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Falcoholinks: All the Falcons news you need for Thursday, Jan. 31

Links: Super Bowl weekend edition.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta is loaded with roving hordes of people not quite sure where they’re going. The highways are jammed far past the point of usual frustration. The Metro Diner has run out of food at 3 am. It’s not The Walking Dead, it’s Super Bowl week, and with all of the horrors of humanity outside, us here at The Falcoholic strongly recommend that you take up refuge indoors. These links will keep your mind busy until it all blows over.

Roster Projections

We may be in the early throes of the offseason, but it’s never too soon for our roster prognostications for next year. The Falcons have glaring needs in the trenches on both sides of the ball, so whether it’s via free agent additions or draft selections, that should be the top priority for Dimitroff and Quinn. Atlanta should have a decent chunk of change when it comes to free agent spending, so there’s a shot they land a marquee name to fill one of those spots.

With new (old) coaching faces in OC Dirk Koetter, TE coach Mike Mularkey, and new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica come some strong ties to potential candidates to assume roles for Atlanta in 2019.

And while we’re broaching the subject of projections, which Falcons crack the Pro Bowl roster next year? Our staff weighed in with their thoughts.

Cougar Scouting

The Falcons could ostensibly go in a number of directions with their first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft — offensive guard, an edge defender, and defensive tackle are all realistic possibilities. Although they selected DT Deadrin Senat in the third round last year, former Houston Cougar Ed Oliver is a blue chip prospect that could transform the Falcons’ defensive line.

For that reason, he’s the focus of Falcoholic draftnik Kevin Knight’s first scouting report of the season. Oliver has the tools and ability to play in multiple spots on Atlanta’s front, and that versatility will make him an asset in the defensive system that Dan Quinn employs.

Mike Smith Has a Beard

Mike Smith has a beard. He looks kind of like an off brand Kenny Rogers or svelte Santa Claus.

Ben Garland Secures an Honor

You’re well aware that Ben Garland is an Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman, but did you know he’s also a current captain in the Colorado Air National Guard? With his commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces during the offseason, Garland exemplifies the importance of service, and he was named the NFL’s Salute to Service Award winner for 2018.

It’s the third time in the past three years that a member of the Atlanta Falcons has brought home the award.

Congratulations, Ben, and thank you for your service, sir!

A Look at Special Teams

Matt Bryant aside, the Falcons’ special teams unit has struggled in recent years, and inevitably led to the dismissal of longtime coordinator Keith Armstrong. 2018 was more of the same — stellar play from the field goal unit but field position was consistently an issue on returns.

So what might special teams look like in the upcoming season? The prime storyline is undoubtedly what the Falcons decide to do with Matt Bryant and Georgio Tavecchio.