In the short, but fruitful Dan Quinn era, the Falcons have been near perfect in the draft. In the two years that Quinn has been with the organization, nine of the 13 picks have become either starters or contributors; guys like Vic Beasley, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and Tevin Coleman just to name a few. With the 2017 NFL Draft just under a month away, Falcons fans are eagerly awaiting the newest additions to the team.
The Atlanta Falcons sit with the 31st-overall pick and every sports analyst you know has their own mock draft and opinion for where players will end up. As helpful as these draft predictions are, we all know one pick that no one expects will throw a stick in the spoke of the draft wheel (we all remember the Brady Quinn fiasco). This draft class is chock-full of talent from every position and could easily cause some chaos early and often. Trying to predict exactly what your team will walk away with is extremely difficult. What is a little easier is finding the needs of your team and addressing what actions could be taken to fill those gaps.
The needs for the Falcons in this draft are not glaring, but must to be addressed, the first position being at defensive end. The addition of Dwight Freeney in the 2016 offseason was beneficial for what he brought to the table. He wasn’t acquired to be an every down guy, but he brought a veteran leadership while helping mentor some of the younger guys like Beasley.
Freeney has expressed interest in returning for another season, but his production will not be something to rely on. With that said, going after a defensive end is a direction the Falcons could take.
We all know Myles Garrett won’t make it past the first two or three picks, but with the Falcons sitting at 31, there is still plenty of talent behind him. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Taco Charlton out of the University of Michigan could be just what the defensive line needs. His size and athleticism alone are enough to impress. He brings a solid pass-rush presence and his length adds to his run-stopping ability.
Another end that could aid the Falcons D-line is the 6-foot-1, 237-pound Haason Reddick. The University of Temple walk-on found his stride in the last two seasons. With 10.5 sacks his senior year, he shows getting off the edge is a strength. He is a little undersized, but makes up for it with his explosiveness and could fit well in the Falcons’ defense.
Another position that might add some depth is at defensive back. Robert Alford has already cashed in on a new contract and Desmond Trufant is hopefully nearing his new deal. With Brian Poole and Jalen Collins filling in the other spots, the secondary seems solid, and considering the Falcons reached the Super Bowl with Trufant hurt speaks to that as well.
But, with teams running five-wide more often, adding depth where you can get it never hurts. That’s why if Adoree’ Jackson out of Southern California is available, you take him.
Jackson not only could give you a presence in the slot, but he could line up outside. He could add a unique dynamic as a return specialist, something the Falcons have been lacking. It would be game changing to have a guy who can shorten the field for the offense while also contributing meaningful snaps on defense. With 46 solo tackles, five interceptions and four return touchdowns in his senior season, he proves he can do it all.
Finally, people know that games are won and lost in the trenches. The offensive line for the Falcons was pretty solid last season. The addition of Alex Mack helped anchor the front five and gave Matt Ryan the much-needed protection he had been lacking.
With the recent announcement of right guard Chris Chester retiring, drafting a replacement is something that needs to happen. One guy who might fill that gap is Cam Robinson.
Sitting at 6-foot-6 and 322 pounds, Robinson is a physical monster with size and athleticism. His natural position is tackle, but some scouts are weary of his ability to hold down that spot in the pros. This could mean a transition to guard if the falcons choose to go in that direction. If Robinson doesn’t slide down to the 31st pick, a guy who would be a solid fit is Taylor Moton.
The 6-foot-5, 319-pound offensive tackle out of Western Michigan helped anchor the Broncos to a 13-1 record with the only loss coming to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. He has starting experience at tackle and guard, but right guard is his position and he plays it well. With his attributes, he could easily come in and make a noticeable impact.
We can speculate all we want and try and be clairvoyant. But nothing is in stone until we hear Roger Goodell say those famous words, “With the 31st pick in the 2017 draft, the Atlanta Falcons select…”