After yesterday brought the news that Justin Durant and William Moore were gone, it was pretty easy to figure out how the Falcons would be addressing linebacker, their weakest position on defense. They'll likely draft a player to help out, chase a free agent like Bruce Irvin, and hope that Tyler Starr is ready to grow into some kind of role. We don't know the particular players the Falcons will chase, but we know that linebacker has to be a priority.
Things are murkier at safety, where William Moore had locked down the starting job since the 2010 season. He was a vocal, hard-hitting, big play authoring presence in the secondary for years, and while his play had slipped and the injuries piled up, it's not readily evident who is going to replace him. I do anticipate free agency will be involved, as I wrote recently.
Here's my vision for how the Falcons will handle the void at strong safety, assuming of course that Ricardo Allen is in line to start another year at the other safety spot. It does not involve the draft, you'll note.
- The team signs a free agent. I'm not expecting a slam dunk like Eric Berry or even Eric Weddle, but an interesting player with the upside to start for at least one year in Dan Quinn's scheme. George Iloka or Tashaun Gipson would be nice gets, but knowing the Falcons, rummaging for a backup with some upside (like Pittsburgh's Robert Golden) is a strong possibility.
- Letting said free agent duke it out with Kemal Ishmael and Robenson Therezie, who should both stick around. Ishmael is a core special teamer, very useful against the run, and has a knack for coming up with big interceptions, even if he's clearly limited in coverage. Therezie may not be ready for primetime yet, but it's very obvious the coaching staff likes him, and I thought he acquitted himself pretty well in his limited opportunities this year.
- The team then takes a look at its safety group heading into 2017 and considers making either a splash free agent or top draft pick a priority to replace the least effective starter, unless they somehow get truly stellar play from both spots.
There's risk with this approach, of course, in that the Falcons will probably head into 2016 with exactly zero great safeties, barring a step forward from Ricardo Allen, who has at least taught me not to doubt him. But solid, consistent safety play and some upside at the position would be something worth celebrating, especially if the team is able to fix up the front seven, and so I will live with it.
What's your take on the plan?