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Falcoholinks: All the news you need to know for Monday, Apr. 22

The draft is nearly upon us.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Only one more Falcoholinks until the quasi-Christmas morning that is the draft!

Ra’Shede Hageman returns

The big news came on Friday, when your Atlanta Falcons re-signed Ra’Shede Hageman. The former second round pick had an uneven three seasons in Atlanta before pleading guilty to domestic violence misdemeanors, ending up on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, and getting cut just ahead of the 2017 season. He had been out of the league since, and still has to serve a two game suspension for a DWI back in June.

All that makes him a surprising addition for the Falcons, who have prioritized stacking up bodies along the defensive line. Hageman’s most likely a flier for Atlanta, which knows him well, is familiar with his positional versatility and flashes of unstoppable strength, and is hoping the time away will serve to make him a better player. Hageman has pledged to put everything behind him and we’ll hope he’s able to do so.

The Falcons make trades and land big fish in Eric’s last mock

Eric Robinson has now delivered six versions of his Falcons mock draft this offseason, and his takes on who the team will pick have evolved as we’ve seen them make moves. His latest and final mock gives the Falcons a potentially potent edge rusher in Brian Burns, an extremely promising tackle in Tytus Howard, and utilizes two trades to land the Falcons a promising receiver and interesting late round linebacker. The Falcons still make seven picks and hit virtually every draft need, making this a strong class if it comes to fruition.

Atlanta’s close with Julio Jones?

The Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones contracts are Atlanta’s biggest offseason priority once the NFL Draft is over, and we’ve received very little insight into the state of those negotiations to this point. The most recent update has the Falcons close to re-upping with #11, which we’ve heard once before but not from a plugged-in local writer like Jeff Schultz at The Athletic.

Just how close are we talking? That’s not as important as knowing it’ll get done, certainly before the season but ideally before mandatory minicamp. If the Falcons can lock up Jones and Jarrett for the next few years and give themselves a little more cap space to play with in the short-term, all will be well in Atlanta.

Where do the Falcons still have holes?

Over the weekend, we took a closer look at the state of the Falcons roster and tried to determine which positions were still weaknesses. Atlanta’s done a stellar job of adding capable depth across the roster, getting themselves a swing tackle candidate (John Wetzel), young reserves with upside along the defensive line (Chris Odom, Tyeler Davison), and adding safety depth (Chris Cooper, Afolabi Laguda). That improves their draft flexibility, at the very least.

The holes are still there, though. The Falcons have conspiciously left cornerback alone thus far, increasing the odds that they get a player early in the draft, and have long-term needs at tackle and defensive end that must be addressed. We’re only days from finding out how they intend to do so.