ESPN’s biggest remaining roster hole for Falcons will shock fans

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The Falcons came out of the NFL Draft filling their biggest roster hole, overhauling the defensive front completely.

Atlanta spent their second, third, and fourth-round picks on defenders. Ruke Orhorhoro, Bralen Trice, and Brandon Dorlus aren’t going to turn the Falcons into a top 5 pass rush, but they should help, and Raheem Morris had a ton of success with rookie pass rushers last year in Los Angeles.

However, the Falcons still came out of the NFL Draft with holes, specifically in the secondary. Atlanta’s most pressing need behind the pass rush was cornerback, and Terry Fontenot didn’t bring in a single one through the draft.

At this point, it seems the Falcons are content with pairing A.J. Terrell with two of Clark Phillips, Dee Alford, Mike Hughes, Kevin King, and Antonio Hamilton. It still wouldn’t hurt to bring in a proven commodity at the position, but the Falcons’ biggest remaining roster need, according to ESPN, isn’t corner.

Roster hole: Strong safety

Jessie Bates III is a star at free safety, but the Falcons’ strong safety position is a mess. Richie Grant has regressed significantly in his three NFL seasons, in particular giving up a lot of big plays to opposing tight ends. (Atlanta ranked 31st in DVOA in covering tight ends last season.) The alternative to Grant is 2023 seventh-rounder DeMarcco Hellams. He’s physical but lacks speed, so he might also be a problem when covering tight ends. Micah Abernathy is primarily a special teams gunner. Lukas Denis spent all last year on Atlanta’s practice squad.

I don’t disagree that the Falcons could use a starting-caliber safety, but I still think the club’s focus should be on a cornerback. Richie Grant and DeMarcco Hellams should be able to shoulder the load of strong safety duties in a defense that primarily runs cover 3 schemes.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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