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Atlanta Falcons options in the first round of the NFL draft

With free agency effectively complete, we now have an idea on Atlanta's biggest remaining roster holes.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When you boil everything down, Atlanta has only a few options for their first round pick, assuming they stick to Thomas Dimitroff's pseudo-need-based drafting. After spending heavily on WR Mohamed Sanu and C Alex Mack, the team will be nearly forced to take a player to man the front seven or strong safety spot.

The team probably has the least amount of talent at strong safety and middle linebacker, but still needs talent at the hard-to-fill positions of defensive end and defensive tackle. If the team is really sold on a player, they could even pick up a weakside linebacker.

Here is a list of players that are typically mocked around Atlanta's pick.

Defensive End

The problem with selecting at 17 is all the parity outside of the top 10. The Falcons either have a great chance, or almost no chance, at the following pass rushers. Of those below, I'm a big fan of Dodd.

Clemson DE Shaq Lawson

Clemson DE Kevin Dodd

Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence

Oklahoma St. DE Emmanuel Ogbah

Defensive Tackle

I feel like there is a great possibility Atlanta takes a defensive tackle, because Dimitroff has always made this position a priority. I think the team can get away without taking a first round tackle, but Jonathan Babineaux is not getting any younger.

While our very own Charles McDonald is a big fan of Sheldon Rankins, few mocks expect him to be available at 17. Robert Nkemdiche, perhaps the most polarizing player in the draft, is expected to be available. If Dan Quinn wants to coach up an elite prospect, Nkemdiche would fit that bill.

Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson

Alabama DT Jarran Reed

Baylor DT Andrew Billings

Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins

Mississippi State DT Chris Jones

Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche


The Falcons really have only two options at linebacker: the prototypical thumper Reggie Ragland, and the ridiculously athletic Darron Lee. Lee would probably fit best at weakside linebacker, but could get a shot to replace Paul Worrilow. That might be a little nuts, but some believe the team likes the possibility of moving UGA's Floyd to middle linebacker.

Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland

Ohio St. OLB Darron Lee

Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd

Strong Safety

Probably the only clear fit for a first round pick, Killebrew fits the mold of a fast and physical enforcer in the middle of the defense. This may still be too early for Killebrew, but no one else seems to come close. Some have mentioned Florida's Keanu Neal, and he may sneak in, but he's a projected second round pick right now.

Southern Utah SS Miles Killebrew


The team has plenty of options, so they can address defense early and often on draft day. Expect a young defense with some physical potential next season. Be sure to remind me who I missed in the comments.