With three NFC divisions done in our team needs series, it’s time to head to the NFC South and the defending division champion Falcons.
After two playoff appearances in three seasons, the new regime in Atlanta needs to upgrade a talent base that was greater than the sum of its parts during a 13-3 regular season.
DE: The Falcons need a pass rusher to help their rotation now, and especially in 2012. John Abraham, Kroy Biermann, and Jamaal Anderson are all free agents after 2011. Biermann is a rock solid player, but not at Abraham’s level as a pass rusher. A game changer here would make this front line scary.
WR: You could just call this need “playmaker.” With Tony Gonzalez possibly entering his last year, the pick could also be at tight end. Matt Ryan needs more speed outside; Michael Jenkins, Harry Douglas, and even Gonzalez don’t win enough one-on-one matchups.
T: The offensive line need isn’t quite as desperate as you think here. Yes, Tyson Clabo seems likely to leave. Guards Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are free agents and perhaps only one will return. But this is a system-based team and G.M. Thomas Dimitroff planned for this day. He drafted tackle Garrett Reynolds, guard Mike Johnson, and center/guard Joe Hawley in the middle rounds over the last two years.
Getting a right tackle to compete with Reynolds seems like the best bet.
OLB: The Falcons want to bring Mike Peterson back as a run-stopper, but he’s year-to-year. The team’s super sub Stephen Nicholas is also a free agent. Mike Smith would love to add a quality weak-side linebacker that can grow up with Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton together.
Overview: The Falcons have a decent amount of roster holes considering they were the NFC’s top seed last year. They could draft a third-down back with Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood set for free agency. They need depth in the secondary.
Based on Dimitroff’s track record, the Falcons will have no trouble finding a handful of solid contributors. A true difference-maker or two could put this team over the top.