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Why The Falcons Should Draft A Pass Rusher Over A Cornerback

Throughout the off-season, I plan to post profiles of players the Falcons might draft. A large number of them may well be cornerbacks. That might imply to you that I think we should take the a cornerback first overall. You would be wrong.

There are a million good reasons why the Falcons should take a cornerback, but only one that makes sense to me: If there are no quality pass-rushing defensive ends or linebackers left. That's why I take some issue with Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, who wrote that the Falcons' secondary was the team's biggest need and that the Falcons are a "lock" to take a corner when their first round pick comes up.

To me, people who say that reveal just how little attention they paid to the 2009 Atlanta Falcons. Besides a laundry list of injuries, the team's greatest failure was its lack of a consistent pass rush. Quarterbacks who have all the time in the world to throw can embarrass even Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey in their respective primes, and far too often we watched as someone like Drew Brees brewed himself a cup of tea and finished a New York Times crossword in the pocket. Spending a first round pick on a cornerback would give us a chance to have a true top-flight cornerback on the field, something I've long advocated, but it wouldn't help us solve the more fundamental problem of getting to the cornerback.

"But Dave," you might say, spilling your gin and tonic on your keyboard, "don't we have defensive ends who can get to the quarterback?" The short answer is not really. The longer answer is that John Abraham is getting older, Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury are still developing and everyone else on the roster is almost completely useless at getting to the passer. At the very least, we're in a transition period. At the worst, we don't have any elite pass rushers on the roster because Abraham's tackling the slippery slope we call aging. Either way, having a guy with double digit sack potential—and that extends to linebacker, where we also have approximately no one with pass rushing credentials—would be a huge boost for the defense. I know Abraham himself has hinted that coverage led to him having fewer sacks, but I think the lack of a competent pass-rushing front seven to give him a little support had plenty to do with that, too.

So I guess my preference would be that we address that first and use a mid-round pick on another cornerback who can step in and compete for playing time. It seems to me that addressing our needs up front would make whoever we grab a couple rounds later look a hell of a lot better. Do you agree?