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Falcons draft: How glaring is the need at safety?

The Falcons need to add talent, but are they going to roll into 2015 with Charles Godfrey as the starter?

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The Falcons could conceivably head into the 2015 season with Charles Godfrey as their starting free safety. There are arguments for doing so, but it's tough to argue there are any great ones.

This is not to say that Godfrey is a terrible player, because earlier in his career he was a serviceable starting free safety or better. It's just that coming off a major injury and seeing some time at cornerback, he was bad enough that the Panthers cut him, and he couldn't get on the field for the Falcons after they snapped him up last season. Time to get healthier and a return to a more natural position could do wonders for him, and the team clearly views him as a one-year stopgap option as best, in any case.

But still. It beggars belief that Dan Quinn, a man who saw the profound effects that having a pair of great safeties like Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor can have for a defense, would roll into the 2015 season with Godfrey as his starter. It seems much likelier that the Falcons either will abandon the Dezmen Southward-at-cornerback experiment and give the rangy young safety a starting shot at safety, or that they'll find a way to acquire an upgrade through the draft or free agency. I don't view Kemal Ishmael as a likely starter at free safety, given the coverage responsibilities a that position bears in a Dan Quinn defense, but I've learned it's better not to entirely rule Ishmael out for much of anything.

The draft offers a couple of intriguing prospects. I'm pretty high on the possibility of the Falcons drafting Eric Rowe—as you saw yesterday—who was converted from safety to cornerback in his senior season at Utah. Rowe is a plus athlete, a big hitter and a guy who could be an impactful safety at the NFL level, and while he may not be an immediately great starter, he could likely compete with Godfrey right out of the gate. If not Rowe, there's Anthony Harris, a ballhawk of a safety who picked up a boatload of interceptions last season and has worked out for the Falcons already. If not either of those guys...well, there's always picking through veteran cuts in the summer, or drafting a project and getting him some work.

If Godfrey starts, plays well and handles this bridge year in Quinn's defense, I'll applaud him. But I think the Falcons know they have a legitimate hole at safety, and I don't think they're going to sit around and hope for the best.