The Definitive Blueprint to the Atlanta Falcons' Perfect Offseason

Scott CarasikContributor IIJanuary 2, 2014

The Definitive Blueprint to the Atlanta Falcons' Perfect Offseason

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    Perfect would include Tony Gonzalez coming back...
    Perfect would include Tony Gonzalez coming back...Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Atlanta's 2013 season didn't go to plan. However, the Falcons aren't nearly as far off as their 4-12 record would suggest. The perfect offseason for Atlanta would fix both the offensive and defensive line while also bringing in some explosive weapons and playmakers on both sides of the ball.

    Follow along as we break down the Falcons' perfect offseason.

The Starting Point

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the 2014 salary cap is supposed to be $126.3 million. With the Falcons currently having $108.2 million dollars in total active cap commitments (salaries plus bonuses plus likely to be earned incentives), $4.9 million in dead cap space and $3.8 million in carry over cash, Atlanta should be right at $17 million under the cap.

    The Falcons currently have 48 players on their 2014 roster. They are as follows:

    Quarterbacks (3): Matt Ryan, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree

    Running Backs (5): Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, Josh Vaughan

    Fullbacks (2): Bradie Ewing, Patrick DiMarco

    Wide Receivers (4): Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Darius Johnson

    Tight Ends (2): Levine Toilolo, Adam Nissley

    Tackles (4): Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes, Ryan Schraeder, Terren Jones

    Guards (4): Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, Peter Konz, Harland Gunn

    Centers (0): None on roster currently

    Defensive Tackles (1): Travian Robertson

    Defensive Ends (6): Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga

    Linebackers (5): Stephen Nicholas, Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow

    Cornerbacks (4): Asante Samuel, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Saeed Lee

    Safeties (5): William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Zeke Motta, Kemal Ishmael, Sean Baker

    Specialists (3): Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris

     

    And the current free-agency situation is as follows:

    Unrestricted Free Agents: TE Chase Coffman, OT Sean Locklear, OT Mike Johnson, OT Jeremy Trueblood, C Joe Hawley, DT Jonathan Babineaux, DT Corey Peters, DT Peria Jerry, LB Omar Gaither, CB Dominique Franks

    Restricted Free Agents: CB Robert McClain

    Exclusive Rights Free Agents: WR Kevin Cone, WR Drew Davis, DT Adam Replogle

    Unrestricted free agents are free to negotiate with any team they want. Atlanta doesn't have any franchise- or transition-tag-worthy targets. 

    Restricted free agents have multiple qualifying offers that they can get. They are a first-round tender, a second-round tender and the "original round" or "right of first refusal" tender. The offers allow compensation returned to the player's original team in case they leave through free agency.

    Exclusive rights free agents are only allowed to negotiate with the teams they played for in the previous season. They only need to receive a qualifying offer of veteran minimum for one season. They are the easiest to retain.

The Coaching Changes

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Atlanta is being wise in keeping head coach Mike Smith, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. The Falcons also made prudent moves by firing offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton.

    They should also put the strength and conditioning staff on notice because the Falcons suffered way too many injuries in 2013. They should also see who is available from other staffs that would be upgrades on the current coaching situation.

    The first two names the come to mind would be adding Mike Singletary as a linebackers coach to team with Glenn Pires there and adding back Bill Musgrave as the quarterbacks coach. Also, targeting Raheem Morris as a defensive backs coach upgrade over Joe Danna wouldn't be a bad move.

    Atlanta should also look into Chuck Smith as a pass-rushing consultant. Having him work with the entire group of pass-rushers could only help. On top of these moves, they should sign a pair of offensive line coaches and a defensive line coach.

    Here are legitimate options for all of the positions:

     

    Offensive Line Coaches

    Mike Tice

    A former head coach and offensive coordinator as well as offensive line coach in the NFL, Mike Tice has been the head of multiple talented units. He would be a good fit in Atlanta, as he would bring more of an attitude than the line has.

     

    Rick Dennison

    Zone blocking would be beneficial for the Falcons offensive line, and Rick Dennison is a great zone-blocking mind. He also has been an excellent talent developer in Houston and has maximized the talents of multiple top-three-round picks.

     

    Tony Sparano

    One of the best offensive line coaches in the business is Tony Sparano. He's parlayed a great job as a position coach into a role as both a head coach and an offensive coordinator. If the Oakland staff gets fired, he should be one of the first calls Smith and Koetter make.

     

    Defensive Line Coaches

    Bill Kollar

    When running a multiple scheme, it's always a good idea to bring in someone who understands both the 3-4 and 4-3 defense. Bill Kollar has built great lines and developed great talent in both schemes, and Atlanta would be wise to bring him back.

     

    Kris Kocurek

    A former player who has been one of the underrated talents as a positional coach, Kris Kocurek has taken multiple top talents on Detroit's line and made sure they performed as such. He has earned a shot to be the main guy in charge of a defensive line.

     

    Personal preference here says to snap up Dennison and Kollar as the primary coaches for their position groups. They are the best of each spot listed, but any of the guys listed for each spot would be perfect for what the Falcons need on the coaching staff.

The Cuts

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    DE Osi Umenyiora

    Cap Savings: $3.5 Million in 2014, contract originally expired in 2014

    This is the toughest cut of the three. Umenyiora would be a great rotational defensive end to keep on the roster for 2014. However, if keeping him will hinder Massaquoi, Goodman or even a draft pick or free-agent pass-rusher, then he's not worth keeping. So in this situation, he's not worth keeping.

     

    LB Stephen Nicholas

    Cap Savings: $2.0 Million in 2014, $5.5 Million in 2015, contract originally expired in 2015

    Nicholas lost his job to Biermann. Then, he lost it to undrafted free agent Bartu. And sure, he had a great last few games of the season, but he isn't worth the $4 million cap hit it would cost to keep him in the 2014 season.

     

    CB Asante Samuel

    Cap Savings: $5.25 Million in 2014, contract originally expired in 2014

    Samuel was benched. That's the cold hard truth of the situation. And in getting benched, Samuel showed that he's expendable. And when you are expendable and can save $5.25 million, you are as good as cut. 

     

    The total cap savings from these three cuts would be $10.75 million. This would bring Atlanta's cap space to $27.75 million and the roster down to 45 players.

What to Do with Each Exclusive Rights Free Agent

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    WR Kevin Cone

    ERFA offer: 1 year, $570,000

    Re-signing Cone should be a given. A minimum salary for a guy who can play special teams and has been developing at wide receiver is always a good move. The former Yellow Jacket also has a great size-speed combination for the receiver position at 6'2.5", 216 pounds and 4.41 in the 40-yard dash.

     

    WR Drew Davis

    ERFA offer: 1 year, $570,000

    Davis is one of the best gunners in all of football. He and Antone Smith have shown that they are worthy of active roster spots every week based on their special teams ability alone. And much like Smith, Davis is able to contribute at an actual offensive position as well.

     

    DT Adam Replogle

    ERFA offer: 1 year, $495,000

    To bring in Replogle for camp would be the right thing to do. While he's not the most amazing defensive tackle Atlanta has brought in the past few years, he deserves a shot to compete for a job and at a minimum salary is more than worth it.

What to Do with Each Restricted Free Agent

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Robert McClain

    RFA offer: 1 year, $2.023 million (Second-Round Tender)

    Luckily, with just one restricted free agent, the choice is easy. McClain was a seventh-round pick in 2010, but he's shown much more value than that this year. The Falcons should just give him the second-round offer. If someone signs him, he'd be very easy to replace with a mid-level free agent.

Let These Guys Walk off into the Sunset/Don't Try to Re-Sign

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    OT Sean Locklear and OT Jeremy Trueblood

    The issues on the offensive line forced Atlanta to bring these two in. However, both are completely past their prime and not worth the roster spots they have. Atlanta should just let them go and move toward a much younger group.

     

    DT Peria Jerry

    When it comes to guys who need to leave the Falcons, Jerry tops the list. Not because he's overpaid or because he did something wrong, but he should leave due to his talent level not being worth an extension. The only way Jerry should be back is on a minimum salary benefit contract.

     

    DT Jonathan Babineaux

    This is a business move. While Babineaux coming back would be a great sentimental thing, the Falcons need to get better as a whole. Babineaux isn't the pass-rusher he once was. He also could be looking for way too much money for his current talent level. It's better to let someone leave a year early than a year late.

     

    LB Omar Gaither

    Atlanta brought him in out of desperation. The team should be better prepared for a situation where Weatherspoon goes down in 2014 with Worrilow, Bartu, Biermann and Dent all able to start for the Falcons. 

     

    CB Dominique Franks

    Atlanta can find someone better for depth than Franks. And Franks can find a role with a team that will give him a lot more playing time. He's still young at just 26 years old and could find a slot with a team as its nickel cornerback.

Re-Sign Target No. 1: DT Corey Peters

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Peters had a great season in 2013. He had a career-high 5.0 sacks, and on top of that, he had a career high in tackles with 46. Even more important than all of this is the fact that Peters was double-teamed on well over half of the snaps he played in 2013.

    Atlanta needs to retain him. Even though he did suffer an Achilles injury requiring surgery, the average recovery time for an injury like that looks to be between five to seven months. Peters should be ready in time for training camp at the absolute latest and may be able to participate in early parts of the offseason program.

    On top of that, Peters shouldn't be super expensive compared to some of the other defensive tackles on the market and is the kind of Falcon who would take a hometown discount to stay in Atlanta. However, the Falcons need to take care over their guy here.

    Peters deserves to have the security that a four-year contract would bring. His value is similar to what Babineaux's was in 2009 when he signed a five-year, $25 million deal. So Atlanta should give Peters a similar offer.

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $19 Million ($7.5 Million Guaranteed as Signing Bonus, Option Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $4.0 Million Signing Bonus

    $1.5 Million Second-Year Option Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Option Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$2,500,000.00 $1,000,000.00$0.00$3,500,000.00
    2015$3,500,000.00$1,000,000.00$500,000.00$5,000,000.00
    2016$3,500,000.00$1,000,000.00$500,000.00$5,000,000.00
    2017$5,000,000.00$1,000,000.00$500,000.00$6,500,000.00

Re-Sign Target No. 2: C Joe Hawley

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

    Hawley is an excellent center when he's given a legitimate shot at the job. He's shown that he's got the same kind of attitude that Todd McClure had when he was still playing. On top of that, he seems to be on the same page as Ryan when it comes to understanding protections.

    The nasty attitude needs to continue to rub off with the rest of the line. Hawley's also a good technician, but he does need to get a bit stronger. Also, protecting Hawley with some talent on both sides of him would be a good idea.

    Atlanta needs to make sure it has a competent right guard in 2014 to team with Hawley and Blalock on the interior. But bringing back Hawley should definitely be a priority for the Falcons in the 2014 offseason.

     

    Contract Structure

    3 Years, $7.5 Million ($3.25 Million Guaranteed, Including Signing Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $2.25 Million Signing Bonus

    Year SalarySigning Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit
    2014$1,000,000.00 $750,000.00$1,750,000.00 
    2015$1,750,000.00 $750,000.00$2,500,000.00
    2016$2,500,000.00 $750,000.00$3,250,000.00

Re-Sign Target No. 3: TE Chase Coffman

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Coffman deserves to come back to Atlanta on a "prove it" contract. A one-year deal for the minimum salary would be perfect for a guy who needs to show that he's worthy of a roster spot. The minimal bonus would be there to entice him to re-sign.

    Coffman showed in the 2013 preseason that he's solid depth at tight end behind a top-tier tight end and a solid in-line guy like Toilolo. However, for him to see any money past 2014, he's got to show that he's worthy of more investment.

     

    Contract Structure

    1 Years, $800,000 Total Cap Hit

    $70,000 Signing Bonus

    $730,000 Salary

Re-Sign Target No. 4: OL Mike Johnson

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Another "prove it" type deal should be in line here for Johnson. The contract structure is based off of Reynolds' current contract. Johnson showed that he could be a competent talent at both right guard and right tackle before he went down with injuries.

    So this would be his final chance. The Falcons wouldn't have to worry about Johnson missing the whole season again because this contract would allow them legitimate flexibility to cut him if need be. But if he shows that he can start at right guard or right tackle, then the Falcons will get more than their money's worth.

     

    Contract Structure

    2 Years, $2.9 Million

    $500,000 Signing Bonus

    Year SalarySigning Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Total Cap Hit
    2014$750,000.00 $250,000.00$100,000.00$1,100,000.00 
    2015$1,450,000.00 $250,000.00$100,000.00$1,800,000.00

Restructure and Extend Roddy White

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    White has gone on record saying that he wants to be a Falcon for life. And the Falcons should help him with this wish. Atlanta could easily keep the Falcons legend in red and black for the last three or four years of his career. 

    However, White would have to take a bit of a pay cut from where he's at. At this point in his career, he's not the same guy he once was. And paying over $7 million for a No. 2 wide receiver doesn't make sense in today's NFL.

    So White getting a contract with any sort of pay increase would be illogical. If he's willing to take a bit of a hometown discount, he could help Atlanta get the Super Bowl title that he's coveted since Ryan came to the team.

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $24.25 Million ($10.0 Million Guaranteed, Including Restructure Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $8.0 Million Restructure Bonus

    YearSalaryBonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$2,000,000.00$2,000,000.00$4,000,000.00
    2015$4,500,000.00$2,000,000.00$6,500,000.00
    2016$4,750,000.00$2,000,000.00$6,750,000.00
    2017$5,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00$7,000,000.00

Pre-Free-Agency Signing Update

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    How do you replace Tony Gonzalez?
    How do you replace Tony Gonzalez?Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Going into free agency, the Falcons would be $20.26 million under the cap in this situation. They'd also have 53 players on the roster. This means there's at least 37 spots the team has to fill in order to complete the 90-man training camp roster.

    Going into free agency, the Falcons would have three main spots they should target in free agency—tight end competition, offensive line competition and a nose tackle starter. With $20.26 million, the Falcons should go after one big name and two key role players who could start.

Unrestricted Role Player Signing: NT Linval Joseph

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    Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

    When it comes to the Falcons pass rush and run-stuffing abilities on defense, the interior defensive line was the biggest hole. It wasn't what Peters did in the 1-technique, but rather the 3-technique that had their failings. 

    However, when looking over the best values at defensive tackle this offseason, the Falcons should take a long, hard look at Linval Joseph. The massive 6'4", 328-pound 1-technique tackle would be perfect for the Falcons' multiple defensive schemes.

    He could play either the weak-side 1-technique in their base 4-3 packages or the strong-side 1-technique in the sub-package 3-4 style alignments. He's not just a fat body in the middle, either. Joseph has pass-rushing ability that would combine with his girth and abilities to take on double-teams.

    Joseph and Peters taking up the middle would allow Worrilow to see a lot fewer offensive linemen in his grill. With Joseph able to control a guard and center, and Peters able to control a tackle and guard, four of the five offensive linemen should be occupied in the run game.

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $21.0 Million ($9.5 Million Guaranteed as Signing Bonus, Option Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $6.0 Million Signing Bonus

    $1.5 Million Second-Year Option Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Option Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$2,000,000.00 $1,500,000.00$0.00$3,500,000.00
    2015$3,500,000.00$1,500,000.00$500,000.00$5,500,000.00
    2016$3,500,000.00$1,500,000.00$500,000.00$6,000,000.00
    2017$4,000,000.00$1,500,000.00$500,000.00$6,000,000.00

Unrestricted Role Player Signing: OT Anthony Collins

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    While teams normally don't let talented swing tackles like Anthony Collins leave, the Bengals may not want to overpay him for a role they don't think he would ever have. Atlanta, on the other hand, can afford to pay him as it still has Lamar Holmes on his rookie deal.

    Collins would be brought in as the top swing tackle and someone to compete for the starting role at both left and right tackle. Holmes, Johnson and Baker would also be the primary competition there. However, the idea behind competition is making sure the best possible players win the jobs.

    Atlanta needs to make sure it has Ryan protected, and by bringing in Collins, the Falcons will at least have someone who can provide the quality depth needed to play the blind side. They still would have a need on the interior of the offensive line, but the draft is uber-deep with talent on the interior offensive line.

     

    Contract Structure

    3 Years, $10.0 Million ($4.0 Million Guaranteed as Signing Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $3.0 Million Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 
    2015$2,750,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $3,750,000.00 
    2016$3,250,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $4,250,000.00 

Unrestricted Star Player Signing: TE Jimmy Graham

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Money talks. That's going to be the theme of this year's offseason for big names like Greg Hardy and Jimmy Graham. While the Saints don't want to lose the premier tight end, they are currently $8.722 million over the projected $126.3 million cap. 

    And while a release of Will Smith would bring them to around $3 million under the cap, that's not even close to what it would take to keep Graham. On the flip side, Atlanta could offer him quite a bit of cash throughout the life of his contract.

    And even more than that, he would be a perfect fit for the Falcons offense. While goal No. 1 should definitely be protecting Ryan, the ways to go about it should be to not just get better offensive linemen, but to make sure he also has his safety valve.

    Atlanta running an offense with Graham, Jones, White, Douglas, Jackson and Rodgers would be scary good. This move would also help the Falcons defense tremendously in division games against the Saints.

    Mainly because they wouldn't even have to worry about Graham in any way. The money in the deal is similar to what Rob Gronkowski got in his. Only it's structured so that the Falcons can absorb the biggest cap hits after 2015.

     

    Contract Structure

    6 Years, $48.0 Million ($20.5 Million Guaranteed as Signing Bonus, Option Bonus and First-Year Salary)

    $10.0 Million Signing Bonus

    $7.5 Million Option Bonus in Second Year

    YearSalarySigning Bonus ProrationOption Bonus ProrationTotal Cap Hit
    2014$3,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $0.00 $5,000,000.00 
    2015 $3,000,000.00$2,000,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $6,500,000.00 
    2016 $5,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $8,500,000.00 
    2017 $5,500,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $9,000,000.00 
    2018 $6,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $9,500,000.00 
    2019 $8,000,000.00 $0.00 $1,500,000.00 $9,500,000.00 

Pre-Draft Update and Compensatory Pick Projection

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Before the draft in this scenario, the Falcons would be $11.24 million underneath the cap with 56 players under contract. This is enough money to sign the draft picks and bring in some key undrafted free agents. Atlanta should get one compensatory pick in the draft. 

    Compensatory picks are done by evaluating the differences in qualifying free agents. Atlanta lost either two or three qualifying free agents and only signed two. The breakdown is as follows:

    • CB Brent Grimes signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal to qualify at fourth-round pick level. A Pro Bowl would bring him to the third-round level.
    • DT Vance Walker signed a one-year, $2.0 million deal to qualify at sixth-round pick level. 
    • CB Christopher Owens signed a one-year, $1.0 million deal that might qualify at seventh-round pick level.

    Overall, the Falcons lost one third-round level free agent, one sixth-round level free agent and one maybe seventh-round level free agent.

    On the flip side, Atlanta signed the following:

    • DE Umenyiora signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal to put him in the fourth- to fifth-round pick fringe level.
    • RB Jackson signed a three-year, $12.0 million deal to put him in the fourth- to fifth-round pick fringe level.

    The signings of Umenyiora and Jackson would cancel out the losses of Grimes and Walker. This means that Atlanta would get a seventh-round pick if Owens qualifies. However, even if Owens doesn't qualify, the Falcons should still get a net-value seventh-round pick.

    The additional seventh-round pick will give Atlanta eight picks in the seven rounds of the draft. The biggest needs are interior offensive line competition and depth, pass-rushers on the interior and at defensive end, and depth all over the team.

Round 1: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, 6'6", 276 Pounds

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    Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

    It's January. And a lot can happen between now and the NFL draft in May. However, one thing that makes a ton of sense is Jadeveon Clowney in an Atlanta Falcons uniform. For whatever reason, the Falcons look like they could have the beast fall to them, too.

    Houston needs a franchise quarterback. St. Louis looks like it needs a left tackle. Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland all need quarterbacks as well. This would leave Clowney there for the Falcons to take. Especially if those teams feel like the quarterback is the right move for their teams at the time.

    And it wouldn't be shocking to see a team reach for a quarterback. In a quick mock-up of how the top five picks could fall for Clowney to wind up in Atlanta:

    1. Houston Texans: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
    2. St. Louis Rams: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
    3. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
    4. Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
    5. Oakland Raiders: QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
    6. Atlanta Falcons: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    Clowney would be perfect for what Atlanta needs. He could easily play the role that John Abraham played in 2012 and would be the premier pass-rusher. Combine him with Goodman on base downs, and the Falcons would have an excellent run defense.

    Throw him out there with Massaquoi on passing downs, and the Falcons could be even better in pass rush than they were in 2012. This move would also allow Biermann to play linebacker full time and play at a lower weight so that he could put less pressure on his surgically repaired Achilles.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 11 Games Played, 40 Tackles, 11.5 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 9 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced,  4 Pass Deflections

    2012: 12 Games Played, 54 Tackles, 23.5 Tackles for Loss, 13.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 3 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumbles Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections

    2011: 13 Games Played, 36 Tackles, 12.0 Tackles for Loss, 8.0 Sacks, 6 QB Hurries, 5 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $16.431 Million (Entire Contract Guaranteed)

    $10.27 Million Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00$2,567,500.00$2,987,500.00
    2015$1,166,875.00$2,567,500.00$3,734,375.00
    2016
    $1,913,750.00$2,567,500.00$4,481,250.00
    2017$2,660,625.00 $2,567,500.00$5,228,125.00

Round 2: OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame, 6'4", 310 Pounds

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    After adding a ton of competition to the line by bringing in Collins and bringing back Hawley and Johnson, the Falcons should look to the draft for even more competition. And when it comes to the offensive line, the first part of the second round is ideal to get one of the top first-round talents remaining.

    Of those talents, Zack Martin stands out. Not only does he have a nasty streak to him that the line has been missing, he looks like he is able to play all five spots on the offensive line. If Hawley wins the job at center, having Martin at right guard would give Atlanta a pair of nasty, angry guys in the middle.

    It would also give the team a pair of guards that can both run block and pass protect. The Falcons would get a starting-caliber offensive lineman here in Martin in his first season. And worst-case scenario for him is that he has to sit as the sixth offensive lineman and can fill in for anyone in case of injury.

     

    Career Stats

    201313 Games Started at Left Tackle

    201213 Games Started at Left Tackle

    201113 Games Started at Left Tackle

    2010: 11 Games Started at Left Tackle, 2 Games Started at Right Tackle

    2009: Redshirted

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $5.339 Million ($2.202 Million Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $2.202 Million Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00$550,500.00$970,500.00
    2015$662,625.00$550,500.00$1,213,125.00
    2016
    $905,772.00$550,500.00$1,456,272.00
    2017$1,148,658.00 $550,500.00$1,699,158.00

Round 3: DT/DE Dominique Easley, Florida, 6'2", 280 Pounds

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Dominique Easley falling to the top of the third after suffering the second ACL injury of his career this year is very possible. Easley has great explosion and is very comparable to what Babineaux was in college. 

    That's to the Falcons' benefit because Easley has potential to be even better than Babineaux. Easley can also play multiple spots and roles on the defensive line. He can play in a 3-technique defensive tackle, 5-technique defensive end or even off-edge in a 6-technique defensive end role.

    The ability for him to play multiple techniques will allow the Falcons to play multiple formations and even have some two-gap abilities in their defense. Combining Easley, Peters, Clowney and Biermann as the primary pass-rushers, the Falcons could wind up with a deep, high-energy pass rush.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 3 Games Played, 5 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 4 QB Hurries

    2012: 12 Games Played, 26 Tackles, 8.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection

    2011: 12 Games Played, 37 Tackles, 7.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 3 QB Hurries, 1 Blocked Kick

    2010: 7 Games Played, 4 Tackles

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $3.095 Million ($690,832 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $690,832 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00$172,708.00$592,708.00
    2015$581,000.00$172,708.00$753,708.00
    2016
    $656,757.00$172,708.00$829,465.00
    2017$746,075.00 $172,708.00$918,783.00

Round 4: RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State, 5'11", 203 Pounds

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    While Kapri Bibbs is the best pure running back in the draft in my personal view, NFL teams may not agree with that assessment. However, he does everything that makes a great running back great. He's got excellent vision and understands how to hit the hole hard and fast.

    His biggest deficiencies come in pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. However, the Falcons could easily teach Bibbs how to perform those tasks in the offense. Bibbs would allow the Falcons to get rid of Vaughan in 2014 and Jackson to retire in 2015.

    This would continue the youth movement the team is undergoing. Also, Bibbs is an explosive talent who could score from anywhere. He doesn't exactly have any running back he's like in the NFL currently, but he's just a true talent at the position.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 14 Games Played, 281 Carries, 1,741 Yards, 31 Touchdowns, 8 Catches, 59 Yards

    2012: Played at Front Range Community College

    2011: Redshirted

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $2.704 Million ($484,424 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $484,424 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00 $121,106.00$541,106.00
    2015$510,000.00$121,106.00$631,106.00
    2016
    $600,000.00$121,106.00$721,106.00
    2017$690,000.00$121,106.00$811,106.00

Round 5: WR/RS Dri Archer, Kent State, 5'8", 175 Pounds

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Now about that explosion word. Dri Archer personifies that completely. It wouldn't be shocking to see him have the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine. He's able to take it to the house from anywhere on the field and can do it as a running back, receiver or returner.

    While Bibbs would make the running back side of Archer's game less important, the Falcons need someone who can learn how to play wide receiver and be that explosive complement to Jones out of the slot. 

    Archer may never be the starting wide receiver that the Falcons will need once White retires in a few years. However, he's still an extremely talented player, and the Falcons would be lucky to get him. Especially for his abilities in the return game that no current Falcon has.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 10 Games Played, 68 Carries, 527 Yards, 6 Touchdowns, 25 Catches, 327 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 2 Kick Returns, 128 Yards, 1 Touchdown

    2012: 14 Games Played, 159 Carries, 1,429 Yards, 16 Touchdowns, 39 Catches, 561 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 1 Punt Returns, -4 Yards, 17 Kick Returns, 591 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

    2011: Forced to sit out a year due to academic ineligibility

    2010: 12 Games Played, 40 Carries, 140 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 16 Catches, 75 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 5 Punt Returns, 12 Yards, 22 Kick Returns, 451 Yards

    2009: 11 Games Played, 58 Carries, 246 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 19 Catches, 231 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 11 Kick Returns, 266 Yards

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $2.427 Million ($206,900 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $206,900 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00 $51,725.00$471,725.00
    2015$510,000.00$51,725.00$561,725.00
    2016
    $600,000.00$51,725.00$651,725.00
    2017$690,000.00$51,725.00$741,725.00

Round 6: LB Boseko Lokombo, Oregon, 6'3", 229 Pounds

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Atlanta has three starting-caliber linebackers (Weatherspoon, Worrilow and Biermann) and two guys who would qualify as fringe starters (Bartu and Dent). However, adding some depth in the form of Boseko Lokombo would be wise.

    With both Weatherspoon and Biermann having known injury issues, the Falcons could use the additional depth behind them. Bartu is solid there, but if both outside linebackers go down again, Lokombo is a better coverage option than Dent is.

    He's shown that he can pass rush as well as play the run. And on top of getting after the quarterback, Lokombo is one guy in this draft who could legitimately man up with a tight end in coverage. That's one thing the Falcons defense has been sorely missing for years.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 13 Games Played, 63 Tackles, 7.0 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 7 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Pass Deflection

    2012: 13 Games Played, 39 Tackles, 4.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 2 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 4 Pass Deflections

    2011: 14 Games Played, 33 Tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 3 Pass Deflections, 2 Defensive Touchdowns

    2010: 13 Games Played, 36 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 Fumble Recovered, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown

    2009: Redshirted

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $2.338 Million ($117,932 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $117,932 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00 $29,483.00$449,483.00
    2015$510,000.00$29,483.00$539,483.00
    2016
    $600,000.00$29,483.00$629,483.00
    2017$690,000.00$29,483.00$719,483.00

Round 7: CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska, 6'3", 220 Pounds

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    When it comes to talented cornerbacks, Stanley Jean-Baptiste is one who could go much higher than this if a team like Seattle or Jacksonville falls in love with him. However, the Falcons need someone who is like Jean-Baptiste in their defense.

    They need that taller, longer cornerback who can cover bigger wide receivers and slot receivers effectively. They need someone who can team with Alford and Trufant who can hit like a linebacker, cover like a corner and play a nickel role that's similar to the Spur role in South Carolina's defense.

    That guy is Jean-Baptiste. If he falls this far, he would be a perfect complement to the 2013 draft class' corners. Atlanta could also use Jean-Baptiste as a designated tight end cover corner as well. Few guys who are 6'3", 220 pounds cover as well as SJB does.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 Games Played, 35 Tackles, 1.5 Tackles for Loss, 4 Interceptions, 11 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown

    2012: 14 Games Played, 24 Tackles, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Interceptions, 9 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown

    2011: 9 Games Played, 9 Tackles, 1 Interception, 1 Pass Deflection

    2010: Did not see game action

    2009: Redshirted at Fort Scott Community College

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $2.287 Million ($66,964 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $66,964 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00 $16,741.00$436,741.00
    2015$510,000.00$16,741.00$526,741.00
    2016
    $600,000.00$16,741.00$616,741.00
    2017$690,000.00$16,741.00$706,741.00

Round 7 (Compensatory): OL Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, 6'3", 298 Pounds

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    The focus of the draft should be on the offensive and defensive lines. And much like past Thomas Dimitroff drafts, the Falcons double-dipping with an early and a late pick at the same spot would be the right move here. 

    Not only can Gabe Ikard play center, he can play both guard spots. With every spot on the Falcons offensive line up for grabs in 2014, he would have to fight with Hawley at center and a multitude of guys at guard. However, Ikard could be a surprise winner for the job.

    He's got solid size and strength to play any of the interior three spots. Also, if the Falcons decide to bring in Dennison for offensive line coach, Ikard could be a better fit for a zone-blocking center and guard backup than Gunn would be.

     

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 Games Started at Center

    2012: 12 Games Started at Center

    2011: 7 Games Started at Center, 6 Games Started at Left Guard

    2010: 12 Games Started at Left Guard

    2009: Redshirted

     

    Contract Structure

    4 Years, $2.266 Million ($45,896 Guaranteed as Signing Bonus)

    $45,896 Signing Bonus

    Year Salary Signing Bonus Total Cap Hit 
    2014$420,000.00 $11,474.00$431,474.00
    2015$510,000.00$11,474.00$521,474.00
    2016
    $600,000.00$11,474.00$611,474.00
    2017$690,000.00$11,474.00$701,474.00

Filling Out the 90-Man Roster

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    Chase Thomas was an All-American player at Stanford in 2011.
    Chase Thomas was an All-American player at Stanford in 2011.Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

    After the draft is completed, the Falcons would have 64 players on the roster and would be $7.722 million under the cap. In order to fill the roster, they should sign some players to futures contracts and sign some undrafted free agents. 

    The most likely situation for futures contracts would be for Atlanta to sing the six current members of their practice squad—QB Seth Doege, wide receiver Dominique Croom, wide receiver James Rodgers, tight end Mickey Shuler, linebacker Chase Thomas and Cornerback Jordan Mabin.

    This would leave 20 spots for undrafted free agents. As far as who would be available and who the Falcons should bring in, there are too many people to name. Even in an ideal scenario, having just one of these undrafted free agents make the roster is a best-case scenario, so we'll say 20 unnamed undrafted free agents sign.

Final Recap

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    In the end, Atlanta would be $7.722 million under the cap with the entire group of 90 players signed. While this sounds like the Falcons would have cap just sitting there, they used around $3.5 million in cap this past season on injury replacements throughout the year.

    They did have some carry over, and best-case scenario, the Falcons are 100 percent healthy and never have to even worry about dipping into their reserves during the season and roll over the additional $7 million in cap space.

    This does look like a roster that could win a Super Bowl. They would need to make sure they stayed healthy and had improvement from key players like DeCoud and Baker.

     

    Camp Roster

    Only 70 names listed, as 20 undrafted free agents added to this would be tough to predict.

    Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree, Seth Doege

    Running Backs: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, Josh Vaughan, Kapri Bibbs

    Fullbacks: Bradie Ewing, Patrick DiMarco

    Wide Receivers: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Darius Johnson, Drew Davis, Kevin Cone, Dri Archer, James Rodgers, Dominique Croom

    Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham, Levine Toilolo, Chase Coffman, Adam Nissley, Mickey Shuler

    Offensive Linemen: Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes, Anthony Collins, Mike Johnson, Ryan Schraeder, Terren Jones, Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, Zack Martin, Peter Konz, Harland Gunn, Joe Hawley, Gabe Ikard

    Defensive Tackles: Corey Peters, Linval Joseph, Dominique Easley, Travian Robertson, Adam Replogle

    Defensive Ends: Jadeveon Clowney, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga

    Linebackers: Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Kroy Biermann, Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow, Boseko Lokombo, Chase Thomas

    Cornerbacks: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Robert McClain, Saeed Lee, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Jordan Mabin

    Safeties: William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Zeke Motta, Kemal Ishmael, Sean Baker

    Specialists: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

    Follow @ScottCarasik