Sure, it may only be December, but it's never too early to talk NFL draft. ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr. are already having at it, so as far as we're concerned, the groundhog has seen the shadow.
The Atlanta Falcons won't have any premier picks thanks to a season that will put them with a pick of at least 28th or higher in each round.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff definitely has a rich group of guys in Flowery Branch, but that isn't to say there isn't room for improvement on this team.
In fact, Atlanta has a lot of areas of concern, especially on the offensive line and running back position. A more threatening ground attack has been something fans have begged for for the past few seasons.
Atlanta doesn't need much help with defensive personnel, so expect an offensive draft for Atlanta this year. Here's an early look at some guys the Falcons could go after.
The Atlanta Falcons will need a replacement for center Todd McClure. While the "Mud Duck" has had a stellar season, it's probably his last.
That replacement will probably be Peter Konz, who Atlanta drafted out of Wisconsin last year. Konz already saw unexpected playing time this season at guard and will likely transition to center for next year.
That leaves an area of space to be filled at guard. Enter Chance Warmack from Alabama. The 6'2", 320-pound beast might have been a tad unheralded in Tuscaloosa thanks to the presence of Barrett Jones.
Warmack has great feet for his size and should be a great addition to the Falcons roster. We all saw in the SEC title game what he can do when it comes to pushing a pile.
Atlanta desperately needs an offensive line that can create running lanes.
The next step is giving the Falcons more options at tailback.
Jacquizz Rogers is a really nice option at tailback, but many argue he's not set to be a starter.
Andre Ellington isn't the biggest man in the world, but he's a complete tailback with homerun ability. When he's been healthy, he's been a force for the Clemson offense and has consistently made those "wow" plays.
As Atlanta's offense continues to evolve under Dirk Koetter, it desperately needs a back that can fit the mold. Michael Turner doesn't fit in this offense anymore.
Atlanta's next veteran it needs to replace is tight end Tony Gonzalez.
No player will be able to completely replace the great one, but Atlanta doesn't currently have a marquee tight end. If the Falcons want offensive production that rivals what it has gotten in the past few seasons with Gonzo at the helm, they will need a tight end with big-time playmaking ability.
Jordan Reed, at 6'3" and 240 lbs., has reminded some of a former Gator, Aaron Hernandez, who has done pretty well in New England.
Reed is an athletic tight end. He even played quarterback at one point for Florida.
Atlanta's next option at tailback?
How about a 6'2", 240-pound bruiser in Le'Veon Bell.
Bell is projected to fall around the fourth round if he leaves for the draft and is one of the bigger backs in the draft class.
Ellington will add much needed explosion, but if Atlanta wants to go the smash-mouth route, there's no better guy to take here than the former Spartan.
Bell, Ellington, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Michael Turner would make for a great tailback competition in Atlanta.
Honestly, that is what the Falcons need.
Florida's Xavier Nixon will be a nice mid-rounder for the Falcons.
At 6'5", 314 lbs., he's got plenty of size for an athletic guy.
Atlanta needs more depth on the offensive line and will see a shuffle of sorts when Konz moves positions.
It will be nice to have this guy to create more competition on the offensive line. He helped Florida to a pretty good running attack this year.
Devin Taylor would be a nice project player.
While John Abraham has seen a resurgence this year, the Falcons need to add depth to the offensive line. Taylor was one of the highest recruited defensive stars in the nation coming out of high school and has been shadowed at South Carolina thanks to the presence of Jadeveon Clowney.
At 6'7", Taylor is a guy that can potentially make life miserable for quarterbacks. Atlanta could be missing with this pick, but it could also get a freak that can wreak havoc at the line much like J.J. Watt can.
It's worth a shot.
The 6'4", 305-pounder will add even more depth to the offensive line for training camp. The more, the merrier.
If Atlanta can get some serious depth and competition at offensive line and tailback, the running game could churn up in 2012.