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Atlanta Falcons Needs: Pre-Draft


Jacob Goldstein-Street
Despite finishing second in the NFC South and improving their record from 2015, the Falcons are still far from a playoff berth. | Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons Team Needs

The Atlanta Falcons have a number of holes to fill, whether it be through the draft or free agency, after a lackluster 8-8 season under new head coach Dan Quinn. Here are the holes that need to be filled to achieve that goal.

 

1: Linebacker

The Falcons linebacking core is something that really hurt their defense last season. Paul Worrilow was mediocre in the middle last season and Justin Durant, who started 12 games last season on the outside, was released by Atlanta in February.

The Atlanta Falcons have been proactive trying to fill their need by re-signing OLB Philip Wheeler in March, but what the team needs is speed. Also, with the league’s worst sack totals, they could definitely add a pass rusher to the mix.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Falcons use their first round pick on a linebacker, as there are a few options worthy of their 17th overall pick. Darron Lee, the agile outside linebacker from Ohio State, comes to mind. As an  All-American his freshman year, he helped  the Buckeyes win the 2014 National Championship. If they want to take a middle linebacker, Reggie Ragland of Alabama would be an interesting choice. He can do just about anything. He has a high football IQ, can step back into coverage, and can shed blocks with ease.

 

2: Wide Receiver

It’s a bit unnatural to talk about the Atlanta Falcons needing a wide receiver, since they had so many successful seasons with Roddy White and Julio Jones. However, with White gone and no one to take his place, the Falcons should look to find a second wide receiver in the draft.

After letting Rishard Matthews and Marvin Jones pass by in free agency, the Atlanta Falcons look almost certain to take one in the draft.

There are a couple of possibilities for their first-round choice if they decide not to take a linebacker. Corey Coleman is definitely the most fascinating of those available. He is known for his explosiveness and great hands that allowed him to come down with a nation-leading 20 touchdown receptions with Baylor last season. Both Josh Doctson of TCU and Will Fuller of Notre Dame should be accessible, as well.


 

3: Offensive Line

Despite weak blocking in the second half of the season, Devonta Freeman was named to the Pro Bowl. Imagine how good his numbers could have been if he had been given even average blocking. Also, what if Matt Ryan could be given just a little more time to find Jacob Tamme or Julio Jones down the field.

The Atlanta Falcons had troubles at both the guard and center position last season. They picked up Alex Mack in March to shore up their issues in the middle of the line, but Mack needs someone effective next to him.

Luckily, there are many options when it comes to the NFL Draft at the end of April. There are multiple guards that they could take with their second round pick (50). Joshua Garnett, a 6-4 guard from Stanford should be available. He would be a great pick, as he has done a tremendous job blocking for both Christian McCaffrey and Kevin Hogan over the past few seasons. Also, Cody Whitehair of Kansas State could be intriguing. He has experience playing both center and guard, which will be great as thirty-year-old Alex Mack’s career winds down in the coming seasons.

 

4: Safety

The Atlanta Falcons’ cornerbacks are some of the best in the league, led by Desmond Trufant who made his first Pro-Bowl this past season. Although, their safeties have left fans wanting more over the past few years.

William Moore, who had a weak season, was released. This leaves a major hole in the Falcons’ secondary that can be filled in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Atlanta will most likely wait until the second or maybe even the third day of the NFL Draft to select a safety. If they decided to trade back, a number of options would come to light. Karl Joseph of West Virginia, Keanu Neal of Florida, and Darian Thompson of Boise State all would be interesting options for their pick.

Jacob is based in Washington State. He is a staff writer for Pro Football Spot. Connect with him on Twitter @GoldsteinStreet


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I think Reggie might be a little too slow. He hits hard and did a lot of great things as a pass-rusher/run-stopper by stepping into running lanes and digging his heels in, but there could be some problems in his first year or more. 

He is currently at a good weight, but it wouldn't hurt to lean out a little to gain some extra speed. 

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8 minutes ago, David Harrison said:

I like Darron Lee to the Falcons if he's there.

Sent from my iPhone using the Pro Football Spot App

I agree. Darren Lee is another guy who can hit like a sledgehammer. Lee possesses a lot of speed and he can go side-to-side no problem. One strike against him, however, is that he's a straight-line guy, meaning he cannot change directions all that well in the pursuit of the ball carrier. However, he's one of the better run-stopping backers. 

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