The 2013 NFL Draft is happening today. Today, people.
You've seen our mock drafts, you've pored over the draft order and you've done battle on behalf of your favorite prospects. All that remains is the draft itself, and all we can do this morning is look ahead.
I've put together a list of my predictions for what lies ahead, which are no more or less likely to be accurate than anyone else's. This is based on a combination of real rumors I've heard, my educated hunches based on five years of watching this front office in action and
The Falcons will draft a cornerback in the first round
It feels like a fait accompli at this point, which always makes me skittish. Ultimately, based on everything that's happened thus far and the huge need at the position, the fit makes too much sense.
Xavier Rhodes is my choice, Desmond Trufant is everyone's darling and Dee Milliner has gained steam, but I'm going to throw a dark horse candidate into the ring: D.J. Hayden. He's a fast riser, he appears to be completely healthy after that terrifying injury and he's extremely gifted in coverage. I wouldn't be stunned if the Falcons traded up for any of those four, but keep your eye on Hayden in particular.
If the team elects not to trade up, Jamar Taylor is a realistic possibility at #30. I'd be stunned if they went tight end or defensive end, though I'd definitely be comfortable with the latter.
The Falcons won't make defensive end a major priority
While I would consider defensive end a major need, the Falcons simply aren't likely to agree with me.
With Osi on board, jack of all trades Kroy Biermann around and Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi growing as players, the Falcons have a fairly comfortable rotation. Add in the possibility of re-signing John Abraham and kicking both Corey Peters and Jon Babineaux out to end on occasion and this just doesn't feel like a major priority. Sure, they'll likely draft an end, but whoever they pick up won't be counted on to start or play huge snaps in 2013.
This is one I hope I'm wrong about. I'd love to see the Falcons add a top-flight end who can lock down a starting job for years to come. This just probably won't be the draft they get one in, unless they hit big-time in the third round or so.
The Falcons will add pass rushing talent to the linebacker position
This is where the upgrades will come from, as far as the pass rush goes. The Falcons are looking at players like Sean Porter because they want to bring the heat off the edges when they go for 3-4 looks, and they want the additional uncertainty that true pass-rushing linebackers can create for opposing offenses.
The Falcons will add at least one player who can rush from outside linebacker and maybe kick to end on occasion.
The Falcons will add a running back
Yes, Steven Jackson is signed for three seasons, but he may not be there for all of them. Jacquizz Rodgers is not being looked at as someone who can carry the load on his own. Jason Snelling and Antone Smith are complementary pieces.
The Falcons will be looking for someone who can be at least a valuable reserve going forward, if not a real option for carries in a couple of seasons. Anywhere from the fourth round on, you can expect to see the Falcons bring a back aboard.
The Falcons will make more than one trade
I think the Falcons are trading up for a cornerback in the first round, but I don't think they'll stop there. If you assume only about seven players would make the final roster, if that, they'll likely be shopping picks around to move up, grab more for next year and get players they really want. I expect at least two trades, if not more.
Those are five predictions for me. Share yours with the class!