn State

It's often said that players participating in the NFL Combine were born for this moment. Chop Robinson may actually have a legitimate case for the cliche.

Robinson was 14 pounds when he was born, earning the nickname, "Pork Chop," which was later shortened to, "Chop." Now, he's a 255-pound defensive end who could help fill a Falcons need on the edge.

Atlanta met with Robinson Tuesday. He said the conversation where they heavily talked football went well.

"It would mean a lot being in Atlanta," Robinson said. "Also, playing with a former Penn Stater, Arnold Ebiketie, just playing with him and learning from him and his routine and getting better every day."

Robinson registered 60 total tackles, 20 for a loss and 15 sacks in his three-season college career that started in Maryland before he transferred to Penn State his sophomore year.


Jared Verse, FSU

Jared Verse had an opportunity to participle in pre-draft activities as a projected first-round pick last year, but decided to play another season at FSU.

It wasn't because of his lack of physical attributes. Verse is confident in his 6-foot-6, 250-pound stature, but he wanted to take another year to polish the mental aspect of his game.

While he said those small technical details wouldn't matter as much at the college level, against tenured vets in the NFL? It would.

In two seasons with the Seminoles, Verse recorded 89 total tackles, 29.5 for a loss and 18 sacks.

General manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris spoke at length about drafting players who align with the Falcons' vision, and they've also repeatedly said this team in Atlanta isn't far from putting it all together. Verse could be one of those pieces.

"It would mean a lot to be out there, be that special piece, that would hopefully bring a team all the way together," Verse said.

Dallas Turner, Alabama

Dallas Turner is perhaps the most touted edge rusher in the draft pool.

Analysts have projected the Falcons to take Turner at No. 8 overall in all four mock draft round ups thus far. And for good reason.

Turner was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2023. In three seasons, he recorded 120 tackles, 32.5 for loss and 22.5 sacks.

The dominant outside linebacker met with the Falcons on Tuesday, one of 12 meetings he had with teams around the league. Turner said the conversation went well and the team got to know him personally.

Alabama talent is no stranger to translating to the NFL game, and the Falcons recently saw safety DeMarcco Hellams have a productive rookie year last season after being a Day 3 draft pick.

Whether the Falcons take Turner or not, he's likely to be the first edge rusher taken in the draft. So, what exactly sets him apart?

"My reading ability, my explosiveness, my versatility," Turner said. "... I feel like I'm the type of person (where) I can never get complacent."

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