How does the Jeff Okudah trade impact the Falcons draft plans?

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The Falcons‘ roster is in its best state since the new regime took over. It’s no coincidence Terry Fontenot has put together the most well-rounded group as the club gets out from underneath a mountain of dead money.

Atlanta has used its cap space to bolster what was one of the worst defenses in the league, adding talent on all three levels. Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, David Onyemata, and Calais Campbell headline the free agent class, but there were other moves that give the team worthwhile depth. Bud Dupree, Lorenzo Carter, and Mike Hughes are notable signings, but the most recent acquisition was former third overall pick Jeff Okudah.

The Falcons sent the Lions a fifth-rounder for Okudah, and to make the deal even sweeter, Detroit took on a portion of his salary to facilitate the deal. Before the trade, cornerback was one of the positions that could’ve used strengthening. The edge unit was in the same conversation, and the additions of Okudah and Dupree put the Falcons in a position to address the draft with a best player available strategy.

Yes, that means corner is still a possibility for the Falcons. There are several reasons for that.

Primarily, the Falcons didn’t acquire some sure-fire CB2 to be AJ Terrell‘s long term running mate. That’s the ideal scenario, but it’s not likely. The Lions traded Jeff Okudah away for a reason. He hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status, struggling to stay on the field. Granted, injuries are mostly to blame for him not realizing his full potential, but it’s not guaranteed to workout in Atlanta’s favor.

Moreover, even if the Okudah experiment works out, he’s set to test free agency this offseason if the club doesn’t exercise his fifth-year option, which is a certainty at this point. With Casey Hayward entering the last year of his contract, I would argue cornerback is a bigger need than most people would have you believe.

The Falcons filled most of the roster’s needs in free agency or via trade. There isn’t a glaring need that has to be filled, which allows Terry Fontenot to remain flexible in the draft. Cornerback is still a possibility for the Falcons, along with every other position.

Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire

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