After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Atlanta Falcons.
What they needed: Defensive end, cornerback, linebacker, offensive tackle, guard.
Who they got:
Round 1: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Round 2: Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana
Round 4: Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson
Round 4: Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
Round 5: Stansly Maponga, DE, Texas Christian
Round 7: Kemal Ishmael, DB, Central Florida
Round 7: Zeke Motta, SS, Notre Dame
Round 7: Sean Renfree, QB, Duke
Where they hit: They knew they needed to make a move to get a starting-caliber player at either cornerback or defensive end, and Trufant was the choice. Getting a physical cover player 22nd overall was good business, and helps in part to cover the loss of Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson. Alford has the speed to play at a high level, but it’s unclear how such a young secondary is going to hold up in a division that will test them.
Where they missed: Osi Umenyiora better be good, because he doesn’t have terribly much in the way of help. With two big needs, the Falcons elected to double up at corner and hope for the best with the current cast of pass-rushers. Umenyiora is talented and motivated to prove the Giants were under-utilizing him, and he better be right. They’re also thin on the offensive line, and will hold their breath they stay healthy there.
Impact rookies: The Falcons roster is such that there weren’t too many spots available for drafted rookies, so beyond Trufant, expecting much out of any of them is unfair. Goodman’s an intriguing prospect, but not the kind of sack guy they needed. Toilolo is a big blocker, who could get work soon. Renfree keeps getting described as a guy who will help a team without taking a snap, and frankly, the Falcons hope that’s the case.
Long-term prospects: Atlanta is built for the right now. And while the Trufant move wasn’t as dramatic as trading for Julio Jones, it was still a short-term fix. They haven’t done much this offseason, but the only position they’re obviously better is at running back (Steven Jackson). They still lack playmakers in the front seven of their defense, and there’s not an understudy for Tony Gonzaalez. Is that a quibble, considering they have an offense full of Pro Bowl-caliber personnel? Perhaps. But the Falcons have gotten to the point where they’re being judged on postseason success only, and it’s hard to say they’re better able to achieve that after the weekend.