The NFL Draft is on track to begin in a little over three weeks, but preparing for it is as tricky as ever. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, teams have to meet with prospects over video chat. Pre-Draft visits and pro days have been canceled. The teams have the NFL Combine and the tape to look at, but the scouting material is limited compared to most years. The Draft itself will be held digitally with no fans. It will be quite different, perhaps strange, but we will get a taste of sports in late April.
Despite team facilities being closed, they are still using technology to prepare as much as possible. The Falcons have likely met with a plethora of players, but something tells me that a couple of reports from Justin Melo of Draft Wire may be indicative of their plans heading into the NFL Draft.
Melo also added that the team did the same with Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes:
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) March 27, 2020
Perhaps the Falcons take the best player available early on in this year’s draft, but cornerback is such a pressing need that they may address it first regardless. Heading into free agency, the pass rush was their most glaring hole, but that all changed when they signed Dante Fowler Jr. and cut Desmond Trufant.
However, with the Falcons allowing both Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn to walk in free agency, they need additional bodies to attack opposing passers. Right now, it appears they are doing their due diligence on second and third-tier pass rushers from this year’s class. The two players mentioned above are projected to be selected somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.
For all we know, these meetings were conducted before Fowler joined Atlanta, but rumors of his interest in the Falcons have been around for months. They likely had an idea of how to attack this offseason, and I fully expect them to take another pass rusher in the top half of the Draft in efforts to revamp the unit, especially with Takk McKinley’s future with the team in question. But doubling down in the later rounds would be a wise idea. Atlanta’s pass-rushing woes have been around for over a decade. Hopefully, the Dante Fowler signing is a signal that sacking the quarterback is their number one priority.