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Falcons could face competition in race to top of 2014 draft

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is widely viewed as a once-in-a-decade prospect that potentially will end up being the crown jewel of a deep and talented 2014 NFL Draft. Despite such lofty praise from scouts, the violent pass rusher might not be the perfect fit for the team that holds the first overall pick in the draft, the Houston Texans.

With only a few weeks until the commissioner takes the stage at Radio City Music Hall, talk has heated up that Houston could be open for business and looking to trade the first pick in exchange for additional help with their rebuilding process. One potential suitor jumped to the forefront of that talk on Friday as the Atlanta Falconsworked out Clowney using some cutting-edge athletic testing.

The team has demonstrated that they can make a bold move at the top of the draft after paying a small fortune to snag receiver Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. If the front office wants to attempt a similar move in this year's draft for Clowney however, they might find some stiff opposition from other franchises.

"My sense is that (the Falcons) view him as a fit and they view him as a good enough athlete, a good enough player that they will pay the price to move up and go and get him," NFL Media insider Albert Breer said on "NFL Total Access". "There's also going to be some competition to get up into that neighborhood. The Buffalo Bills could be looking to get up to get Clowney. The Detroit Lions could be looking to get up, perhaps to try and go get Sammy Watkins. So there's going to be some competition. What that could create is a market for another player other than Jadeveon Clowney, the player you're hearing some rumblings on there, Khalil Mack.

"If a team tries to go up and get Clowney and fails, they could be in the market for Khalil Mack."

That's not a bad market to be in all things considered as Clowney and Mack are considered two of the elite edge pass rushers in this year's draft. In his recent rankings, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah lists Mack as the fourth overall player in this year's class and second-best defensive player behind Clowney.

Given that there is depth at just about every position in this class except at pass rusher, you could see how teams covet both players enough to trade up for either one of them.

The Falcons own the sixth overall pick in the draft and selections near the top of every other round. It's certainly possible they could put together an enticing enough package for the Texans, but it remains to be seen if Bill O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith would be ok with trading that far down in the first round.

"The way that this draft stacks up, the top four players -- [Sammy] Watkins, Clowney, Mack and [Greg] Robinson -- are viewed as separate from the rest of the group," Breer said. "So teams that are in that top four might be reluctant to trade down too far."

Could we be in store for another monster trade reminiscent of when the Washington Redskins traded four early picks to the St. Louis Rams in 2012? We'll find out on May 8 if Clowney (or Mack) is truly worth the price for the Falcons or another NFL team.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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