With the close of the regular season, one thing is on everyone’s mind: the 2019 Draft in Nashville Tennessee.
The online sportsbook Bookmaker will eventually have odds on the draft picks, and we can bet that Nick Bosa will be the favorite to go No. 1. But that will not affect the Falcons too much because their three consecutive wins (Cardinals, Panthers, and Buccaneers) to close the season, knocked them out of position for a top-ten pick.
And With the 14th Pick in the NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons Choose …
The Falcons are currently sitting at No. 14 for their round-one pick. Obviously, this could change. There is so much wheeling and dealing that happens with trades and draft picks starting right about now. One never really knows when a team is going to pick until it happens. But let’s have a quick look at the current order of the top 15:
- Arizona Cardinals
- San Francisco 49ers
- New York Jets
- Oakland Raiders
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New York Giants
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Detroit Lions
- Denver Broncos
- Buffalo Bills
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Green Bay Packers
- Miami Dolphins
- Atlanta Falcons
- Washington Redskins
With Matty Ice’s 5-year, $100 million guaranteed extension, a quarterback is out of the question for the Falcons in the first round, especially given the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of QB talent declaring for the draft this time around.
Atlanta selected one of the brightest young stars in Calvin Ridley last year, and both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu are under contract until 2021. Devonta Freeman is locked in through 2022 but Tevin Coleman is an unrestricted free agent as of 2019, so we could see him moved out of Atlanta. Although, he is a dynamic addition to the Falcons offense with 800 yards this season on 167 rushing attempts and 32 receptions for an additional 276 yards.
With so much talent at the ‘skill’ positions. The main focus in the draft will likely be shoring up the trenches. Grady Jarrett is hitting free agency so the Falcons are going to have to do everything they can to retain him. But even if they can come to an agreement, picking up Ed Oliver, the star defensive tackle out of Houston in the first round would be a slam dunk. Jaylon Ferguson, the defensive end from Louisiana Tech could also be an option in the second-round or third-round. If Jarret leaves, then getting an Ed Oliver-type becomes a necessity early.
One of the other main weaknesses we saw this season was man coverage in the secondary. Deandre Baker is a fantastic corner coming out of UGA that could help the Falcons against the pass immensely. He would be a day-one starter across from Desmond Trufant, solidifying the Falcons secondary along with the return of Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen.
Another viable second or third round option would be taking a solid offensive guard, like Michael Deiter out of Wisconsin. Andy Levitre is now a free agent, so there is a chance that he won’t be around in 2019 plus, the right side could use some patchwork. There isn’t a long list of talent at guard like there is at tackle, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Chris Lindstrom from Boston College or Terronne Prescod out of NC State are two other options as well.
All in all, the draft will likely focus around the ‘big uglies’ up front. If this talented Falcons offense can get some help with protection and create gaps in the running game, the sky is the limit for this group. On defense, some added depth and increased ability to pressure opposing QBs will create for a deadly combination 2019.
If the Falcons look elsewhere besides the trenches, they would be wise to snatch up Deandre Baker, but he is likely to go in the top ten, so we might see the immediate help in the secondary coming from offseason acquisitions instead of the draft.