Nobody in Atlanta could’ve predicted such a terrible season from a team that had reached the playoffs in four of the past five seasons. The Atlanta Falcons’ struggles can be attributed to the long list of star players dealing with injuries. It’s hard to find success when players like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steven Jackson and Sean Weatherspoon have all missed significant time.
There’s no doubt that everyone in Atlanta is disappointed, but this year is going to provide a unique opportunity. Atlanta is on pace to land a pick in the top-5 of the 2014 NFL Draft. This will allow them to add a difference maker at any number of positions.
Atlanta could go in several directions with this pick including upgrading the offensive line, adding a potentially dominant pass rusher and bringing in a playmaking linebacker.
Because the Falcons’ offense is centered on stretching the field with Jones and White, it makes sense to ensure the offensive line is in order. Sam Baker has again struggled with injuries and inconsistency. The fact that he’s so unreliable makes someone like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews a potential fit for the Falcons.
Matthews would represent an upgrade at left tackle and allow the Falcons to rotate Baker to the right side.
On the defensive side of the ball, Atlanta is in desperate need for an upgrade in the pass-rush department. They currently rank No. 26 in the league with only 19 sacks on the season. UCLA’s Anthony Barr or even South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney both should be high on the Falcons’ draft board.
The second round is also an area where Atlanta could address the pass-rush problem. Missouri’s Kony Ealy and Virginia Tech’s James Gayle would make a ton of sense early in the second round.
Atlanta Falcons Mock:
1st Round- Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
2nd Round- Kony Ealy, Defensive End, Missouri
3rd Round- Troy Niklas, Tight End, Notre Dame