Jeremiah: Atlanta Falcons will draft pass rusher with No. 8 pick

There aren't many things safe to assume heading into the 2015 NFL Draft, but the Atlanta Falcons addressing a big need on defense? That might just be one of them.

After all, the franchise has a new head coach in former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and the Falcons failed to put up much of a fight on that side of the ball down the stretch of a 6-10 season in 2014. That's part of the reason why NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks the team is a lock to take one of the top edge rushers available when it comes time to pick at No. 8 overall.

"Four and a half sacks led the Atlanta Falcons last year and to put that in perspective, that's tied for 85th in the NFL," Jeremiah said on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" on Tuesday. "This is their No. 1 need and this is where they will go with the No. 8 overall pick. I look at four names: Vic Beasley, Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory and Shane Ray. Any one of these guys would be a great value pick."

In his latest mock draft, Jeremiah has the team taking Gregory, the former Nebraska star, with its first-round selection and he would certainly have the ability to boost the pass rush from the outside linebacker spot as a rookie. NFL Media's Mike Mayock ranks Gregory as the fourth-best edge rusher available in the draft and it's possible that he will still be on the board when the Falcons pick at No. 8.

In addition to grabbing a big-time defensive player, Jeremiah also sees the Atlanta front office trying to find more help for quarterback Matt Ryan. While the Falcons have needs on the offensive line, Jeremiah sees them providing a boost at the tight end position in the later rounds.

"Nick O'Leary, he'd be a great fit for Matt Ryan," Jeremiah said. "He catches everything and is very instinctive. He didn't run that fast at the combine but that doesn't bother me. (He's a) fourth- or fifth-round value."

It's still early in the offseason, but it's safe to say the players Jeremiah mentioned make sense for Atlanta.

Add in the fact that Gregory is training in Atlanta -- with former Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith, no less -- and there's reason to think Gregory landing with the Falcons would make for a very nice fit.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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