Since Thomas Dimitroff came to Atlanta, the Falcons have had some pretty good draft classes. They have drafted key players like Matt Ryan, Curtis Lofton, Thomas DeCoud, Harry Douglas, Kroy Biermann, William Moore, Sean Weatherspoon and Julio Jones.
However, the Falcons have also drafted a few guys in top spots that have not played out quite as well as they would have hoped.
Atlanta spent money on some pretty high draft picks on guys like Sam Baker, Peria Jerry, Chevis Jackson and Mike Johnson, none of which have been the players the Falcons hoped they were getting.
The Falcons, like many other NFL teams, have been almost hit and miss on every one of their draft picks. We have not seen many late round gems from this team, and they have also given up a lot in past drafts.
The Falcons are one of the teams in the league that seem to be one good offseason away from a Super Bowl title. Atlanta thought they had that problem solved last year when they traded up to the sixth pick in the draft to grab Jones. However, the Falcons still have a ways to go before they can become a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Falcons need to avoid five mistakes that they have made in NFL Drafts in the past. Let's take a look at those mistakes.
It has become obvious that the Atlanta Falcons' weakness lies on the offensive line.
This group could not do anything to help out their team in the playoff game against the Giants, and throughout 2011 they showed that help is needed. The Falcons can solve this issue by drafting a lineman in earlier rounds.
In the 2011 NFL Draft the Falcons picked Andrew Jackson, a guard out of Fresno State, with 210th overall pick in the seventh round. Jackson did not play at all for the Falcons.
These are the kind of picks that Atlanta has to avoid at all costs. They cannot try to fill the weakest area of their team in the last round of the draft.
Sam Baker showed in 2011 that he cannot be an elite left tackle, and the Falcons have to address that in the offseason. The 2012 NFL Draft will be a great place for the Falcons to, at the least, get some depth for their struggling unit.
One thing that always helps NFL teams is competition. Atlanta may be able to draft a young offensive lineman for depth, and let that light a fire under their current starters.
However the Falcons want to do it, they need to fix their offensive line in the draft this year, and that cannot be done in the late rounds. Atlanta has to draft a lineman in the early rounds of the 2012 draft.
This is an easy mistake to see, but the Atlanta Falcons have to stop trading away their draft picks.
The Falcons have not had a pick in every round of the draft since 2009. I am not saying that it was a mistake to take Julio Jones last year, but the Falcons were already at a disadvantage because of their draft picks.
In 2012, the Falcons have even less picks. Atlanta will be on the clock only five times in this draft, not including compensation picks that have yet to be awarded. The Falcons will have picks in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh round of the draft.
There are a lot of holes that the Falcons need to fill, and they only have five chances to do it in this draft. That problem could have been fixed by salvaging some picks in years past.
In 2012, the only way the Falcons should trade away picks is if they can find a way to gain some more by doing so.
It is obvious that the Atlanta Falcons focused primarily on the offensive side of the ball in last year's draft.
They traded almost everything away in order to get Julio Jones, and then they took Jacquizz Rodgers in the fifth round. Both of these picks are ones that helped the team in 2011, but were not absolutely necessary.
The Falcons could have gotten by just fine this past season without either of these players. I am not saying that these two guys will not help the Falcons because they already have.
However, the Falcons could have filled some major holes with these picks last year. Atlanta could have some defensive or offensive line help, as well as some more players in the secondary.
Atlanta seems to flip flop back and forth each year between picking for the offense and defense. In 2011, the Falcons went out and got top offensive playmakers, but in 2010 they spent four of their picks on defensive talent.
The Falcons are one of the luckier teams in the NFL in the sense that they have pretty good players on both sides of the ball.
With that being said, Atlanta can go into the 2012 NFL Draft ready to fill holes and draft solid depth, instead of getting the biggest names on one side of the ball.
In the 2011 NFL Draft, and other drafts, the Atlanta Falcons have chosen too many players that have not contributed to the team at all.
Last year, the Falcons chose Cliff Matthews and Andrew Jackson in the seventh and sixth round, respectively. However, Jackson is no longer on the Falcons' roster and Matthews did not record a single statistic in 2011.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Falcons need to make sure that they draft players that will do something for the team. Many NFL team often ends up picking players that do not make the opening-day roster, but the great teams find players deep in the draft that help their team become championship caliber.
The Falcons need to do just that in 2012.
It may seem like I do not like that the Atlanta Falcons drafted Julio Jones last year, but truthfully I think Jones is a great weapon for the Falcons. However, I believe the choice of Jones put the Falcons in a tough situation for future drafts.
In 2011, the Falcons put all of their money on Jones and seemed to believe that they did all they needed to in the offseason by bringing in this high-caliber wider receiver.
They brought in a couple more good draft picks, but for the most part it seemed that 2011 was Super Bowl or bust for the Falcons.
It ended up being a bust season for the Falcons, and they are now back at square one. The one thing that they cannot do in the 2012 NFL Draft is put all of their hopes on one player.
It will be much easier since their first pick does not come until the second round. The Falcons will need to draft players that can fill holes and do not have to come into the season with so much pressure.
Jones played well in 2011, but it was obvious that the Falcons were depending on him to be the next greatest receiver and he simply was not ready for that yet. Whoever it is that the Falcons get in this year's draft, they cannot come into the season as the savior.
The Falcons will have to avoid making this same mistake in 2012, and they should be able to do that fairly easily.