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Did the Falcons do what they needed to do on draft day, and what’s next in 2020?

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Our sage roundtable weighs in weightily.

Auburn v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

I’m shocked to say the Falcons did pretty good

The Falcons entered the offseason in dire straights. Two 7-9 seasons. One of the worst cap situations in the NFL. Vic Beasley as a starter. My god. Yet we ended up here and the roster is looking pretty good on paper. How did this happen? The Falcons skipped a bit on value and addressed their biggest needs to hopefully complement this roster at the end of the window of their top offensive players. I’m pretty happy about the draft and think the Falcons can pull in a few veterans to shore up the rest of the roster. — Matt Chambers

They filled their most pressing needs and got immediate contributors

The Falcons addressed needs at all three levels of the defense, and found their longterm answer at center, and possible 2020 starting LG in Matt Hennessy. Hennessy was a value pick in the third round; he and Marlon Davidson made up a very strong second day for the Falcons, in which they bolstered the trenches on both sides.

Many felt that the A.J. Terrell pick was a reach, but all indications point to him having been gone at 19 had Atlanta not pulled the trigger where they did. Six cornerbacks went in Round 1 and the Falcons effectively got ahead of the run to get their guy in what was a shrewd move. I’m not entirely sold on the Jaylinn Hawkins pick in the fourth but at worst he’ll be a good Special Teams contributor.

It’s not a stretch to think that the Falcons came away from this draft with four players who will be starters in 2020. They plugged the holes that needed to be plugged, and made me feel a lot better about this coming season.

With Desmond Trufant’s money coming off the books after June 1, I’d like to see the team shore up the linebacking corps with some more depth, as well as possibly look into signing another veteran pass rusher. — Adnan Ikic

Patient and sensible

Thomas Dimitroff had one of his best drafts ever as Falcons GM. Instead of getting antsy or flashy by moving up and forfeiting draft picks, he stayed put and let the draft come to him. On top of that, he ended up filling several positional needs with talent that was “in the range” for each pick.

I really like the Terrell pick the more I look at it. This was a player that was consistently left on an island at Clemson and I think he has the tools to succeed in the NFL. I’m already in love with Davidson and Matt Hennessy could contribute this year, but definitely is being eyed as the long-term successor to Alex Mack. The day 3 picks were also sensible, even if taking a punter in the seventh is kind of funny. All in all, a very solid draft and one that could pay dividends down the road. - David Walker

Plugging holes, but is the ship seaworthy?

I’ve probably written enough about my initial impressions of this class to be brief here. It was quality, it was largely pretty smart, and with the exception of a couple of picks, I was pretty enthused to see the names they were picking up. I think they’ve done a nice job of patching up the defense with this class, both now and in the future.

What’s next, though? The Falcons aren’t exactly done building the roster, given that their third-best edge rusher is probably Steven Means, their linebacker group is still pretty shallow and unproven even with the addition of rookie Mykal Walker, and injury would hit pretty much any position group on the offense hard at this point. Some of that Desmond Trufant money in June should go to pick up a veteran pass rusher and there’ll be low-level signings along the way, but I really do think the Falcons are a better football team today than they were before the draft, and the focus on defense was welcome. We’ll know in a few months (I hope) if that was good enough. - Dave Choate

The Falcons addressed most of their major needs

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the Falcons had one glaring need: an immediate starting CB. They also had needs of varying significance at DT, LB, C/G, EDGE, and safety. After their six picks—where Dimitroff somehow resisted the temptation to trade up—I’m happy to say that Atlanta addressed most of their major needs. The players selected at each spot weren’t always the best value according to my personal board, but it’s clear from watching Quinn and Dimitroff work that they always do things their own way.

CB A.J. Terrell is somewhat of a controversial pick, but fans shouldn’t sleep on him. The NFL was much higher on Terrell than draft analysts because of Terrell’s ceiling, and he clearly fits the prototype that Dan Quinn looks for in his outside CBs: big, athletic, and competitive. The best pick in the draft might be Auburn DL Marlon Davidson, who can play both strongside EDGE and DT in Atlanta. He can provide the pass rush next to Jarrett that the team has been missing, and he’s no slouch against the run either. Temple C/G Matt Hennessy was a steal at pick 78, and this selection could wind up being looked at as one of the best in the class when we look back in 3-4 years.

The Falcons always do weird things on Day 3, and 2020 was no exception. Fresno State LB Mykal Walker wasn’t really on my radar, but he’s a similar player to De’Vondre Campbell coming out and makes a lot of sense for this team. Same with California S Jaylinn Hawkins, who appears to have been a late riser in the draft process. Hawkins isn’t the best athlete, but he’s a fierce hitter and is actually fairly versatile when it comes to coverage. I’d say he’s a better version of Kemal Ishmael and can be a very good depth player or perhaps even a solid starter at strong safety. I’ll never quibble with seventh-rounders, but P/K Sterling Hofrichter was a weird one for me. However, if the Falcons think he’s the best punter in the draft, I have no problems with spending a 7th on a specialist. That’s the appropriate place to do it.

I’m happy with this draft class and I think the Falcons will wind up with at least two immediate starters. It wasn’t overly flashy, but it addressed needs with good players at every pick. - Kevin Knight