With the NFL Draft in the books, our focus turns to how the Atlanta Falcons will overcome their weaknesses and return to relevance in 2014. In that spirit, mailbag time!
Remember that these mailbags run every Thursday, so you can Tweet me directly @TheFalcoholic, email me a question or post in the mailbag open thread that I promise will post next Tuesday or Wednesday. Mea culpa.
Without further ado, our questions.
@TheFalcoholic you think hageman can be a week 1 starter?— Anthony Romero (@ImAnthonyRomero) May 14, 2014
This answer depends entirely on what you would consider a starter to be. If you mean "on the field for the first snap of the game," then I'm not sure Hageman will be an immediate starter. If you're talking about him getting the bulk of the snaps at defensive end in the Falcons' rebuilt 3-4 front, then I can absolutely see that happening. The Falcons didn't draft Hageman in the second round to bring him along slowly.
Hageman will get on the field because of his sheer talent, early run-stopping ability and growing pass rushing chops. He may play a bit less than Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson initially, but I think he'll steal snaps from Babs quickly.
@TheFalcoholic Will the Falcons' opting for a pass rush by committee approach come back to bite them in the butt?— Kendall Jackson (@projectjax) May 14, 2014
That's entirely possible. For once, Mike Nolan's preference for ten guys with four sacks might actually be a possibility, given the sheer number of options in the retooled front seven. We're making some real assumptions here, though.
If Osi Umenyiora declines further, if Jonathan Massaquoi doesn't take the step forward we expect from him, none of the rookies deliver and Babineaux/Hageman/Peters can't generate anything up front, the Falcons will find themselves with a severely limited pass rush. I don't expect all of those things to occur, of course, but if one or two players really disappoint the Falcons will still find themselves in a less-than-enviable position.
I'm going to predict they're around 20th in sacks and pressures, which would be less than awful but a little disappointing.
@TheFalcoholic I've got a mailbag question! Who's our starting free safety gonna be, Lowry or Southward?— Ryan Brown (@Ryan_C_Brown) May 14, 2014
This is likely to be one of the camp battles most worth watching. Lowery, when healthy, is a solid veteran safety who has starting experience. He's a sound tackler with a knack for being around the football, even if he's not someone who forces a ton of turnovers. Lowery's the rough equivalent of Erik Coleman in 2008—a decent starting stopgap.
I'd put Lowery down as the early favorite, because I'm not sure the team's going to be totally comfortable with Southward seizing the starting gig out of the gate. I can't rule out the younger, more athletic safety forcing his way into the lineup, however.
@TheFalcoholic what will the falcons do when Roddy retires because they didn't address the te position when tony retired— Keith Howard (@keithhoward1968) May 14, 2014
The Falcons do seem hellbent on limiting their wide receiver additions to undrafted free agents, don't they?
There's little question the Falcons will have to get around to picking up a young receiver with upside from the draft in the next couple of seasons. Harry Douglas is 30, Roddy White is going to be 33 shortly and Drew Davis, Darius Johnson and the various UDFAs on this roster right now are useful complementary pieces at best.
Fortunately, barring injury, Roddy should be a Falcon for a few more seasons. There's no question the Falcons will need to address the position directly when he does, because beyond Julio Jones there's currently no one on the roster that profiles as a starting-caliber receiver over the long haul.
@TheFalcoholic hey Dave do u think the falcons r gud— Alex Welch (@alexmwelch) May 14, 2014