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What the Falcons must accomplish in the 2018 NFL Draft

It’s less about positions and more about sustainably improving the roster.

Houston Texans v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Believe it or not, the 2018 NFL Draft is this week. We’ve waited a long time to see who Atlanta is going to wind up with, and after Saturday, we’ll know at last. When the dust settles and we know that class, we’ll have some initial thoughts on whether the Falcons accomplished everything they needed to accomplish or not.

So what do they need to accomplish?

#1: Get a starting-caliber defensive tackle

This is still my top need for Atlanta, regardless of whether that plays comes in the first round or the fourth. The Falcons currently only have two proven commodities at defensive tackle in Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford, and the last thing they need is to try to mortar the gaps at the position with the likes of Garrison Smith and a bunch of uninspiring mid-June free agent signings.

Getting a high-upside defensive tackle who can play 20 quality snaps a game in the here and now is imperative, and I’m excited to see who the Falcons get. If they whiff at the position, they’ve dropped the ball in a major way.

#2: Add talented depth on both sides of the ball

The Falcons are more or less set with starters at every position but fullback, defensive tackle, and arguably cornerback. They’re not necessarily deep at every position, however, and that’s what this draft allows them to address. If you can get players with starter’s upsides at key positions, even better.

Those positions include cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver, safety, defensive end, running back, and arguably along the offensive line, or basically the entire roster. The most important thing Atlanta can do is keep hitting on their mid-to-late round picks to ensure they have fallback options in case of injury.

#3: Add competition at #3 receiver and nickel cornerback

The Falcons could skate by with Brian Poole as nickel cornerback and Justin Hardy, Marvin Hall and Reggie Davis duking it out at #3 receiver, but it’s not an ideal situation. Poole is a killer tackler and blitzer at cornerback, but it’d be ideal if the Falcons could play him there a little less and try him out at safety as well, allowing him to get plenty of playing time but less matching up against shifty slot receivers.

Similarly, the Falcons have some options at #3 receiver, but unless they’re ready to turn the keys over to Hardy, nobody’s even reasonably proven. Adding a speedy receiver with real upside would be a good move even if they don’t win the job outright this year.

What else do you think the Falcons need to accomplish with this draft?