The 2018 NFL Draft is under two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile.
After their Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, the Falcons won 10 games last year. They were bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round by the eventual champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Their defense stepped up last season, ranking eighth in points allowed per game. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t get going like in previous years and they ranked 15th in point per game. The Falcons were able to move the ball decently but failed to reach the end zone on a lot of drives.
A lot of the blame has been placed on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, as he failed to get wide receiver Julio Jones involved in the offense near the goal line. Jones finished the season with just three receiving touchdowns, which severely limited the Falcons’ offense.
Sarkisian and most players from the Falcons’ offense return for next season, so they will have to figure out how to get the most out of the talent on their roster. Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Austin Hooper are the playmakers on offense. Atlanta should be pretty set with that but may need some more depth at some of those positions heading into next season.
The offensive line was solid for Atlanta last season, but this might be a place where they try to use a draft pick for depth or to enhance one of their weaker positions.
On the defensive side of the ball, the unit was improved, but Adrian Clayborne left via free agency. Takkarist McKinley will be tasked with stepping up on the opposite side of the field of Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley only had five sacks in 14 games and will also need to improve for next season. Grady Jarrett is solid at the defensive tackle position, but more will be needed.
Their linebackers are young and talented, leaving little to be addressed at the position. The Falcons have made a concerted effort to improve their secondary through the draft the last couple of years and have built a good secondary, which allows the 13th fewest passing yards per game in the league.
Atlanta still has a solid roster and with a good draft, can put themselves right back in the Super Bowl next season.
Picks and Needs
The Falcons have seven picks in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Bills and received a compensatory pick in the seventh round to reach that number.
First Round (1 pick): 26
Second Round (1): 58
Third Round (1): 90
Fourth Round (1): 126
Fifth Round (0):
Sixth Round (1): 200
Seventh Round (2): 244, 256
Wide receiver- Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu are a good start to a receiving core, but there isn’t much behind them. They can take a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft, who should be able to give them more depth at the position.
Offensive line depth- Brandon Fusco was signed to play guard, but a few more players to fill out the roster could be added in the draft.
Backup quarterback- Matt Ryan is here to stay, but if he goes down with an injury, the Falcons aren’t looking too great. Matt Schaub and Garrett Grayson are the other quarterbacks on the roster, but Atlanta could take a project quarterback to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan.
Defensive tackle- Jarrett is good, but after Dontari Poe left in free agency a replacement is needed. They gave up the ninth fewest rushing yards in the league last season and will want to keep that up.
Defensive end depth- Brooks Reed and McKinley will help fill the void left by Clayborne, but more pass rushers will be needed in to bolster their depth chart.
Pick No. 26: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons can likely get a replacement for Poe in round one. With a few talented defensive tackles in the class, one could fall to number 26. Bryan is athletic for a defensive tackle and can start from day one if needed. He is most known for stopping the run, but can also help out the pass rush, as he had four sacks last season for the Gators.
Pick No. 58: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
In order to find another viable option at the receiver position, the Falcons can select Anthony Miller. He has the versatility to play in the slot or on the outside and made tons of highlight reel catches in college. He does have inconsistent hands and isn’t the biggest, but he makes plays. With him, Sanu, Jones and Hooper on the field, the Falcons should be able to return to offensive prominence.
Pick No. 90: Austin Corbett, G/C, Nevada
Atlanta will see how Fusco does at right guard but may want to have a backup plan in case things don’t go well. Corbett has drawn comparisons to the Browns’ Joel Bitonio because they both played at Nevada and will move from tackle to the inside of the line. If he can figure out the nuances of playing guard at the NFL level, he could take the job from Fusco.
There isn’t much separating this team from another shot at the Super Bowl. If Sarkisian calls the right plays, this team has the talent to do a lot of damage. If they can fill their few needs in the draft, they will be ready to roll for the start of the 2018 season.