Coming off a historic season, led by the league MVP, Matt Ryan, the Falcons are able to sit back and breathe a little bit this off-season. However, if they want to get back to the Super Bowl and redeem their monumental collapse, they must make some key improvements in the Draft.
2017 NFL Draft: Who the Atlanta Falcons Should Target
Needs: OL, DE, LB, FS
Head Coach Dan Quinn and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff are all about finding players who can fill immediate holes. And as last year’s draft showed us, they are willing to take “risks” and draft a guy “early” if they believe he can make an immediate impact.
Last year the Falcons looked to fill some of the many holes, the defense seemed to possess, in the Draft by taking Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. Not to mention, the UDFA acquisition of Brian Poole. These four guys added some much needed athleticism to the Falcons defense.
Quinn and company aren’t just going to be drafting any player. They want a hybrid player, meaning they have the ability to play more than one position. They are looking for the athletic freaks, who some teams may be weary on drafting because they don’t know where they are going to play them on the field. However, the Falcons seem to have no issues with developing athletes into playing multiple positions.
Last year, just to name a few, they changed Vic Beasley Jr., Brooks Reed, C.J. Goodwin and Ra’Shede Hageman’s positions and they all turned out quit well. In fact, Beasley led the league in sacks, a category in which the Falcons lacked in severely a season before.
Defensive draft options
The first need that comes to mind is finding Beasley a supporting cast in the pass rush, but that can wait. With the addition of Dontari Poe, a healthy Derrick Shelby/Adrian Clayborn and the sudden breakout of Grady Jarrett, the Falcons don’t necessarily need to pounce on a pass rusher right away.
Drafting Peppers, Jackson or Cunningham would fill a need at either linebacker or safety. Additionally, these three are perfect scheme fits, precisely because of their ability to play multiple positions.
Upgrading the offensive line
They should look to fill the hole at right guard, now that Chris Chester has retired, or look for a more athletic, ball-hawking defensive back to take over the free safety position.
It’s no secret that the Falcons’ success last season came from the offense and Ryan’s breakout season, so why not look for ways to sure-up that offensive line in order to give Matty Ice more time to create more explosive plays to break the game open.
Last year, the duo combined for 2,482 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns. On the ground they accounted for 1,599 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry, and 11 rushing touchdowns, while his counterpart, Coleman, rushed for 520 yards, averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry, and eight rushing touchdowns.
To sum things up –
Look for the Falcons to take one of these guys, if they are available, with the 31st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft:
- Dan Feeney OL
- Forrest Lamp OL
- Jabrill Peppers S/LB
- Adoree’ Jackson DB
- Zach Cunningham LB