Opinion: The Falcons should trade down in the draft

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Despite all the recent rumors on how the Falcons are poised to trade up based on “insiders” or Thomas Dimitroff’s draft history, I believe they should trade down. This is entirely speculation, and I reaffirm my basis that general managers maintain multiple strategies in the case of their draft board falling in unforeseen fashion. But now isn’t the time to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade well into the top 10, mortgaging the team’s future, even if Thomas Dimitroff’s job is on the line.  

With a plethora of holes to fix on the defense and only six draft picks, it would serve Dimitroff and Quinn best to add as many extra selections as they can. Acquiring draft capital in the event of trading back would also allow Dimitroff to trade up in the second or third rounds should he see fit. No matter how this draft shakes out, several prospects Atlanta may be targeting with the 16th pick could be available five to ten selections later. 

Procuring later draft capital to trade up into the second and third rounds is something Bill Belichick has been doing his entire tenure in New England. From 2008-2015, the Patriots had more picks in the first three rounds than any other team despite always reaching the playoffs, which has been extremely effective because of the drop off in talent in the later rounds.

This draft is loaded with wide receivers, offensive tackles, and quarterbacks, two of which are relatively insignificant to Atlanta. With a considerable talent gap between top players and second-tier options at defensive positions of need for the Falcons, Dimitroff should be looking to move either up or down.

If stars like Isaiah Simmons, Chase Young, or Jeff Okudah are out of reach, then it would behoove the Falcons to trade back. Atlanta’s draft board has players like A.J. Epenesa, K’Lavon Chaisson, or Kristian Fulton right behind the elite prospects mentioned before, a few of this next crop of desired options are going be available in the next ten draft selections following Atlanta’s 16th pick.

Trading back in the first round will garner multiple opportunities to select future starters on the team — something that is necessary considering the Falcons top-heavy roster. For speculation purposes, say Atlanta received a third and fifth-round pick for trading back in the first round. The Falcons would be able to select a potential starter with the new third-round pick and package the newly acquired fifth-round pick among their original picks to land another late third-round pick.

The goal in this draft must be to fill as many holes as possible. The Falcons need multiple playmakers across the defensive line. They have to add at least one starting corner, a linebacker and could do themselves a lot of good by bringing in competition at left guard. With next to no cap space remaining, the draft is their only way of filling these holes. Cheap rookie salaries are the best way to offset the team’s few lucrative deals effectively, so it will not only be better for this year, but it will be a plus for years to come if the Falcons could add multiple playmakers in this year’s class. The best way for that to happen is by moving back in the first round. 

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