Earlier this week, the Falcons went ahead and brought on two defensive tackles and a cornerback, adding some low-cost veteran options to compete over the summer. None of these moves moved the needle or really grabbed all that much attention, which is understandable for April signings when the draft is about a week away, but we’ll give them a little more attention right now.
Here’s the vital question: Do any of these signings change the Falcons’ draft plans?
The answer, as you’d suspect, is basically no. Garrison Smith has the best chance of cracking this roster, as the 26-year-old former Georgia product has logged 11 games with the Seahawks over the last two seasons and provides affordable, decent run defense for a handful of snaps per game. If the team elects not to re-sign a player like Ahtyba Rubin—or if Smith proves to have some hidden upside we don’t know about—it’s reasonable to think he could be the guy taking Rubin’s 8-10 snaps per game in 2018.
Fellow defensive tackle Justin Zimmer is a 25-year-old Ferris State product without any defensive stats to point to, and stints with a couple of different teams, including the Saints. Like Smith, he’ll provide veteran competition at a thin defensive tackle position this summer, but it’s unlikely he even sniffs a roster spot.
Graham is somewhat interesting. He doesn’t have a regular season defensive snap to his name, but he’s a 24-year-old, 6’2” safety with a prolific college tracker record and quality speed. That’s not going to dissuade the Falcons from drafting a safety late, if they want to, but it will give them another player to throw into a mix at a talent-rich but relatively thin position this summer.
The net effect of these signings is just depth options for the Falcons, and it’s very possible that none of the three make the final roster, or even survive the early summer. Atlanta won’t let any of these signings dictate what they do in the draft, which means you should still fully expect to see a defensive tackle or two drafted, and perhaps a safety late.