The Athletic identifies Falcons biggest offseason needs

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There’s no shortage of areas the Falcons can upgrade this offseason. Despite a drastic improvement in 2022, the offensive line needs addressing. The receiving core needs additions, and the defense needs an influx of talent everywhere, none more pressing than pass rushers.

The Athletic identified each NFL team’s biggest need, and it’s no surprise which position group Josh Kendall chose — pass rusher.

This could mean edge rusher or interior defensive line, and it probably means both. The Falcons drafted outside linebackers Arnold Ebiketie (second round) and DeAngelo Malone (third round) last year and didn’t get much immediate help (3 1/2 combined sacks). This time, with at least $55 million in salary-cap space, they can go after proven, veteran players. Given that they just hired Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator, edge rusher Marcus Davenport and tackle David Onyemata look like the most obvious targets. If the Eagles don’t bring back tackle Javon Hargrave, he could be a top-shelf option. — Josh Kendall

Every single Falcons fan has been clamoring for the team to draft defenders to help what has been an anemic pass rush. Atlanta took two edge defenders in last year’s draft, but the results weren’t inspiring. Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone flashed at times and should experience substantial growth going into their second seasons. However, there needs to be more investment in the defensive line; there’s no arguing. I will contend that it won’t fix the pass rush, though.

The Falcons defense was pretty terrible in every facet of the game last season. Without stopping the run and forcing third downs, the pass rush won’t matter. Without competent coverage behind the pass rush, quarterbacks will just get the ball out quickly. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to pressure quarterbacks. Atlanta’s defense is so deficient of talent that improvements anywhere will result in a better pass rush.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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