The Falcons may well have stuck to their best player available philosophy on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, but they also conveniently came away with two players who filled major needs for them.
That would be Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, who is expected to play left guard in Atlanta, and Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, an imposing and promising edge rusher. Whether both players pan out remain to be seen, but the Falcons targeted an immediate starter and potential future starter on the second day, and those needs were ones they needed to tackle.
On the third day of the draft, however, it’s all about picking upside talent and stocking depth on a team that doesn’t expect to have many open roster spots. Here are the biggest remaining needs for the Falcons as Saturday’s rounds near.
#1: Good players
I’m not wavering here, especially now that we’re exiting the rounds where you can expect to get an immediate starter.
The Falcons just need talent, and if their fourth rounder and seventh rounders (or whatever they trade for) yield some interesting players who can contribute in limited roles and on special teams now and in the future, they’ll be worthwhile. If the fourth round pick in particular yields someone the Falcons think can be more than a useful reserve in the future, even better. This team just needs to make the most of their somewhat limited draft choices this year—trades will do that—to continue to raise the overall talent level of a roster that was among the league’s least talented in recent years.
#2: Wide receiver
The Falcons didn’t address this on day two, so it remains a need. The Falcons lack top-flight speed outside of Scotty Miller, a proven history of production outside of...one year each of Drake London and Mack Hollins, I suppose, and just don’t have hugely intriguing options here outside of London, period.
That fourth round pick could go toward a receiver and I’d be quite happy with it, given that Hollins and Miller are short-term additions and the Falcons need receiver help even if they get creative with how they’re lining up Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and others.
I’ll just repeat what I wrote yesterday: The team has solidified a group of starters with A.J. Terrell, Jeff Okudah, Jessie Bates, and Richie Grant. Unless they love Jaylinn Hawkins, Mike Hughes, or Dee Alford as their nickel back, however, there’s still an opportunity to add a talent who can handle a significant role in this secondary.
Jammie Robinson is the player the team spent time with that’s still available heading into the fourth round, and I like his chances of becoming a Falcon. This team could use a player they think could play at least a small role in 2023 and grow into a long-term option at the nickel.
Troy Andersen is the hyper-intriguing second-year pro, Kaden Elliss the high-upside addition, and Mykal Walker at least a useful reserve with the ability to step in if needed. The Falcons haven’t signed Rashaan Evans and still could use more talent here, even if it’s just depth with some upside, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them address the position given that. Remember, only Andersen and Elliss figure to be here beyond 2023, barring a big season from Walker.
#5: Defensive tackle
I like Ta’Quon Graham, Grady Jarrett is a beast, and David Onyemata is here, with Eddie Goldman also returning. The Falcons should be fine this year on the defensive interior, and perhaps much better than fine.
So why is defensive tackle a need? Beyond Timothy Horne, the 2022 undrafted free agent who may still grab a role, the Falcons are light on youthful depth options here, with Onyemata and Goldman figuring to be short-term solutions and the great Jarrett on the other side of 30. Getting a player you like late and bringing them along slowly to at least provide quality depth feels like a smart move.
What other needs would you put near the top of this list?