The Falcons’ top priorities this offseason are as apparent as possible: the trenches. Atlanta could be looking at replacing three starters on the offensive line from last year. On defense, finding players who can get after the passer is the key to climbing out of the cellar as a group. That is what Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff will be focused on, but there are several other positions that are in need of some depth.
Given the Falcons have all of their draft picks plus a couple of compensatory selections, look for them to address these depth issues via the later rounds of the draft.
This is probably the Falcons gravest need beyond the trenches. There’s a high chance that Robert Alford is cut this offseason. The Falcons have Isaiah Oliver, their second-round pick from last year, but were hesitant on using him as a rookie. Brian Poole is also a restricted free agent.
The Falcons could use Damontae Kazee as a corner now that Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal will be healthy, but who knows if he will be as successful at corner as he was at safety last year. That means, other than Desmond Trufant; there are far more questions than answers in this unit, which isn’t ideal in a league where passing has become second nature.
With that said, the Falcons are almost guaranteed to add a corner or two in the draft or free agency. Here are some names to watch out for in the draft:
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Personal favorite)
- Amani Oruwariye
- Blace Brown
- Lonnie Johnson Jr.
- Kendall Sheffield
- James Dean
- Trayvon Mullen
- Kris Boyd
- Isaiah Johnson
I know exactly what you’re thinking. The Falcons already have Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and spent a first-round pick on Calvin Ridley last offseason. How could they possibly be in the market for a receiver again? Well, they aren’t really. At least, not for a starting receiver.
But behind those three starters, an exodus could take place. Both Marvin Hall and Justin Hardy will hit free agency. Given their contributions in a limited role, it may be best for both sides that they find a new home.
Leaving rookie, Russell Gage out of LSU, as the only other option at wide-out. Gage showed promise and appeared as a receiver late in the year, but he was drafted more for his abilities on special teams.
Mohamed Sanu is also aging and will be a candidate for free agency before you know it. Atlanta will probably have to add at least one other body here.
Possible draft targets:
- Riley Ridley (Brother to Calvin Ridley)
- DeMarkus Lodge
- Jaylen Smith
- Tyre Brady
- Emanuel Hall
- Hunter Renfroe (Personal favorite)
It’s not what any Atlanta fan wants to hear, but Tevin Coleman is a longshot to return in 2019, leaving Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith and Brian Hill as the remaining running backs on the roster. I’m almost positive that is not the trio of backs the Falcons want to enter next year with.
Freeman has become a liability because of his injury issues; Ito Smith had an excellent rookie campaign, but I don’t think the Falcons would feel comfortable with him as the starter, and they could upgrade from Brian Hill. Look for the Falcons to draft a running back somewhere in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Possible draft targets:
- Bryce Love
- Benny Snell Jr.
- Mike Weber
- Elijah Holyfield
- Darrell Henderson
- Trayveon Williams (Personal favorite)
- Rodney Anderson