It’s only Week 7, but the Falcons are sitting at 1-5 and have been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. You know what that means, folks: it’s time for some way-too-early draft takes. To kick off my draft coverage this year, I’m going to take a quick look at the top positions of need for Atlanta heading into the 2020 offseason. Keep in mind these priorities could shift a bit depending on the team’s moves in free agency, and which of their own players they elect to cut or re-sign. A new coach could also adjust things based on their schematic preferences.
Here are the top-4 positions of need for the Falcons at this point in the season.
Without a doubt, the highest priority for this team heading into the 2020 draft is to get an impact pass rusher. I feel like we’ve been saying this every year for 20 years, but this year is no exception. The Falcons have managed only 5 sacks through 6 games in 2019, and Vic Beasley is headed out of town next season. There’s still a chance Takk McKinley could turn into something, especially when paired with someone actually good opposite him.
There are a ton of names to look at early in the draft. With the Falcons seemingly destined for a top-5 pick, even Ohio State’s Chase Young isn’t out of the question. Other names to watch are Iowa’s AJ Epenesa, Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara, and Syracuse’s Alton Robinson.
Despite pouring a tremendous amount of resources into the offensive line this offseason, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Obviously rookie RG Chris Lindstrom’s injury threw a wrench into things, but the Falcons can certainly stand to upgrade at LG over the inconsistent play of James Carpenter. Atlanta would also be wise to consider a C/G prospect who can possibly be groomed to take over for Alex Mack in a few years.
Some early names to keep an eye on: Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, and Mississippi State’s Darryl Williams.
With De’Vondre Campbell’s coverage ability falling off a cliff and the team’s reluctance to give playing time to any of their young LBs, it appears we might be looking at a situation where spending another pick on the position is necessary. I personally feel that the duo of Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun is good enough, but adding a Day 2 or early Day 3 pick to the mix for competition would be smart to continue to build depth.
Here are some players to monitor as the season goes on: Georgia’s Monty Rice, Oregon’s Troy Dye, and Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray.
Depending on what the Falcons do with Ricardo Allen and Damontae Kazee, this pick could shift a little bit. One thing is certain: the Falcons need some reinforcements in the secondary. If Kazee shifts back to FS in 2020, CB will need a high pick to replace him. The new coaching may also want to bring in competition for Isaiah Oliver. Adding a SS with legit starting upside would be smart as well with Keanu Neal’s injury history, although this could possibly be addressed early on Day 3.
At CB, here are some names to watch: Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, and Virginia’s Bryce Hall. At safety: Texas’ Brandon Jones, Virginia Tech’s Reggie Floyd, and Maryland’s Antoine Brooks Jr.
What are some of the positions that you think the Falcons should prioritize in the upcoming 2020 draft? Any players in particular who you’ve got your eyes on?