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Wide receiver stands out among Falcons’ post-draft needs

There are four needs in particular that stand out for the Falcons.

NFL: NOV 20 Bears at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time in recent memory, the Falcons’ roster needs after the NFL Draft are fairly limited. You could get better in some spots with summer free agent additions and pickups after roster cutdowns, probably, but there are very few positions where Atlanta needs to add talent or they’re in big trouble. That is an extremely satisfying result after the Falcons threw around a lot of money in free agency and picked up six players in the 2023 NFL Draft.

What’s left to do? As it stands right now, with the team’s roster more or less full, there are four priorities I’d like to see the team tackle. If you have additional ones, add ‘em in the comments.

1) Wide receiver help

We’ve harped on this, and with good reason. Assuming Bijan Robinson gets a handful of snaps per game as the slot receiver, Kyle Pitts effectively works as a wide receiver for solid stretches of the game, and Cordarrelle Patterson also lines up wide at times, the need is a bit lessened.

That said, while Mack Hollins is a fine stopgap starter who blocks well and is fresh off a 57 catch, 690 yard, four touchdown season, the remaining six players 402 on the depth chart combined last year for 37 catches for 402 yards and one touchdown, with the bulk of those yards earned by Scotty Miller. If injury strikes even a glancing blow on this depth chart, the Falcons are once again in a bad spot.

I fully expect the team to find a free agent addition to beef this group up for that reason alone, but they may want to add a higher end option to push Hollins or Miller for a major role. I’m not sure I’d feel great about this group heading into the season otherwise.

2) Swing tackle candidates

Right now, the Falcons have Ethan Greenidge, Germain Ifedi, Josh Miles, and Tyler Vrabel to compete for a swing tackle role. Greenidge is extremely versatile but doesn’t have significant starting experience, Miles is an imposing player who hasn’t found his way into a major role thus far in his career, Vrabel was a 2022 undrafted free agent, and Ifedi has very little experience on the left side of the line. That’s a long-winded way of saying that there’s not a lot of true swing tackle experience in this group.

If the Falcons love Greenidge as an all-purpose option or feel confident Ifedi can step in at left tackle, then they’re all set. If not, they really could use another option here.

3) Insider linebacker additions

Kaden Elliss and Troy Andersen are set to start and play a lot, and hopefully both are good to go. Mykal Walker might fare better with Ryan Nielsen than Dean Pees or might not. Beyond him, it’s just special teamers like Dorian Etheridge and Tae Davis rounding out the depth chart.

If Walker isn’t viewed as a high-end reserve, the Falcons urgently need to add help here, and the long-standing reports that they’re still looking to add Rashaan Evans back add credence to the idea that they’re not done yet. You could make a reasonable case that this should be higher on the list than swing tackle.

4) Safety depth

Jaylinn Hawkins has plenty of starting experience over the past couple of years, but beyond him there’s no experienced depth and not much depth at all to be seen. Rookie DeMarcco Hellams and veteran Micah Abernathy are the two candidates for a fourth safety role, and unless Hellams impresses this summer, the Falcons might want to add a more experienced candidate just in case.

The Falcons are reasonably well set heading into the summer, even if I expect them to still tweak the roster throughout those months. If they can address these outstanding needs, either by showing us they have capable in-house options or adding more talent, we’ll all feel even better about this roster when Week 1 rolls around.