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Dimitroff: Jadeveon Clowney can be marquee NFL pass rusher

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has thrown his support behind the idea of Atlanta adding South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, using his Twitter account to stump for the 6-foot-6, 274-pound phenom.

Turns out Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff agrees with one of his offensive standouts, telling ESPN.com that Clowney has the ability to become a "marquee" pass rusher at the next level.


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"When I first heard that he was the best that people had seen in 20 years or whenever, I was skeptical because I never fall into the trap of comparing people over that many years. But obviously, he is an incredible talent with wild upside. He's going to be a very big contributor on a football team from Day 1. We all know that. The league knows that," Dimitroff said.

Unfortunately for Dimitroff, White and the Falcons, it's highly unlikely Clowney will be available by the time the team is on the clock with the No. 6 overall pick. NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks each have Clowney being selected with the top pick by the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft.

And while the Falcons have been aggressive on draft day -- trading five picks, including two in the first round, to move into position to draft wide receiver Julio Jones in 2011 -- it would undoubtedly take an enormous haul to be in position to take Clowney. But Dimitroff won't rule out another blockbuster deal.

More realistic options for the Falcons to bolster a pass rush that produced 32 sacks this season (just the Bears and Jaguars had fewer) include Anthony Barr of UCLA and Khalil Mack of Buffalo. Each has the athleticism to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or line up at outside linebacker or defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.

Dimitroff praised both Barr and Mack, pointing to their versatility and athleticism. Each has the potential to be outstanding at the next level, but lacks the "wow" factor for Falcons fans that have watched Clowney terrorize the SEC for three seasons.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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