There may be a rotational pass rusher on the way, and I’m still hopeful the Falcons will elect to sign a fullback rather than use a draft pick on one, but we’re probably near the end of the team adding meaningful players to the roster via free agency. If there are any other interesting names to be added beyond those two positions, they’ll come as a mild surprise, or they’ll come after the draft.
And so the draft looms large for Atlanta. It seems like a mortal lock that the team will draft a defensive tackle with their first pick, shoring up the spot next to Grady Jarrett with a young, high-upside player. That could be Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, Washington’s Vita Vea, Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, or Florida’s Taven Bryan, but it seems likely the Falcons will either go up and get their guy or hope one falls to 26.
After that, the Falcons don’t have any slam dunk starters to pick up this year. If they are bullish on Marvin Hall and Reggie Davis competing for Taylor Gabriel’s job and the returner gigs, then they don’t need to invest a draft pick to solve that. If they’re satisfied with their suddenly deep (if not amazing) cornerback depth chart, then they’ll likely shy away from that. That means the Falcons can afford to take rotational pass rushers, high-upside backups at linebacker, tight end, running back, and more, and re-build their depth that way. They’ve put themselves in a pretty favorable spot, assuming they execute well on these picks.
The major worry is still defensive line depth and that other starting defensive tackle spot, and it’ll be a concern until late April at this rate. It’s not an easy thing to replace quality players like Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn, and I’ll be a little nervous until I see those replacements officially join the team. But when you look at this roster as a whole, it’s clear the Falcons feel like they’re close to done, and that they trust their draft class to provide what they’re still missing.
The question is, do you?