The Atlanta Falcons have moved past January heartbreak and turned a hopeful eye to April. The 2013 NFL Draft presents an opportunity to improve the future and the present. The Falcons have the odd luxury of being a good team with well-defined holes to fill.
These obvious holes make it easier to hone in on perspective picks—not just what is a position of need, but what kind of player is needed to fill it.
Atlanta Falcons' Biggest Needs
Replacing players that are retiring or near retirement is always a great place to start when eying draft prospects. Tight end Tony Gonzalez and center Todd McClure may or may not return for one final year. Either way, the Falcons must begin filling those giant shoes. Tight end will a be a priority in the draft. McClure's replacement is most likely be replaced by Peter Konz. This will leave an opening at right guard.
Defensive end has long been a need for the Falcons. John Abraham is getting older, but still a viable starter. Kroy Biermann is better than serviceable, but a lack of killer instinct seems to prevent him from taking his game to the next level. The Falcons need a quarterback assassin to compliment and eventually replace Abraham.
Some needs are obvious game in and game out. Upgrading the offensive and defensive line with bigger, better players makes sense for most teams. The Falcons have plenty of bodies under contract, so they can focus in on value when restocking here.
Some needs only become apparent when teams exploit a weakness. The playoffs should be eye-opening for the Falcons. With mobile quarterbacks and athletic tight ends becoming a common weakness, the Falcons must acquire a more versatile outside linebacker. Sean Weatherspoon is phenomenal, but cannot do it on his own. The Falcons need a speedy ball hawk to solidify the defensive coverage.
Finally, the Falcons need a short-yardage running back. With Michael Turners' future in limbo, it might seem like the Falcons should be looking for the starter of the future. Jacquizz Rodgers is most likely that starter. What the Falcons truly need is a runner who can turn 3rd-and-1 into a first down.
Here are some prospects that could fill these needs in the 2013 NFL Draft.