A couple of weeks ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars brought in a lengthy cast of the NFL draft's elite prospects for visits, all within a few days. Now, the red carpet has apparently been shipped to Atlanta.
The Falcons will host defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr, and offensive linemen Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews -- a group which could ultimately make up half of the draft's top 10 picks -- over the next two days, NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter. Barr and Robinson will be in Atlanta Tuesday, while Clowney, Mack and Matthews will see the Falcons on Wednesday.
Atlanta holds the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff indicated at the NFL Scouting Combine that the club would be open to trading up to a higher choice. To get Clowney, the former South Carolina star who could be the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans, that would almost certainly be necessary. As for Barr, Mack, Robinson and Matthews, the Falcons could trade up to secure one of them, or hold at No. 6 and hope their choice is available without a trade. If Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a quarterback or two are drafted in the top five, that would help push more of Atlanta's visitors this week down to the No. 6 pick.
The Falcons have shown a willingness to make a bold trade move in the first round, having moved up in the first round to draft wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 6 in 2011. But that means the club also has a keen understanding of the cost of moving up. The Jones deal cost Atlanta two first-round picks, a second-rounder, and a pair of fourth-rounders. The club is now two years removed from having to sit out any Jones-related draft holes.
If Clowney is their man, they may be willing to sit out a few more.