We talk a lot about the moves the Falcons need to make to get back to form in 2014. The offensive line desperately needs to be upgraded, and the Falcons can't afford to ignore the lack of anything resembling a pass rush that has plagued them the last few seasons. Those needs are glaring and must be addressed this offseason.
Beyond that, though, the Falcons do have some other positions of weakness. Their run game ranked dead last in the league last season, the tight end position is somewhat of a question mark after the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. The linebacker position is awfully thin after cutting veteran Stephen Nicholas, and Thomas DeCoud's poor play at free safety was rough enough to warrant Mike Nolan mentioning him by name.
Getting the easy answers out of the way first, we can go ahead and cross quarterback off the list. Matt Ryan is the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, the end. The Falcons might look for a backup via the draft, but with Dominique Davis and Sean Renfree both under contract they really don't need to do anything to address the position. Atlanta is also pretty set at wide receiver, with Julio Jones returning from injury and Roddy White expected to sign an extension this offseason.
Cornerback isn't much of a question mark, either, with Desmond Trufant coming off an extraordinarily impressive rookie season and Robert Alford looking promising as well. The Falcons will need to make a decision about free agent nickel back Robert McClain, but McClain likely won't be terribly expensive to re-sign if that's what they choose to do.
Upgrading the offensive line is not negotiable, and addressing the defensive line is a must as well. All of the potential starting defensive tackles are free agents and the pass rush has been a liability for the last few seasons. It's pretty important to at least establish some depth at linebacker, also.
Of all of the units that performed poorly last season, the one that is probably the least urgent is running back. For one thing, poor blocking did contribute to the poor production from the Falcons' ground game, and if the upgraded offensive line can be more effective run blockers it could have a very positive impact on the game. Mike Smith alluded to the fact that the team still has confidence in Steven Jackson to get the job done behind a better line, and Atlanta also has the versatility of Jacquizz Rodgers and presumably the untapped potential of Antone Smith, who averaged 29 yards per carry last season on very few carries.
Which position of need do you think the Falcons can afford to overlook this offseason?