Lawson Interested in Clemson Reunion:Defensive end Shaq Lawson said on Thursday that he'd like to be drafted by the Falcons and join fellow Clemson products Vic Beasley, Jr., Grady Jarrett and Malliciah Goodman in Atlanta. Lawson is one of the best pass-rushers in this year's class—as is fellow Tiger Kevin Dodd. Lawson and Dodd finished first and second in the country in tackles for loss, respectively, and combined for 23 sacks. Both are viewed as first-round picks.
"I really think my game fits in Atlanta," Lawson told AtlantaFalcons.com. "I bring a lot to the run game and a lot to the pass game and (can) boost that pass rush. To go along with Vic on the side and Grady in the middle—it can be dangerous."
O-Linemen Flash Speed, Strength: Speed isn't always an important trait when it comes to offensive linemen, but in Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, it's important for Atlanta's OL to move well. Among those who shined at the 40-yard dash was Ryan Kelly. The former Alabama center ran an unofficial time of 5.03 seconds, third-best among interior offensive linemen. He's widely viewed as the best C available.
On the bench press, guard Christian Westerman turned heads with 34 reps—the most among offensive linemen. (He's reportedly notched 41 reps at one point.) A good pass protector who moves well enough to thrive in an outside zone blocking scheme—he ran a 5.17 40—the 6-foot-3, 298-pounder may be the most underrated G at the combine. CBS Sports projects he'll go in the second or third round.
Smith Could Miss 2016: Jaylon Smith, perhaps the most skilled linebacker in this class, said on Thursday there's no nerve damage from his torn ACL and MCL suffered last season. However, NFL Network's Ian Rappaport revealed numerous NFL teams expect the Notre Dame LB to sit out all of 2016.
A top 10-worthy pick if he were at full health, Smith's draft stock will likely plummet in the coming months. Given his remarkable talent, and given the Falcons' needs at linebacker, he may be worth a look as a long-term project.
Ragland Sheds Weight: Reggie Ragland, a Falcons target in plenty of mock drafts, has dropped 12 pounds in the last month according to his weigh-in on Thursday. The Alabama linebacker promised to get lighter in January, and it appears he's done just that. We'll find out later this week if his weight loss has made him faster.
Nkemdiche Opens Up: Robert Nkemdiche, a native of Loganville, Ga., said on Thursday that he'd like to be selected by Atlanta, joining Hunter Henry and William Fuller as self-proclaimed Falcons fans in the 2016 draft class.
With an impressive frame (6-foot-3, 294 pounds) and a rare blend of strength and explosiveness, the Ole Miss defensive tackle is certainly a first-round talent. Question is, will his off-field troubles severely damage his draft stock? Nkemdiche was arrested and charged with marijuana possession last year and was subsequently suspended for the Sugar Bowl.
"It was a rash decision and uncharacteristic by me. That's not who I am," Nkemdiche said of the incident. "That's not what I stand for. That's not what my family stands for. It was embarrassing for me and my whole family, and the Ole Miss family."