With the draft coming up in about four months, It’s time to take an early look at who I think the Falcons have on their radar. Here are a few positions I think we need to address, in order of importance:
1.) Defensive End- Pass rush is clearly the biggest weakness on this team.
2.) Tight End- If Tony Gonzalez retires like he says he will, this leaves a gaping hole in the offense.
3.) Running Back- Turner is past his prime, Falcons need someone who is multi-dimensional.
4.) Nose Tackle- Aside From Babineaux, our interior D-line struggles against the run.
5.) Cornerback- Atlanta can never have too many DB’s, especially considering injuries at the position.
Now let’s take a look at some prospects that match these needs.
Defensive End: The DE’s in this year’s draft are stacked. Even picking late in the first round the Falcons will be extremely content with who will still be on the board. Guys like Sam Montgomery from LSU, Alex Okafor from Texas, or Oregon’s Dion Jordan are all prototypical 4-3 hand-in-the-ground DE’s who could step in on day one and revamp the Falcons’ mediocre pass rush.
Tight End: Two guys really stand out to me when it comes to the tight end class this year. Zach Ertz from Stanford, and my personal favorite, Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame head the class. Being a die-hard Notre Dame fan, I’ve watched nearly every one of Eifert’s plays. He is a big tall physical TE who snatches the ball out of the air with ease. Ertz is similar to Eifert, I just feel his ball skills are not as elite as Eifert’s. I’d be happy with either guy.
Running Back: It’s no surprise that the Falcon’s running game has taken a step back compared to past years. I feel as though the Falcons are headed in a new direction as far as a running game. With that being said, I think they need to take a look at some backs that are multi-dimensional. Given the success of the screen game in Koetter’s offense, it only makes sense to go after a guy like Andre Ellington from Clemson, or perhaps Giovani Bernard from UNC. These guys can make explosive play out of the backfield.
Nose Tackle: The Falcons struggled against the run this year and failed to generate much of a pass-rush. I think they could address these glaring weaknesses in the first round. A couple guys who stand out to me are Kawann Short from Purdue, who sits at 325 LBS, adding bulk to the front four. Another intriguing prospect is Shariff Floyd from Florida, who is quick and has potential to blossom into an adequate interior pass-rusher.
Cornerback: I like the defensive backfield Atlanta has in place right now, but it never hurts to add some depth. Asante is climbing the age ladder, and Grimes has been injured often as of late. It can never hurt to add some depth to this position. Jonathan Banks impresses me the most out of all prospects, unfortunally it looks like he won’t be around in the latter part of the first round. He’s a big physical corner with elite man-to-man skills. He is also great in run support. If he is not available, I look for the Falcons to address this need in the late rounds with guys like Greg Reid or Tyrann Mathieu; both guys offer added value in the return game, another need for ATL.