Bleacher Report identifies Falcons under-the-radar roster needs and how to fill them

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The Falcons‘ offseason is going to be defined by what they do at the quarterback position, but there are other roster needs that need to be addressed.

The next two that come to mind are arguably the next two most important positions in the sport — pass rushers and pass catchers. The Falcons still need another edge rusher opposite of Arnold Ebiketie unless they’re satisfied with Lorenzo Carter, which shouldn’t be the case. And they need another wideout or two to join Drake London.

Outside of those, the club does have other holes, albeit smaller and less pressing, they need to fill. Bleacher Report recently identified three under-the-radar needs for the Falcons and how they could fill each one.

Need No. 1 – Cornerback

How to Fill It:

The Atlanta Falcons were solid defensively in 2023, ending the year ranked 11th overall. The Falcons also fared well against the pass, ranking 10th in net yards per pass attempt allowed, though it would be wise to add cornerback depth this offseason.

Jeff Okudah and Tre Flowers are both scheduled to become free agents in March.

Expect Atlanta to spend most of its draft and cap capital addressing needs at quarterback, edge-rusher and receiver. However, taking a chance on a middle-tier free-agent cornerback like Adoree’ Jackson or Rock-Ya Sin would be advisable.

The Falcons should also consider adding a corner in the middle rounds of the draft, with prospects like Penn State’s Kalen King and Auburn’s D.J. James on their radar.

I don’t even know if cornerback is a sneaky need. The Falcons had a revolving door opposite of A.J. Terrell, with Dee Alford and Mike Hughes manning the slot while Jeff Okudah, Tre Flowers, and Clark Phillips spent time on the boundary.

Other than the top three needs, cornerback would be the most pressing, in my opinion. The Falcons have seen what injuries can do to the position. Much like pitching in baseball, teams can never have enough good corners.

Need No. 2 – Safety

How to Fill It:

Safety isn’t a major need for the Falcons, especially after DeMarco Hellams’ late-season emergence. 2023 addition Jessie Bates III is entrenched as a quality starter at free safety.

However, Atlanta may look to move on from veteran strong safety Richie Grant, who was replaced by Hellams late in the year. Releasing Grant would save $1.8 million in cap space.

While Hellams did show a good amount of potential as a rookie, it would still be wise to have some insurance at the position. Adding an experienced defender like Chuck Clark or Kareem Jackson would help protect the Falcons from any regression that Hellams might experience in Year 2.

Now, this is a good proposal for an under-the-radar need. Richie Grant hasn’t quite developed as the Falcons had hoped after taking him in the second round of the 2021 draft. He eventually lost his starting job to rookie seventh-round pick DeMarrco Hellams. Grant’s standing within the organization has never been less clear. Depending on how Jimmy Lake and Raheem Morris see the pair of safeties, it could go from a sneaky need to an obvious one.

Need No. 3 – Return Specialist

How to Fill It:

With receiver/runner/returner Cordarrelle Patterson set to be a free agent, the Falcons may find themselves in need of a new kick returner.

Dee Alford was the team’s primary punt returner last season, and he did return a couple of kicks, so trying him in both roles may be option No. 1. Re-signing Patterson would also address the issue, but Patterson will turn 33 next month, so Atlanta may prefer to go with a younger option.

Ideally, the Falcons would find a returner in the draft who can also contribute at another position. Due to evolving NFL kickoff rules, the kick returner isn’t as important as it once was, though having one on the roster is still necessary.

Taking a flier on a prospect like New Hampshire running back Dylan Laube—who returned kickoffs and punts in college—would be logical.

I think this is another bad one. The Falcons are expected to welcome back Avery Williams in 2024 after he missed the entire 2023 campaign with a torn ACL. Maybe it’s not fair to expect the Boise State product to return to the level of play he was at before the injury, but Williams wouldn’t be the first to suffer a serious injury and come back stronger. The Falcons sure did miss his presence on special teams in 2023. If he’s back and healthy, both return spots will be covered.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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