The Falcons exited the first round with a potential franchise tackle. When the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the team will be looking to address at least one other glaring need.
The two that stand out are pass rusher and free safety. The team is currently fielding Dwight Lowery, who is decent but injured often, alongside 2013 seventh-rounders Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael. They'll have to either walk out of this draft with a promising rookie safety, convert a player currently on the board or dive into the bargain bin again to find an upgrade. All of this presumes that Motta and/or Ishmael don't step up in a major way, but I'm of the mind that the Falcons can't afford to go into training camp with the assumption that one will.
Pass rusher is a bit a different story. The Falcons could add a player who slots in almost anywhere on the front seven so long as he can get after the quarterback, but it's clear they don't quite have enough pieces to field an above average pass rush. If everything breaks right, Jonathan Massaquoi delivers and guys like Joplo Bartu step up, it's possible the unit will be in for noticeable improvement. They still need another player, and I have to think it'll be the team's top priority.
All rankings are from Dan Kadar's best players available list over at Mocking The Draft. I did this specifically to avoid cries of bias, as I do prefer Demarcus Lawrence over Kony Ealy.
Pass Rusher (OLB, DE, DT)
- Kony Ealy
- Ra'Shede Hageman
- Stephon Tuitt
- Demarcus Lawrence
- Kyle Van Noy
- Jeremiah Attaochu
- Scott Crichton
There's an enormous drop-off in Kadar's rankings after Crichton. The Falcons would be wise to ensure they get one of these players, and I think Hageman and Tuitt are less likely.
Joyner, Bailey and Brooks are probably the only three with shots to go in the second round. The rest are third rounders, if that, so the Falcons will need to decide whether they want to dip back up or attempt to address the position in the third or later.
- Shayne Skov
- Chris Borland
- Jordan Tripp (okay, that one's mine)
- Yawin Smallwood
- Avery Williamson
- Jordan Zumwalt
- Max Bullough
I'm not a Skov fan, as many of you know. There's no one here that demands to be taken in the second and even the third might be iffy. If the Falcons can address the position with Smallwood or Zumwalt in the fourth, I'd support that.