It’s a time-honored tradition to try to guess where the Falcons are going in the first round of the draft. Some years it’s obvious and evident, as it was when the Falcons scooped up Sean Weatherspoon in 2010 or Desmond Trufant in 2013, even if the last one was more based on positional need than anything else.
Other times it’s much less obvious, but with the advantage of many years of draft selections with Thomas Dimtiroff at the helm, we can probably offer up better guesses than we could in, say, 2012.
Let’s start by quickly running through all of this team’s first round picks.
- QB Matt Ryan
- OT Sam Baker
- DT Peria Jerry
- LB Sean Weatherspoon
- WR Julio Jones
- CB Desmond Trufant
- OT Jake Matthews
- DE Vic Beasley
- S Keanu Neal
- DE Takk McKinley
- WR Calvin Ridley
- OG Chris Lindstrom
- OT Kaleb McGary
The Falcons have tended to prioritize the offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver, and the secondary in the draft. The only exceptions to that have been Matt Ryan and Sean Weatherspoon, and one of those picks worked out spectacularly and one of those had a fine career derailed by injuries. The team has been more likely to focus on defensive end than defensive tackle, but otherwise those patterns have largely held true.
We know tackle isn’t on the menu this year with McGary in his second season, and I don’t think this is the class for the Falcons to sink another first rounder into guard. That would leave defensive line and secondary as two logical areas of focus and position groups where Dimitroff and company have tended to invest first round picks.
What’s more likely? It’s probably too early to say, but these Falcons will likely land on the best player on their board at defensive end, defensive tackle, cornerback, or safety. With Desmond Trufant’s contract emerging as a sore spot for a cap-strapped team and Keanu Neal no guarantee to return to form after two straight season-ending injuries—not to mention Dimitroff’s stated plans to draft cornerback or safety early—I think the first round pick may well go to one of those positions. I’d lean corner because Ricardo Allen and Damontae Kazee are quality starters, regardless, but the Falcons may be eyeing the long-term.
That wouldn’t make me incredibly happy, given that I almost always want the team to add a potentially elite edge rusher, but I think we’d better expect it.