The Falcons can go in a number of different directions in April’s NFL Draft. Atlanta’s roster needs an influx of talent at most positions, so the plan should be to select the best available prospect. It could be an edge defender like Tyree Wilson or a corner like Christian Gonzalez. With the regime noncommittal to Desmond Ridder, the Falcons also might be in the market for a quarterback. Offensive line is just as possible as well.
The Falcons can stand to upgrade several positions along the offensive line. Drew Dalman performed admirably, but the team could benefit greatly from an elite center. Left guard still needs a long-term answer, but perhaps the most glaring hole as of now is right tackle. The Falcons decided against using the franchise tag on Kaleb McGary, which means if they don’t reach an extension with him before March 15th, he’ll become a free agent. That feels likely at this point, so taking a right tackle in the draft would fill one of the bigger needs on the roster.
There are a few prospects that could replace McGary. Broderick Jones and Paris Johnson Jr. are popular selections in mock drafts; however, it’s Peter Skoronski that NFL GMs and executives have mocked to Atlanta.
Atlanta holds a top-10 pick for the third consecutive draft. Will it mark the third consecutive time the Falcons have used that pick for a non-quarterback? They appear committed to developing Desmond Ridder. Would they waver if Richardson or Levis were available? What about Carter, the in-state prospect whose pass-rushing talent would dramatically upgrade Atlanta’s primary weakness?
A GM who thought Carter would be the second non-quarterback selected thought offensive line made sense for the Falcons, whether it’s Skoronski or Johnson, on the thinking the team will want to upgrade its protection for Ridder.
“In this scenario, there would not be a defensive lineman on the board, because I think Carter will be taken,” this GM said. “I think they would go big guy before Witherspoon or another corner. They have (A.J.) Terrell, who has played really well. They would look at this as, ‘Hey, we really need an edge presence, but if we can’t get an edge presence, let’s make sure we keep the offensive line good for this young quarterback that we are going to try to play with this season.’”
Skoronski’s biggest knock is his arm length, but Rashawn Slater’s case should nix any concerns for the Northwestern product. From all the draft reports, Skoronski will be an outstanding NFL guard and should be able to develop into a tackle. Most people felt Slater was a guard coming out of college, but as we’ve seen, if a player’s feet and movement are good enough, playing tackle in the NFL with shorter arms is possible.
Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire