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Team needs: Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Falcons have already used this year’s first-round draft pick and fourth-round draft pick, trading them to Cleveland to move up and select Julio Jones last year. So both this year’s draft and last year’s draft will be judged largely on whether Jones becomes an All-Pro receiver for the Falcons. But with the picks the Falcons have left, they’ll attempt to add depth at a few key positions.

Offensive tackle: Protecting Matt Ryan is a must, and if the Falcons can use their second-round pick on a left tackle who’s an upgrade over Sam Baker, they’d gladly do it. The problem is that’s a pretty big “if”: Left tackles who are capable of being solid starters as rookies are usually gone by No. 55, which is the Falcons’ first pick. It’s more likely that the Falcons will draft a player they think has the potential to eventually become a starting left tackle than that they’ll get a starter right away. Mitchell Schwartz, who started all 51 games in his four-year college career at Cal would be an option in the second round if the Falcons are hoping to have someone who might start from Day One. Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State is a second-round option if the Falcons are looking to develop a prospect who could eventually become a starter.

Defensive line: Pass-rushing defensive ends are always useful, and they’re particularly useful in Atlanta, where last year’s team leader in sacks, John Abraham, is about to turn 34 and starting to slow down. But the Falcons would also love to get a big defensive tackle, so just about any good defensive lineman who’s still on the board could intrigue them in the second or third round.

Tight end: Tony Gonzalez is still going strong, but at age 36 he won’t be around forever. If the Falcons see a tight end they like available in the middle rounds, they’ll snap him up. They’re reportedly interested in Louisiana-Lafayette’s LaDarius Green and Cincinnati’s Adrien Robinson, both of whom could spend a year or two as apprentices to Gonzalez and eventually serve as his replacement in the starting lineup.

Kick returner: Special teams were already an iffy spot for the Falcons, and then they lost their punt and kickoff return man, Eric Weems, to the Bears in free agency. A player who can compete for Weems’ old return job would be a nice addition on the second or third day of the draft.

Heading into last year’s draft, Atlanta thought it was one big-play threat away from the Super Bowl, and the Falcons moved aggressively to acquire that big-play threat in Jones. Unfortunately, he turned out not to be enough. This year they’ll try to add more firepower through the draft, with less ammunition.

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17 Responses to “Team needs: Atlanta Falcons”
  1. insidej0b says: Apr 24, 2012 4:42 PM

    They need a hell of a lot more than that. 2 points in the playoffs!

  2. babyhorsemorgan says: Apr 24, 2012 4:44 PM

    Mike Smith is always careful to protect his eyes from the radioactive red glow of the skin on his face.

  3. gtorlone says: Apr 24, 2012 4:52 PM

    What they need to do is learn how to win a playoff game.

  4. bbk1000 says: Apr 24, 2012 5:01 PM

    #1 need…a new coach….go from there…

  5. nineroutsider says: Apr 24, 2012 5:09 PM

    I would say they need to invest in their own communications system for visiting the Super Dome…they have to go every year; should be on the list for any NFC South team.

  6. beeronthefridge says: Apr 24, 2012 5:11 PM

    Mike Smith looks like Rush Limberger!

  7. bermudamartin says: Apr 24, 2012 5:37 PM

    Just let Julio fly. Everything else will work itself out.

  8. tharoostah says: Apr 24, 2012 6:13 PM

    I hate to say it but they need a new QB. He has proved completely unable to preform in the playoffs. Sure he has good regular season stats (at home only). But watching the games I would guess that he racks up more yards throwing check downs and underneath routes even when his team is getting blown out, he needs to grow a pair. Everyone gets on the QB’s that put up bad numbers with horrible casts around them. Well this guy puts up mediocre numbers with greatness around him. One of the best WR cores in the league and an RB who finishes with over 1300 yds two years in a row.

    He is efficient and doesn’t make mistakes. But he doesn’t take enough risks either. Sometime you have to let your guy make a play. Give him a chance. He might not look open but throw it anyway. Just ask Matt Stafford, the best QB named Matt in the NFL.

  9. luffofthegame says: Apr 24, 2012 6:37 PM

    Julio Jones returned kickoffs & punts in highschool & has the speed to do it in the NFL. I’d say aside from protecting Ryan, they need to focus on the pass-rush. There will be better value with their first pick to address that need than there will be on a Olineman. What good is 3 serviceable corners if you can’t get to the QB?

  10. wicky888 says: Apr 24, 2012 7:23 PM

    Hopefully the offense will look better with a new OC. Unfortunately, we got the OC from Jax

  11. 4thqtrsaint says: Apr 24, 2012 7:41 PM

    How about Middle Linebacker? Who replaces Lofton?

  12. vtopa says: Apr 24, 2012 9:11 PM

    I thought that the Falcon’s needs were met when the Saints got caught in Gooodell’s bounty-buzzsaw.

  13. cootschaos says: Apr 24, 2012 9:24 PM

    They are some dumb people on this board..

    2pts in a playoff game.. Yes I get it, it was a terrible performance, but coming to the Falcons’ boards and having nothing better to type other than “2pts in a playoff game” got old about 3 months ago… Can you come up with an original thought?

    Get a new QB? Are you high?.. Yes Matt Ryan hasn’t won a playoff game, but have you thought about this? Every team that has beat Matt Ryan in the NFL Playoffs, also beat every other QB they face in the playoffs that year as well (AZ 2009, GB 2010, NYG 2011).

    I can make the argument that Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli Manning where all playing the best football of their careers when they faced the Falcons in the playoffs.

  14. jacobslatter says: Apr 24, 2012 9:35 PM

    Replacing Lofton is a renewed Lofa Tatupu and 3rd round pick in 2011 Akeem Dent.

    Tony Gonzalez is playing his final season for a cool $7M so one of those TE’s who drop to #55 could be the guy, Michael Palmer is a nice young prospect but only as a depth player. Also late in the draft a pass catching RB prospect to team with Jacquizz Rodgers to fit the new screen game being installed by Dirk Koetter. Michael Turner will be given less work next season, likely his last for Atlanta. Long live the bubble screen.

  15. seenoland54 says: Apr 24, 2012 10:04 PM

    “Who replaces Lofton?” Anyone that can even moderately defend a pass

  16. 4thqtrsaint says: Apr 25, 2012 1:08 AM

    If the Falcons are planning on using LBs to just defend passes, they are already in trouble. He’s a top 10 LB in this league & top 5 run stuffer, putting up career numbers last year. He’s in his prime.

    But if you think the Falcons are going to draft a lower round rookie, hoping to replace his production, you’re just trying to make yourself feel better. No FAs will replace him, and all the Falcon’s eggs are in a 1 receiver basket, so not blue chip LBs to be drafted.

    Spags wanted him for his playmaking ability. Obviously the Falcons have better plans. Maybe they’ll trade the rest of their picks this year for a longsnapper.

  17. bbk1000 says: Apr 25, 2012 5:37 AM

    All the thumbs down when busting on Mike Smith??????

    You folks don’t understand football

    Did you watch the Giants victory over Atlanta in the playoffs last year? I attended the game, this guy got outcoached.

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