Falcons select pass rusher in latest CBS Sports mock draft
It's no secret that most mock drafts have the Atlanta Falcons going defense in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The latest mock draft from CBS Sports didn't differ, as Iowa edge rusher A.J. Epenesa landed with the Falcons at No. 16 in Will Brinson's newest mock.
"Atlanta's always in the market for a pass rusher and should absolutely be looking for help on defense heading into this season," Brinson wrote.
Epenesa has been one of a couple different edge rushers connected to the Falcons this mock draft season. CBS Sports ranks him the third-best defensive line prospect available in the 2020 class behind Chase Young and Derrick Brown.
Epenesa led Iowa with 11.5 sacks in 13 games last season. He also had 14.5 tackles for loss, nine quarterback hurries, four forced fumbles, three pass breakups and 49 total tackles.
The Falcons have already made some changes to their defense this offseason. The team essentially swapped Vic Beasley for Dante Fowler, both of whom are former first-round picks, when free agency began. Beasley had one great season with the Falcons in 2016 while Fowler had a slow start to his career with the Jaguars but made a bigger impact over the last two seasons with the Rams.
The question for Fowler will be whether he can continue to get to the quarterback playing on a defense without two-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. Similar to the Rams' defense, a lot of attention goes to the middle of the Falcons defense in Grady Jarrett, but the Falcons do need to add another edge presence to compliment Fowler. Epenesa could be just the right fit.
"He can play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 and could leap from good to great with additional work on technique and explosiveness," wrote Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.
Stay tuned for more draft coverage as the date nears.