2011 NFL Draft | Atlanta Falcons Team Needs
The Atlanta Falcons proved to be an excellent regular season team, but moved their record to 0-2 in the playoffs since Matt Ryan took his first snap under center.
However, its far from all Matt Ryan’s fault. The team needs to get him some more offensive help, while the secondary needs to improve dramatically. This wasn’t a Super Bowl-ready team in 2010, but they’re only a couple of moves from getting there in 2011.
Biggest Needs: WR, OL, TE
Michael Jenkins isn’t really getting it done anymore (or never was), and the Falcons don’t have enough talent after him. Roddy White is seriously working the secondary on his own much too often, and its time for the Falcons to get a new guy to help stretch the field. Speedsters such as Torrey Smith, Vincent Brown, and Titus Young make the most sense in the first round.
The Falcons aren’t hurting too badly on their offensive line, but they can still use an upgrade at left tackle and either guard position. Ben Ijalana is a very versatile lineman who could help out in either area, while if Gabe Carimi fell to the Falcons in round two, they’d likely jump at the chance of landing him.
Tony Gonzalez has already said he’ll be back for 2011, but he’s nowhere near the guy he was 2-3 years ago. His speed and explosiveness is gone, and he really has been limited to intermediate throws and red-zone duty. Trying to get more out of him is a bit of a waste of time. Even if you want to argue that he’s still got it, he’s definitely getting older, and he won’t be around forever, so Atlanta needs to get a young guy to groom behind him for 2012. Tennessee’s Luke Stocker is a great prospect who can block and catch at the next level, and could be a solid second or third round pick. If Kyle Rudolph somehow falls to them in the second round, they should bite.
Biggest Needs: SS, CB, DE
The biggest problem in Atlanta is the weak secondary. The corners are set, but they have a glaring weakness at strong safety, and simply need another body or two to shore up their cornerback depth. At strong safety, the usual suspects of Ahmad Black and DeAndre McDaniel will be targeted, although both could be gone by the time Atlanta picks again in the second round. If they miss out on both of those guys, Tyler Sash would be a nice selection in the third or fourth round.
Defensive end is another area the Falcons could use an upgrade, as Jonathan Abraham is 33, and the rest of the line isn’t all that imposing when it comes to rushing the passer. Steven Friday would be a nice fit in the second round, while Atlanta will have a hard time passing up Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt if he’s still around at the end of the first.
Linebacker could be touched on to a lesser degree, as Mike Peterson isn’t getting any younger. The Falcons could use their middle round picks on shoring up the depth in both their secondary and line-backing corps.
Overall, we saw in 2010 that the Falcons have the players on both sides of the ball to be a great team. They just need to address their holes in the secondary and get a little more explosive in the passing game. They’re not far from being a strong Super Bowl contender, and with a good draft, they’ll be right back in the mix of things in 2011.