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2016 NFL Draft: Top 5 needs for the Atlanta Falcons

Three on defense, two on offense.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

We're hours away from the draft, as you all know, and the Falcons are going to need to absolutely nail this class. We'll hope they do so in part by addressing their top needs, which we'll outline below.

My colleague Allen Strk wrote up his top five needs a couple of weeks ago, and my list isn't much different. You can catch up our reasoning, though.

#1: Linebacker

I don't care how many bodies the Falcons have added at the position, this remains a major need. The Falcons don't have many guys under contract in 2017 in this group, for one thing, and they're lacking athleticism, speed, and coverage ability, for another. Getting a versatile, athletic defender like Leonard Floyd, a true dynamic young WLB like Darron Lee, or a physical thumper like Reggie Ragland at MLB would solve at least one major problem, but double dipping at this position would be a smart move.

#2: Pass Rusher

Not a true positional need, but a huge need. The Falcons did a nice job of adding physicality up front with Derrick Shelby and Courtney Upshaw, but neither one profiles as a massive upgrade as a pass rusher, and there's the still-persistent question of where that pass rush is going to come from beyond Vic Beasley. The Falcons could go for someone like Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, or Sheldon Rankins in the first round to boost the pass rush, or they could look for a developmental option a little later in the draft. They just probably shouldn't stand pat.

#3: Safety

This is also a major need, and the Falcons have a good shot at getting a safety in the second or third round who can step right in. The only reason it's not as big of a need as the first two is that the Falcons do have a decent stopgap in Charles Godfrey and some young options with Kemal Ishmael and Robenson Therezie, but obviously landing a Vonn Bell or Keanu Neal in the second round would provide the Falcons with a potentially massive long-term upgrade.

#4: Guard

The Falcons will probably trot out Andy Levitre and Chris Chester again at their two guard spots, but there's very little in the way of intriguing young talent behind them. Getting a starting option for 2017 and beyond is going to be a big deal unless the Falcons think they're going to survive for 3-5 years with great tackles and a center and middling guards, and I doubt they really think that.

#5: Tight end

You don't have to get one this year, sure, but tight end looms as one of the team's great needs in 2017, and addressing the position now might be wise. It's not a strong class, but there's a handful of good 2nd-3rd round options and a couple of developmental guys who would make sense late, depending on just how urgent you think that need is.

What are your top five needs?