The Falcons are actually getting close to drafting some players, which is a welcome oasis in an offseason that has been notable for two starting guard signings, the complete teardown of the coordinators, and long stretches of silence. The question, as you’d expect, concerns who exactly those picks will be.
We don’t know that just yet, but Dan Quinn was kind enough to recently confirm that the team is going to be looking hard at defense, as essentially all their offseason moves suggested they would.
Defensive tackle is a legitimate need, though the Falcons really only need a capable rotational player unless they want to swing for the fences. Defensive end is a legitimate need this year even if Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, and Steven Means play well, and it’s a potentially massive need in 2020 if Beasley and Means don’t return. And the defensive backfield needs cornerback and safety depth, as Quinn notes, but that would preferably come in the form of long-term reserves who could start in a pinch, given the injury picture there a year ago and a lack of long-term options at cornerback beyond Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, and Damontae Kazee. None of these identified needs are particularly surprising, but it would be surprising if the team doesn’t use three or four of their first six selections to address them.
Notably absent from this list? Right tackle, the position that Arthur Blank and others around the Falcons and analyzing the Falcons have identified as a major long-term position of need. I still think right tackle is in play for the Falcons with pick #14, but my genuine hope is that they’re willing to hit the defense early and heavy, even if it means a year or two of Ty Sambrailo starting at the position.
Who might they get? The Falcons have been linked to prospects from all three position groups mentioned above that are expected to go in the first round (like Brian Burns, Ed Oliver, and Deandre Baker) and toolsy mid-to-late rounders who fit their draft profiles (like rangy Eastern Michigan pass rusher Maxx Crosby or physical, tall Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson). The Falcons have been able to nail some of those mid-to-late round defensive picks in recent years, from Grady Jarrett to De’Vondre Campbell to Foye Oluokun, and chances are they’ll need to do so again to improve this roster.