The Atlanta Falcons are still dealing with the heartbreak of the NFC Championship loss to the 49ers. However, they need to make some picks in the draft that will allow the Falcons to take the next step.
The Falcons have quite a few needs despite being one of the better teams in the NFL this past season. For the Falcons to take the next step into being a Super Bowl Champion, they will have to fix the following:
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez retiring will leave a huge hole in the offense. As of now, the Falcons and Chiefs legend looks like he won't be back, so expect Atlanta to take someone to fill the void. If he does come back, Atlanta should still take an apprentice to learn from him for a season.
Defensive End: Atlanta's biggest problem all season was pass rush. With another edge-rusher, Mike Nolan will be able to open his defense up and actually have multiple blitzing schemes designed around more than just John Abraham.
Running Back: Michael Turner was obviously on his last legs during the season and didn't perform well until the playoffs. However, with his $5.5 million salary, it's likely his last snap for Atlanta has been played and the Falcons need someone to replace him.
Linebacker who can cover tight ends: Atlanta's biggest reason as to why it could not stop the offenses of Seattle and San Francisco in the playoffs was the lack of a linebacker who could man up on tight ends. Adding one of these—even if he is just a specialist for certain situations—is needed.
Defensive Tackle: Atlanta has some solid players at defensive tackle like Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Travian Robertson. However, a big body could be helpful and the Falcons need to try and re-sign Vance Walker this offseason.
Reserve Wide Receiver: The Falcons need someone who can surprise as the No. 4 wide receiver and provide something that Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Roddy White can't. That is tough to find, and Atlanta could look to free agency and the late rounds to find a pair of players to compete.
Return Specialist: Atlanta didn't have terrible returners in 2012. It could, however, use a game-changer who could take one to the house at any time.
Offensive Lineman: There's never enough quality depth. Atlanta could be best served going with a free agent here, though, as the Falcons line needs more of an immediate contributor than someone who will take time to develop.