It’s finally the offseason for the Atlanta Falcons, so all eyes are on the NFL draft. We have been wondering what Atlanta needs to improve during this offseason to get them over the hump. The team is unusually stacked (for a Falcons team), so the needs aren’t as clear.
The Falcoholic staff has looked at the roster, and think the team will probably add a Dontari Poe replacement, an interior lineman, a return specialist, a wide receiver, a developmental quarterback, and a tight end.
What does Mel Kiper say? The Falcons need better than just Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk isn’t a giant, go-to No. 1 wide receiver -- he’s only 5-11 -- but Atlanta doesn’t need that with Julio Jones already on the roster. Kirk would be a versatile offensive threat who could immediately help as both a punt and kick returner. He can play in the slot and burn defensive backs, and he could play outside too. Kirk had an up-and-down 2017 season, but he still finished with 12 total touchdowns, including two on returns. He’s my No. 2-ranked receiver.
The Falcons lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, in part, due to dropping over 11% of their catchable balls. The Falcons had been at the top of the league in dropped passes all year long, and had an uninspiring 1140 receiving/rushing from Sanu and Gabriel. Gabriel went from electric gem in 2016 to almost guaranteed gone after 2017. Sanu has been worth his deal, but still struggles with drops and an anemic 10.5 yards per catch.
Could Christian Kirk be the solution? He was saddled with a rookie quarterback most of the season, but otherwise proved to be an explosive playmaker. He may be on the small side, but is more likely to produce consistently against NFL corners than Gabriel (5-foot-8, 168 pounds). Scouting reports love his route running, build, and ability to produce, comparing him to TY Hilton (nice) and Jarvis Landry (oh).
Kirk sounds interesting as a player that could rotate between playing outside and the slot. Additionally, the Falcons could kill two birds with one stone and put him as a returner. The ability to upgrade two positions at once, and finally get younger at wide receiver, should have Dan Quinn interested. It feels a little early to draft a wide receiver when Atlanta will probably need a starting defensive tackle and guard, but I think one of those should be solved in free agency.
Other interesting positions going off the board around Atlanta’s pick? The Dallas Cowboys snatch up big Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea at 19. Maurice Hurst, a Michigan defensive tackle, goes to the Buffalo Bills at 22. Billy Price, an interior offensive lineman for Ohio goes to the Carolina Panthers at 24. Mark Andrews, an Oklahoma tight end, gets selected at 29 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.