One post-free agency need that could surprise Falcons fans

NFL: DEC 12 Bears at Packers

The heavy lifting of free agency is in the past. Nearly all of the top free agents have signed already, but there are still a few remaining that could pique the interest of the Falcons. Terry Fontenot will continue to tweak the roster heading into the draft to address needs as best as possible so he can comfortably execute his preferred best player available approach.

As we’ve talked about profusely since the first wave of free agency. The Falcons have to add at least one EDGE defender and a cornerback before the draft. Those are the two most glaring needs, but Pro Football Focus outlined a third post-free agency need for the Falcons that might catch some by surprise — wide receiver.


Team Needs: EDGE, CB, WR

Atlanta still needs major improvements off the edge, given that the team ranked 27th in pass-rush grade last season. They could also use another perimeter player on both sides of the ball, at cornerback and wide receiver.

While they may not have their pick of the litter at wide receiver unless they trade up from the eighth overall selection, they almost certainly will have the first choice if they choose to select an edge rusher or a cornerback. The Kirk Cousins signing has given the Falcons immense flexibility to draft players who fill their needs.

The Falcons totally overhauled the wide receiver room this offseason, signing Darnell Mooney and Ray-Ray McCloud, while also trading for Rondale Moore and bringing back KhaDarel Hodge. The room is in much better shape than it was a few weeks ago, but it’s still not quite enough.

That’s why I’ve continued to pound my fist on the table about wide receiver still being in play for the Falcons with the eighth pick. This is one of the best receiver classes in recent memory. Sure, there might be a tantalizing option available in round two or three, but if one of the top three receivers is on the board when the Falcons are on the clock in the first round, they will be heavily considered.

Defense should be the top priority going into the NFL Draft. Multiple positions must be upgraded, but reaching for players, particularly in the first round, because of need is how general managers start filling out job applications quickly.

A prospect like Dallas Turner or Jared Verse could very well be at the top of the Falcons draft board when they are on the clock. If that’s the case, they should be the pick. But if Rome Odunze is miles clear of any of the defensive prospects in this class, there’s little doubt in my mind that’s the direction the Falcons will choose. The Falcons offense is in good shape, but they could still use another playmaker on the outside, and there could be one available in the first round.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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