The Atlanta Falcons see flashes of Bob Whitfield the former Stanford offensive tackle that Atlanta drafted in round 1 with Jonathan Martin. Its too bad that Atlanta does not pick until the end of the 2nd round. Would Atlanta deal a another future first round pick like they did with Julio Jones to get Martin if they are so high on him?
Free Agency Recap
Atlanta retained players like cornerback Brent Grimes, center Todd McClure, defensive end John Abraham, free safety Thomas DeCoud, and slot receiver Harry Douglass. Atlanta also retained reserve defensive end Kroy Bierman and reserve running back Jason Snelling. Atlanta wants to continue to develop their team while building though the draft. The loss of middle linebacker Curtis Lofton to the division rival New Orleans Saints hurts Atlanta.
2012 Atlanta Falcons Draft Needs
Left Tackle Atlanta’s biggest need is at left tackle. Sam Baker got benched midseason. Atlanta wants to solve their right guard problem by having Sam Baker move to right guard with Vince Manuwai for depth as a backup. The Falcons need to find a left tackle.
Tight End The Falcons need a tight end. Tony Gonzalez is aging. Atlanta needs to add a new tight end in 2012. The Falcons need to make a play for a tight end on round 3 if no one slips to round 3 then Atlanta will likely end up looking at Tyler Eifert as a 2013 first round prospect unless they move up for Jonathan Martin.
Dwayne Allen, Cory Harkey, James Hanna, Orson Charles, and Michael Egnew are tight ends with 3rd round talent. These are all my top 5 ranked tight ends after 1st round tight end prospect Coby Fleener.
2012 Atlanta Falcons Draft Strategy
Atlanta has two dire needs at left tackle and tight end. The Falcons have quality depth players at the other positions who could win some starting jobs that are up for grabs in Falcons training camp. Atlanta does not pick until 55 overall which is the big problem. Unless Jonathan Martin slips to 31 and Atlanta wants to give up a 2013 first rounder for his services, Atlanta should wait until an offensive tackle is there at 55. There is no guarantee that an offensive tackle will be there at 55.
The Falcons may have to trade up for an offensive tackle like Jonathan Martin or Mike Adams. This means Atlanta has to trade back into the first round or make a deal with St. Louis at the top of the 2nd round at 33.
Dwayne Allen is the top graded tight end outside of Coby Fleener. I had Allen graded out as a 3rd round talent. Allen may get bumped up into the 2nd round due to the demand at tight end.
The Falcons should get a tight end in round 3 who could be a developmental tight end to groom behind Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta may need to move up for a left tackle. The Falcons could be in for a setback season without offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey if they cannot find an immediate starter at left tackle or a future starter at tight end.
Playoffs or No Playoffs? No Playoffs. Atlanta will likely only address one of these long term solutions in the draft. Having new coordinators could also keep this team from contending.
Atlanta lost middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. I thought Atlanta’s pass rush with Jonathan Abraham and Ray Edwards had promise which was one of many reasons why the Falcons were my preseason pick to beat New England in Super Bowl 46. Atlanta’s pass rush was suspect plus Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes can get picked apart if you have a quarterback with an elite skill set.
Drew Brees, Josh Freeman, and Cam Newton can all throw 200 passing yards with ease against the Falcons pass defense. If these quarterbacks make the right reads and get the ample time from the offensive lineman then I could see one of these quarterbacks dropping 500 passing yards on Atlanta’s pass defense.