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NFL Mock Draft 2013: Can Alex Okafor solve the Falcons' pass rushing problems?

Atlanta has little in the way of a pass-rusher outside of the aging John Abraham? Will they go that direction in April's draft?

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Falcons fell just shy of the Super Bowl in 2013. They might not find themselves nearly as close next season if they can't find a more consistent pass-rushing attack, especially if they don't get the 10 sacks from John Abraham that they got in 2012.

No other player on the team had more than four sacks last season.

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Atlanta had just 29 sacks as a team last year, and more than 33% of those came from the 34-year-old Abraham. Kroy Biermann was second on the team in sacks, with just four. While some speculate that Atlanta might instead want to draft a tight end like Zach Ertz of Stanford or Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame, there's a notable argument to be made that they will need a pass-rushing specialist at defensive end if they are unable to land one in free agency. Rob Rang of CBS Sports projected a DE to Atlanta in his latest mock draft. Alex Okafor of Texas:

While the Falcons are smarting from a disappointing home loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, the genius and aggression they showed in trading up for Julio Jones has been proven. The team may need to make a similarly bold move on the defensive side of the ball to add a pass rusher. Okafor showed a better burst off the snap during Senior Bowl practices than scouts expected and he uses his hands well, making him among the more pro-ready pass rushers of the 2013 draft class.

Okafor, 6'5" and 261 lbs, is an intriguing big man that could really boost his stock at the NFL Combine in Indy and make waves in a draft class that is deep in OLB/DE pass-rushing specialists as well as interior defensive lineman. From Barkevious Mingo and trickling on down, Atlanta might be in a position to draft a pretty good player to be the heir apparent to Abraham.

Or maybe they trade up. We've seen them do it before in recent years, with outstanding results.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.