2014 NFL Draft: Updating the Atlanta Falcons’ 5 Biggest Needs
Atlanta Falcons' 5 Biggest Needs in the 2014 NFL Draft
The Falcons used free agency to get bigger and stronger in the trenches by signing or re-signing seven offensive and defensive linemen. They wanted to add toughness to the size requirements, and they succeeded in doing that as well. However, they still have roster holes that need to be addressed before the 2014 season. These are the 5 biggest needs they must use the draft to address.
Following the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, the only tight end you might have heard of on the team is Levine Toilolo. Toilolo made a few big plays in the red zone last season, but he is still a very raw talent. At 6-foot-8, 260-pounds, he has the ideal size to develop into a No. 1 tight end. However, he didn't do much to dispel concerns that scouts had before last year's Draft about his hands and his blocking techniques.
At left tackle, the Falcons are banking on the healthy return of former borderline All-Pro Sam Baker. Unfortunately, Baker hasn't been playing at that caliber for two consecutive seasons. In 2013, things got worse as he tried to battle through injuries and his play plummeted to an all-time low. According to Pro Football Focus, in just 190 snaps, he managed to grade out as the 120th-best out of 128 tackles who played at all in 2013.
3. Edge Rusher
3. Edge Rusher
Just because the Falcons signed and re-signed five defensive linemen doesn't mean they improved their pass rush. Out of the five, only Paul Soliai and Corey Peters have had success generating pressure and both are interior pass rushers. They still need to address the issue of producing pressure off the edge, especially if they plan to use more 3-4 fronts in 2014. Any pass rush where Osi leads the team in sacks is no longer a strong one.
Just about the only offensive tackle who was worse than Sam Baker in 2013 was Lamar Holmes. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished as the second-worst offensive tackle to take a snap last season. Holmes was consistently beat by edge rushers on both sides of the ball, as he played snaps at left and right tackle. Once considered a promising prospect, Holmes is barely a reserve level talent and the team can't go into the season starting him.
Quick, name a safety on the Falcons roster other than William Moore. Now try naming a FS on the roster. The Falcons failed to address free safety in a shallow free agent market. Earlier this offseason they released last year's free safety Thomas DeCoud for salary cap purposes. Earlier this week, they tried stealing RFA FS Rafael Bush from the Saints, but the Saints re-signed him. Now they are forced to address the position in the draft.