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Atlanta Falcons - 11-5 - Head Coach - Mike Smith - 2nd Year
Photo - DT Peria Jerry - Ole Miss
The Falcons pulled off a major trade acquiring veteran Pro Bowl TE Tony Gonzalez for a #2 pick in the NFL Draft 2010. Gonzalez gives young QB Matt Ryan a valuable weapon for their passing game. He will open up the middle zones for the wide receivers and keep linebackers out of the box for tough runner Michael Turner. His acquisition allows the Falcons to focus on defense early in the draft and primarily on their front seven positions. They could possibly use all their top 100 selections on the defensive side of the ball to improve a young unit that has undergone many changes over recent offseasons.
Atlanta Falcon Team Report
Key Team Needs:
1. DT 2. LB 3. CB 4. OT 5. S
1. Defensive Tackle - The Falcons will probably address the DT position in the early rounds with a possible #1 selection if DT Peria Jerry or Ziggy Hood are still on the board at the 24th overall pick. Young potential starters Jon Babineaux and Trey Lewis are still untested. They have become very interested in both Jerry and Hood over recent weeks. They also like Corvey Irwin and Alex Magee in the 3rd round.
2. Linebacker - The Falcons lost Michael Boley in FA after releasing Keith Brooking. They have little depth currently and could address both the inside and outside spots. They hope to address this area with at least prime top 100 selection and could use a #1 pick on Clay Matthews or Brian Cushing. They have OLB Marcus Freeman and Ashlee Palmer on their 3rd round list. They also like Tyrone McKenzie in the middle rounds.
3. Cornerback - The secondary may be addressed at both the safety and corner positions. They could surprise and address the corner early and they like Darius Butler very much in the late 1st round. In the 2nd round, they could add CB D.J. Moore who would be a major boost to their return game. They like Bradley Fletcher and Asher Allen in the 3rd round.
4. Offensive Tackle - The Falcons have pressing needs at right tackle. They will look to add a right tackle early to couple with last year’s #1 pick Sam Baker. They will consider OT Eben Britton in the first round. He has the ability to play either side and start as a rookie. They like Troy Kropog and Jason Watkins in the middle rounds.
5. Safety - The Falcons released veteran Lawyer Milloy and will look to young Thomas DeCoud to step in and claim a starting job. They have little depth behind projected starters. They hope to address this area with at least prime top 100 selection and have Rashad Johnson on their early middle round list. They also like Darcel McBath and Chip Vaughn and have them on their 3rd round list.
The Falcons had their best draft class in franchise history last April selecting possibly six starters including franchise QB Matt Ryan. They still have clear needs on both sides of the ball. On the late first round, they like DT Peria Jerry and LB Brian Cushing and will debate those two to the last minute. DT Ziggy Hood could be a surprise #1 pick. They could use most of their draft choices on defensive players including a few picks for their changing secondary. Their biggest offensive need is a big mobile tackle with an early starting grade. He would be difficult to pass on OT Britton if available. Their defense will probably be the primary focus of the draft with each unit in need of an influx of talent. Both the linebacker unit and secondary are high priorities. They see Brian Cushing as a Keith Brooking clone. In a good defensive back class; they may address both the corner and safety spot twice by the middle rounds. Cornerback is still a high need and could be addressed in early rounds. They may find several top athletes like Darius Butler or Alphonso Smith available.
1st Round - DT Peria Jerry - Ole Miss - Mobile defender would be a fine addition for the inside.
Alternate Pick - CB Darius Butler - Upon Natural cover defender would be an excellent addition.