The NFL is going to punish the Falcons, maybe next week, with a punishment that will reportedly be severe. The NFL sucks, but that's neither here nor there. Sanctions are coming, and we've got to brace for it and then complain bitterly about it, because those are the avenues available to us.
Circumstances have changed in the front office, obviously, and that has an impact on how we'll view the loss of a second day pick, if it comes to that. Thomas Dimitroff will no longer be solely (or even mostly) responsible for who this football team drafts, so his history with these picks is not as relevant as it would have been a year ago. Still, I thought it might be useful to look back at second-and-third round selections in the Dimitroff era.
2014: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT
2013: Robert Alford, CB
2012: Peter Konz, C
2009: William Moore, S
2008: Curtis Lofton, LB
2014: Dezmen Southward, S
2012: Lamar Holmes, OT
2011: Akeem Dent, LB
2010: Corey Peters, DT and Mike Johnson, G
2009: Chris Owens, CB
2008: Chevis Jackson, CB and Harry Douglas, WR
As we can see, the Falcons' track record of unearthing at least useful players in the second round is fairly strong. Their track record in the third is fairly brutal, on the other hand, with only Corey Peters and Harry Douglas being useful thus far, and a chance that Southward will deliver on his promise down the line. Dimitroff's changing role might change this, but given that track record and the obvious (a 2nd is more valuable than a 3rd), I'm hopeful the NFL will either take away a 3rd this year or a 3rd in 2016, if they're focused on robbing the Falcons of a second-day pick. It's far from an ideal scenario, but the second round pick hurts more for any number of reasons.
The true cost here is opportunity. This is a reasonably deep draft class, the Falcons need to acquire young talent at multiple positions and taking away a second day pick would mean one position either goes unaddressed or is filled with a player that likely has less upside. If they feel pressured to trade out of the #8 slot to recover picks—something that came up in Thomas Dimitroff's 680 The Fan interview this morning, transcribed by D. Orlando Ledbetter—then they could be missing out on a special player with the eighth pick. This is all hypothetical, but each and every move the Falcons may make to try to recoup some of that lost value could have a real impact on their draft class.
There's still reason to hope the Falcons will get nailed with a major fine—a big deal for the franchise, but not so much for the fanbase—and a lesser pick. The NFL hasn't released anything specific yet, and all we have to go on are some reports from guys like Adam Schefter and Mike Florio, who are tight with the a league that wants to look like it's coming down hard on bad behavior and will try to set up any punishment it decides on as a harsh one. But I do think there's a decent chance the Falcons lose a second day selection, and with the team's draft needs, that's an endgame to fear.