The Falcons didn't make that many moves in the off-season but they picked up two experienced and talented veterans, one to help out their offense and the other the defense.
First, let's turn our attention to the Atlanta offense, directed by one of the league's elite quarterbacks in Matt Ryan. He orchestrates a high octane passing attack, throwing to receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Falcons got some great news when future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez said he would come back for one more season.
A new wrinkle for Mike Smith's offense this fall will be the addition of running back Steven Jackson. Jackson played well for the Rams and did some great things on some pretty bad teams since 2004. He has over 10,000 career rushing yards and has rushed for 1,000 yards for eight consecutive seasons. It would be huge for the Falcons if he can do that again in 2013. While they netted a really good back in Jackson Atlanta also cut ties with Michael Turner.
Another key acquisition was defensive end Osi Umenyiora. He was a fixture on the Giants front for years and helped led them to two Super Bowl titles. The Falcons were looking to add some pass rushers and he could really give their defense a boost. At the same time Atlanta elected not to re-sign defensive end John Abraham. Also gone from the secondary are Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes.
The Falcons will have a shot to land a pretty darn good cornerback at their current spot of No. 30 in the first round. They are hoping Desmond Trufant falls to them but he will likely be gone. So if they go this route they could go a number of directions. The Falcons could choose to wait until pick 60 in the second round but I expect a run at this position at some point before their second pick. My hunch is this is the direction the Falcons go unless a big time guy falls their way.
2) Defensive End
I believe Atlanta is hoping a pass rusher is still available by the time they pick in the first round. Maybe it's Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore. Perhaps they are sandbagging everyone and truly love Tank Carradine from FSU? Or, they could address this need in the second or third round. You can get a good defensive end in the first half of this draft.
The Falcons would love to improve their play at middle and strongside linebacker. Atlanta has ten picks and I would very well see them using one on each of these positions. There are a handful of players they could target in the middle of the draft (rounds three, four or five) where they have five picks.
4) Tight End
Here's the dilemma the Falcons have – at No. 30 overall there is a chance that Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz are still on the board. There's at least the possibility that one of them is still out there. It would be a very nice situation for the Falcons to draft one of these two tight ends with that first pick and let him play with Gonzalez for the next year. That player could be the heir apparent at a critical position in the Falcons offense.
5) Running Back
There's no question that Jackson should have a big role in the Atlanta offense. But he's getting up there in the years. They have a nice back up in Jacquizz Rodgers. They could use another compliment to this unit.
Steven Jackson (RB)
Osi Umenyiora (DE)
Brian Banks (LB)
No Longer With The Team
Michael Turner (RB)
Tyson Clabo (OT)
Will Svitek (OT)
Lawrence Sidbury (DE)
John Abraham (DE)
Vance Walker (DT)
Dunta Robinson (CB)
Brent Grimes (CB)
Chris Owens (CB)
NFL Draft Story Central