USA TODAY Sports
The Senior Bowl isn't tomorrow. The practices aren't over. Given that the draft is the next major milestone we have to look forward to, though, it's time to start looking at some of the prospects who could be headed to Atlanta.
The Falcons have several advantages lesser teams do not. They have a quarterback in place. They don't need an impact, #1 or #2 type receiver. They will most likely re-sign Sam Baker, so the elusive left tackle is in the fold. And the secondary, barring some major surprises, is in pretty good shape.
That means the Falcons can focus on the two lines, running back, tight end, linebacker and depth across the board. While that doesn't winnow their needs down to a tiny list, it means they can safely ignore a few positions through the first few rounds.
Let's take a look at four intriguing prospects who are currently practicing in the Senior Bowl.
RB Mike Gillislee
There are several interesting running backs in this class, and Gillislee might be helping his stock too much for the Falcons' liking. He's standing out early amongst the running backs present at the Senior Bowl, however, and has a nice combination of hands, size (210 pounds, roughly), speed and pass-blocking acumen.
I don't know that GIllislee is the most high-ceiling guy in the draft, and there are concerns about his power running at the NFL level. I still think he's a potential featured running back, and that he would be a nice fit in a platoon with Jacquizz Rodgers.
TE Vance McDonald
The best tight end prospects in the nation are not at the Senior Bowl, but McDonald's the best one there. A likely mid-round prospect, McDonald boasts nice size and has all the tools necessary to succeed as a pass-catching tight end in the NFL. The problem is chiefly drops and some questions about how good his blocking technique is.
If the Falcons are going to draft a tight end, they will want to go with someone with enough potential to be a quality starter for a long time. If they don't want to burn a first or second round pick, McDonald might just be the best choice.
DE Margus Hunt
I've had him penciled in as the Falcons' pick for a long time, and while that prediction has approximately a 2% chance of coming true, I still like Hunt a lot.
A true athlete with size at 6'7" and 270 pounds, Hunt was known for blocking kicks and getting his hands on passes at the college level. He has the motor and power to be an effective NFL pass rusher, and he's got a knack for being a disruptive force in the backfield.
He's a player I think would be ready to contribute at the next level quickly, and he could be a very useful member of the defensive end rotation right away. Definitely someone to keep your eye on.
LB Khaseem Greene
The Falcons are perilously thin at linebacker. They only had Robert James and Mike Peterson backing up their starting trio this season, and both those guys could be gone in 2013. You can pencil in Patrick Schiller for a spot, but they need some athleticism and talent there.
Greene fits the bill. A vicious hitter, a playmaker and an impressive athlete for Rutgers, Greene would offer up some nastiness in the linebacking corps as sort of a first man off the bench. He'll need a little work in coverage, but not so much that I'd be scared away from him. The Falcons need defenders who can make big plays, and Greene fits the bill.
Who else are you watching?