As teams get ready for the start of the draft process, the Atlanta Falcons will try to put their heartbreaking Super bowl 51 defeat behind them. They come into the 2017 NFL season with no glaring holes to fill, but they certainly can improve in some key areas. While their offensive unit is easily the best in the league, they may use their first round pick to add depth to their offensive line. On the other side of the ball, their defensive improved vastly heading into the playoffs, but a lack of depth definitely played a part in their Super Bowl loss. While Coach Quinn and the rest of his staff evaluate potential draft picks, we will take a look at three potential new Falcons.
Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn
A speedy rusher from Auburn, Lawson’s collegiate career was hampered by a string of injuries. If healthy, his speed from the outside should help to stabilize the Falcons pass rush. With his quickness off the line and good hands, he seems to fit in as a less explosive, but bigger edge rusher than Vic Beasley. His size and quickness gives him flexibility on where Quinn can play him. Even though he has experience as both an interior lineman and linebacker, I wouldn’t expect the Falcons to move him from Defensive End. While his injury past can be an issue, he can be a solid fit opposite Adrian Clayborn if other players are taken higher than expected.
Gareon Conley – CB – Ohio State
Another option for the Falcons would be Gareon Conley, a lanky corner back out of Ohio State. Conley has this mix of size and physicality that Quinn looks for in a secondary, while being able to play all corner back positions. While the Falcons have a decent amount of corner backs already, none outside of Trufant have proven to be irreplaceable. If the Falcons were to take Conley in the first round, it would increase the pressure on both Jalen Collins and Robert Alford to improve their play. While Conley has the physicality that Quinn looks for in corners, he lacks some awareness and has a tendency to hold when beaten, which he will need to reduce if he hopes to be a NFL starter.
Derek Barnett – EDGE – Tennessee
The last potential pick we will take a look at is Derek Barnett. The strong defensive end out of Tennessee is very flexible and has good hands and quickness for someone who lacks arm length. He has solid play awareness to go with his quickness. Some negatives are his lack of play discipline in regards to snap counts and the length of time it takes him to change directions. There may still be concern that his lack of arm length limits his effectiveness in the pros. Given all that, he still is one of the more impressive edge rushers in the draft, and the Falcons would be foolish not to pick him up if hes even still available at number 31.
While the Falcons don’t have any glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball, I think they will choose to reinforce they’re oft depleted defensive line. We saw how vulnerable they were once Clayborn was injured. If they can add pass rushing help, that will take some of the load off of Beasley and free him to play a more balanced game. If most of the pass rushing talent is off the board by pick number thirty one, they may choose to add depth to they’re secondary with physical play makers. Either way, it will be interesting to see what the Falcons prioritize moving forward in the draft.
All Draft Profiles Via NFL.com
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