Posted: 3:57 p.m. Monday, April 29, 2013
By Dave Choate
It would be the height of foolishness to tell you that the Falcons have mortared over every hole in their roster with their current draft and UDFA class. I personally liked this draft a lot, but you can't say the Falcons have built the perfect juggernaut here, not that we should expect that.
Whether by the vagaries of fate or calculated design, the Falcons wound up not addressing certain positions in the draft. Some of that was obviously intentional, as the Falcons repeatedly passed on defensive tackles in favor of defensive ends, cornerbacks and safeties. In the case of linebacker, I suspect it was because the Falcons watched other teams snap up highly-rated players right in front of them in rounds two and four. Whatever the reason, those holes remain.
Either way, this is a team that will have to get creative or hit free agency to fill these remaining holes. Let's run 'em down.
The Falcons didn't draft a single defensive tackle. They're reportedly bringing the highly intriguing Adam Replogle as a UDFA, but otherwise the team lost Vance Walker and has thus far added no established players.
Jonathan Babineaux is still a strong player, as is Corey Peters, but Peria Jerry's mediocrity is well-established and Travian Robertson is unproven, even if I do believe he's going to be a quality player soon rather than later. Micanor Regis is no lock to make the final roster.
It's possible the Falcons intend to fill this need internally and have the personnel to do so, but it's hard for us to know how that's going to go. Right now, it looks like they could stand to add another piece, even if it's just depth.
As I mentioned earlier, I suspect the Falcons may have wanted to get their hands on a linebacker or two and simply couldn't or didn't get it done. Now there's a little more pressure.
The Falcons will roll with Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon in nickel sets, by and large, with Akeem Dent getting plenty of snaps when they don't. After that, it's between Brian Banks, Patrick Schiller, the UDFA class and potentially seventh-round pick Zeke Motta to provide depth. The team really likes Banks and Schiller and UDFA Nick Clancy are both players with potential, but this isn't the strongest depth chart on the team by any stretch of the imagination, and the Falcons would probably love to roll out a starter other than Stephen Nicholas, freeing him up to be a supersub.
If there's one position where I could see the Falcons trying to add a free agent, this would be it.
The top of the depth chart is very strong and there's some talent in the UDFA crop—I'm intrigued by Darius Johnson—but sandwiched between that there's not a whole hell of a lot.
Harry Douglas is an average slot receiver who can light it up on occasion and offers special teams value, so he's probably safe. But it only takes an injury to make things dicier, forcing the Falcons to roll either Drew Davis or Kevin Cone into the slot. There's upside for both players, but we don't know how much. I'd be in favor of adding one more capable option to the roster if Cone and Davis haven't developed the way the team would like them to.
The Falcons have done a masterful job of finding value on right side of the offensive line, whether we're talking about Tyson Clabo or Garrett Reynolds. Their depth is still largely untested, however, and even though I really like Phillipkeith Manley for the future, it's not necessarily sustainable to stock your line with UDFA types every year.
Unless the team can find another diamond among this year's UDFA crop at tackle, I wouldn't mind seeing depth added outside.
Those are my top four. Share yours in the comments!
First Round: CB Desmond Trufant
Second Round: CB Robert Alford
Fourth Round: DE Malliciah Goodman
Fourth Round Compensatory: TE Levine Toilolo
Fifth Round: DE Stansly Maponga
Seventh Round Compensatory: S Kemal Ishmael
Seventh Round Compensatory: S Zeke Motta
Seventh Round Compensatory:QB Sean Renfree