Free agents still available to fill positions of need for Falcons

NFL: SEP 18 Jets at Browns

The Falcons are a couple of weeks away from the NFL Draft, and there’s a consensus on who they’ll target.

Dallas Turner has been the most popular prospect going No. 8 in mock drafts, and that narrative carries beyond just fictitious mocks. Vegas also thinks it’s going to be the Alabama product.

However, Terry Fontenot has been a staunch proponent of drafting the best player available, regardless of position, evident in last year’s cycle when Atlanta took Bijan Robinson with Tyler Allgeier coming off a record-breaking rookie campaign.

That doesn’t mean Turner, Jared Verse, or Laiatu Latu won’t be the pick. What it means is the Falcons should be expected to draft the best player available, not because of need.

The Falcons still need a starting-caliber pass rusher opposite Arnold Ebiketie, a starting-caliber corner opposite A.J. Terrell, and another receiver and safety couldn’t hurt.

If the club doesn’t fill those holes in the draft, there may still be options on the free agent market following the draft.

Yannick Ngakoue

You could argue that Ngakoue is the best pass rusher available, even if he’s coming off a down season. He finished with career lows in sacks and pressures, ending a streak of seven seasons with 8+ sacks. After signing late in the offseason last year, it’s safe to assume he’ll do the same this one.

Emmanuel Ogbah

Ogbah’s surface-level numbers don’t tell the full story. Despite only recording five sacks last season, he had a 13.9% pressure rate in only 240 snaps. For a rotational pass rusher, the Falcons could do much worse.

Carl Lawson

Lawson was limited last season because of a back injury but was coming off a 2022 campaign in which he posted seven sacks and 49 pressures. If he’s healthy, the Falcons could very well have found their starter.

Bud Dupree

Dupree had his best season in Atlanta since 2020. The Falcons signed him last offseason and he led the defense with 6.5 sacks. Dupree isn’t going to shoulder the load of a pass rusher, but none of these guys are. We just need someone who can be productive.

Calais Campbell

Campbell had 42 pressures and 6.5 sacks last season, playing most of his snaps off the edge. The Falcons want him back, but I’m not sure Campbell is evening going to return for a 17th season. If he does, Atlanta has to be in the running for the veteran’s services.

Stephon Gilmore

Even though he’s 33 years old, Gilmore is still a very good cornerback. There aren’t many durable starters left on the market, and the former Defensive Player of the Year is one of them. If the Falcons don’t find a starter in the draft, I would love Gilmore in Atlanta.

Hunter Renfrow

Receiver is still a sneaky need. Renfrow’s career peaked in 2021, when posted 103 receptions, 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl, but he’s had just 61 catches for 585 yards and two scores since, missing a lot of time in 2022. He’s still a savvy route runner who can work over the middle for the Falcons.

Photographer: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire


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