Will the Falcons get another Julio Jones type impact player?
The Falcons have quite a few needs this offseason. Going through the units with who is currently under contract:
Quarterbacks - Matt Ryan and John Parker Wilson
Matt Ryan is one of the top 10 Quarterbacks in the NFL today and is firmly entrenched as the franchise QB. John Parker Wilson is a solid QB but there is definitely a need for a backup.
Running Backs - Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers and Dmitri Nance
Michael Turner is still a Pro Bowl bruiser, but he has lost a step. Jacquizz Rodgers is the all-around back that will thrive in Dirk Koetter’s scheme and Nance is a guy who played for Koetter in college but has yet to make an NFL impact.
Fullbacks - Ovie Mughelli and Mike Cox
Mughelli is the Pro Bowl blocking FB, but he is coming off of a horrific knee injury and Mike Cox is a very solid blocking FB.
Wide Receivers - Roddy White, Julio Jones, Kerry Meier, Kevin Cone and Drew Davis
Roddy White is a top five WR in the NFL. Julio Jones is an explosive playmaker, but after those two the Falcons have the equivalent of practice squad scraps under contract.
Tight Ends - Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Winterswyk and Tommy Gallarda
Tony Gonzalez is the best TE of all time, but Winterswyk and Gallarda are both guys who will be career practice squad guys.
Offensive Tackles - Tyson Clabo, Will Svitek, Sam Baker and Kyle Jolly
Clabo is one of the top five RT’s in the NFL. Svitek is solid, but unspectacular at Left Tackle. Baker should be cut and Jolly is a practice squad caliber player.
Offensive Guards - Justin Blalock, Mike Johnson, Garrett Reynolds and Andrew Jackson
Blalock is a great pass blocking guard, but his run blocking needs work. Johnson has been injured quite a bit. Reynolds was just bad last year and needs to be moved back to a backup RT role and Jackson could be a dark horse starter for the Falcons with Pat Hill coming in to coach the line.
Centers - Joe Hawley, Corey Adams and Scott Albritton
Hawley performed admirably early in the year and would be better if given more time at center in the offseason. Adams and Albritton are practice squad guys.
Defensive Ends - Ray Edwards, Lawrence Sidbury and Cliff Matthews
Edwards is the starting Left End, and with a year of rehab on his knee, he should be back to the eight to 10 sack guy he was in Minnesota. Sidbury was a rotational guy, but has a lot of potential. Matthews is still a relative unknown.
Defensive Tackles - Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Peria Jerry
Babineaux is a Pro Bowl caliber starter and so is Peters. Jerry is a great fit for the rotational DT spot that Smith likes to use.
Outside Linebackers - Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas, Spencer Adkins, Robert James and Matt Hansen
Weatherspoon was a Pro Bowl snub and Nicholas is a very solid starter. Adkins was overmatched against the Giants in the playoffs. James and Hansen should both be cut.
Middle Linebackers - Akeem Dent
Dent is a good backup MLB and a great special teams guy.
Cornerbacks - Dunta Robinson, Dominique Franks, Chris Owens and Darrin Walls
Robinson is a solid starter, but he should be better under Mike Nolan. Franks has started to develop into a very good corner and could be a starter if Grimes leaves. Owens does well on the outside of the formations, but is a bad nickel corner. Walls is a special teams and dime corner type.
Safeties - William Moore, Shann Schillinger, Suaesi Tuimaunei
Moore is a dynamic player, Schillinger is a special teams ace and Suaesi is a camp body.
Specialists - K Matt Bryant and P/KOS Matt Bosher
Bryant is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL and Bosher finally turned it on at Punter at the end of the last season.
Orson Charles could be the Falcons' Aaron Hernandez
TE Orson Charles - 6’3” 241 lbs. - University of Georgia
It is safe to say the biggest need isn’t a tight end, but Charles is a very good receiving TE and would be a great fit as someone to learn from Tony Gonzalez for a year and then turn into the top TE on the team.
He’s very much an Aaron Hernandez clone in his catch and run ability, as well as his lack of in-line blocking ability. Then again, with Pat Hill adding more Zone Blocking schemes to the Falcons, Charles could be quick to pick up the blocking scheme.
Also, this would allow Atlanta to run a lot of two TE sets like the Patriots did, and give Ryan yet another weapon to go with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Zeitler could be a crusher on the interior of the line
OG Kevin Zeitler - 6’4” 320 - University of Wisconsin
The biggest need for Atlanta is on the line. Zeitler is a guard who can pull and has power, but would fit the zone principles of Pat Hill’s scheme very well. Zeitler also is an excellent pass blocker. If Zeitler wins a starting position, it will likely be on the left side, forcing Justin Blalock to the right guard slot and giving the right side a pair of top blockers once again.
This would make the Falcons offensive line a lot stronger on the interior. Zeitler also has the mean streak that Harvey Dahl has and can demolish people throughout the play without the remorse.
LT Jeff Allen - 6’5” 315 lbs. - University of Illinois
A four-year starter in college and team captain, Allen is a great fit for the Falcons offensive line. His main strength is pass blocking, and he has three years of experience starting every game at the left tackle spot in a scheme similar to what Pat Hill used at Fresno State.
Allen has quick feet and good punch in his pass blocking, but he is very raw when it comes to run blocking. His size and speed combination, to go along with his intelligence and leadership, is exactly what the Falcons need at the left tackle spot.
Brandon Bolden is an all around back
RB Brandon Bolden - 5’11” 221 - University of Mississippi
Michael Turner’s career is winding down. Atlanta should be looking for a running back in this year’s extraordinarily deep class of backs. Bolden is one of those guys that has the size, speed and hands.
Bolden had over 3,600 all-purpose yards in college and was a team captain. He’s versatile as both a blocker and receiver in the passing game and is a bruising runner when he is handed the ball.
He's an all-around back, and is a great fit for the Falcons new scheme that will give him the ball out in space so that he can make a play.
Could Winn be the Falcons version of Justin Tuck?
DE Billy Winn - 6’3” 295 - Boise State University
Billy Winn is one of the most underrated pass rushers in this year’s draft. He’s a good fit for a Justin Tuck-type role in the Falcons defense as he can play as a running down defensive end and a passing down Defensive Tackle.
Winn has the bulk and is quick off the line much like 2010 first rounder Tyson Alualu. Winn would allow more versatility with the Falcons defensive line as well since he could fit as a 3-technique 4-3 DT, 5-technique 3-4 DE and standard 7-technique 4-3 DE.