Need vs. Value: How will the Falcons draft?

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The Falcons’ draft strategy is a fairly straightforward approach. Terry Fontenot has filled out the roster through free agency in each of the last three offseasons, thus allowing a flexible approach come draft time.

Atlanta is able to take the best player available with little consideration for need because of Fontenot’s work, and I don’t see that changing drastically. However, the team is undoubtedly in a position to be a bit more picky in preference of position because of the roster’s state.

For example, Bijan Robinson is arguably a top-five talent in this draft, but his positional value and the Falcons’ current crop of running backs don’t really warrant the selection at the 8th overall pick.

That’s the exact argument ESPN’s Matt Miller and Jordan Reid had — need vs. value for the Falcons draft:

Miller’s pick that fills a big need: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa

Depending on how you feel about QB Desmond Ridder, you might go quarterback here. The Falcons, however, continue to say that Ridder is the starter for 2023, so we’ll take their word for it and look at defensive end. The interior of the defensive line is stacked, but Atlanta could use some speed and power coming off the edge. Van Ness has jaw-dropping power, length and burst.

Reid’s pick that gets best value: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Robinson is a top-five player on my board. Positional downgrade aside, he would likely be among the best prospects on most teams’ boards by this point in the draft, too. Pairing Tyler Allgeier with Robinson gives a run-heavy team a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield. While such a pick could raise some eyebrows on draft night, adding one of the best players in the draft at this spot was a no-brainer in this exercise.

In a different era, Bijan Robinson would be in the conversation for the 1st overall pick; he’s that talented. The Texas product has MVP-caliber potential in the right situation, and there aren’t many destinations better than Atlanta. The club’s run heavy offense would enable Robinson a ton of touches. Moreover, Fontenot has preached his BPA draft philosophy; he’d likely be just that at the Falcons draft pick.

However, it’s impossible to ignore the other side of the argument. The Falcons have an emerging star in Tyler Allgeier; the fifth-round pick was arguably the best rookie running back last season, and the positional value isn’t helping the narrative.

The need for a difference-making pass rusher is also still present. Yes, Fontenot has done an excellent job bolstering the defensive front. Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, Arnold Ebiketie, and DeAngelo Malone are joined by Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Eddie Goldman, Lorenzo Carter, and Bud Dupree.

That’s a very formidable rotation, but I don’t see a double-digit sack guy. Ebiektie could develop into that kind of player, but I can see the argument for taking a blue-chip pass rusher in the first round.

This Falcons draft really could go in a number of different directions.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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