Will the Falcons trade up in the draft?

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Disturbingly, the Falcons managed to go 7-9 in 2018 despite beginning the season with Super Bowl aspirations. On the bright side, that means they will be picking much higher in the draft than they have in years past. The Falcons are slated to select 14th and possess their full allotment of draft picks – plus two compensatory picks. That gives Atlanta nine picks, setting up for a tantalizing end to April, especially considering the Falcons have one of the most aggressive general managers when it comes to draft day trading.

Thomas Dimitroff has made at least one trade in every NFL draft since becoming the general manager back in 2008. There have been some not-so-stellar moves like trading two second-round picks and a fourth to move into the first-round and select Sam Baker. Then there have been some slam dunks, like handing five picks to Cleveland for the rights to Julio Jones and moving up ten spots in the fifth round to select Grady Jarrett.

Most recently, Dimitroff has moved up to select Takk McKinley in 2017 and made a small move in 2018, trading up in the sixth round to take Russell Gage out of LSU. The question is not if Dimitroff will make a move come the week of the draft, it’s when.

The Falcons have an opportunity to make a significant splash in the first-round with nine picks at their disposal. That will likely depend on how the top 5-8 picks go. Like every team, Atlanta will have their targets. The plan is that one of them falls to the 14th pick, but if many of the top defensive prospects begin to fall off the board early, Dimitroff may have to step in.

However, with so much apparent talent available in the first round, it’s a little more difficult imagining the Falcons moving up unless they fall in love with a player like they did back in 2011 with Julio Jones. Here are a few names that could have the same effect on Dimitroff:

  1. Rashan Gary
  2. Ed Oliver
  3. Jonah Williams
  4. Devin White

But hypothetically, if all those players were to go before pick 14, that would leave other potential stars like Greedy Williams, DeAndre Baker, and Montez Sweat available.

The Falcons have an abundance of needs on the defensive side of the ball. Dan Quinn mentioned cornerback, defensive end, and strong safety as positions that need to be addressed before the start of the season. He did not include defensive tackle and linebacker in that statement – two other areas the Falcons need to sure-up as well. With some high-quality defensive talent guaranteed to fall, I see Dimitroff being much more active in the middle rounds rather than trading up in the first.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

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