2014 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters for the Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons need to have some guys in later rounds who can create an impact for them like they did in 2013. Atlanta had two undrafted and three drafted rookie starters by the time the season ended. In 2014, they have to fill holes along both lines.
However, they should also look for some guys who can create an impact at tight end, running back and even safety. Because this year's draft is ridiculously deep, we'll focus more on players who should be available in the second and third days of the draft.
RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State, 5'11", 203 Pounds
Steven Jackson was the Falcons' leading rusher in 2013. However, the majority of his 543 yards came in the last six games of the year. Atlanta needs a back who can break a big play at any time while still being able to give them a productive running game without that big play.
That guy is Kapri Bibbs. He's got first-round-level talent but will likely go in the middle of the third day. He's got breakaway speed to take one to the house from anywhere. On top of that, he's got great vision and agility to make an impact on regular runs.
He also understands how to fall forward and never quit. His running style is similar to a younger Fred Taylor in that he can weave through the traffic and bust a long run. Or he can run you over and bust a long run. His biggest weaknesses come as a receiver, but that can always be worked on.
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech, 6'5", 260 Pounds
Replacing Tony Gonzalez will be tough for the Falcons offense. However, when looking to replace his actual output, the Falcons don't need to look specifically for a guy who is already a great blocker. They need to look into someone who is a dynamic receiving threat.
Jace Amaro is definitely that kind of threat. The 6'5" tight end can go up and snatch any ball in the air. In the video above, Matt Miller perfectly compares him to Jordan Cameron. The Red Raider will be a perfect fit in the Falcons offense as someone who could stretch the seams in the middle of the field.
Ideally, Amaro will be there for the Falcons' second-round selection. If they can address the starting defensive tackle spots that are currently empty, add a premier edge-rusher and address right guard before the selection, Amaro would be a great addition to Atlanta's offense.
OL David Yankey, Stanford, 6'5", 313 Pounds
Atlanta has multiple holes on the offensive line. If the Falcons truly believe that Sam Baker is the answer at left tackle and give Lamar Holmes a fair chance by keeping him at right tackle, then the biggest hole on the line is at right guard.
When it comes to guys who could instantly start there, David Yankey is an Atlanta native who compares favorably to the best guard in the NFL—Evan Mathis of the Philadelphia Eagles. His athleticism and poise as a pass-blocker would be a tremendous upgrade over what Peter Konz and Garrett Reynolds provided.
As a run-blocker, he'd be able to generate push that no current Atlanta Falcon has delivered. Even more than that, he's got the attitude and aggression needed at the position. Atlanta would probably have to take him at the top of the second, but he'll be a longtime starter like Justin Blalock has been.
DT Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State, 6'2", 330 Pounds
Defensive tackle is only a hole right now because of contract situations. The only two current Falcons under contract are 2012 seventh-round pick Travian Robertson and 2013 undrafted free agent and practice squad member Adam Replogle.
So they need a lot of help. Ideally, they re-sign Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux. However, they still need someone who can start in case Peters is hurt early in the year. That's where Ryan Carrethers comes in. As a 6'2", 330-pound defensive tackle, he's ideal for the 1-technique role in Atlanta's defense.
He can take on doubles in both pass-rushing and run defense. This would allow the linebackers to roam free in the run game and allow the 3-techniques to face more single teams in pass rush. Carrethers could be another late-round steal at defensive tackle in the same way Vance Walker was.
DL Jay Bromley, Syracuse, 6'4", 285 Pounds
Speaking of 3-technique defensive tackles, the Falcons need to look heavily into Jay Bromley. While some defensive tackles have just one or two spots they can play effectively, Bromley has shown talent as a 3-technique under tackle, a 1-technique nose tackle or even a 5-technique defensive end in 3-4 sets.
The Falcons would love his ability to line up pretty much anywhere in their multiple sets. He's a taller, longer version of Jonathan Babineaux coming out of college. Ideally, the Falcons will have Babineaux to teach him how to play early on in his career.
If they decide to let Babineaux walk, Bromley would be first in line should the Falcons select him. Considering his value is in the early fourth round, the Falcons could get him there and wind up with their long-term replacement for Babineaux for cheap.
S Craig Loston, LSU, 6'2", 209 Pounds
Atlanta needs a great safety to usurp Thomas DeCoud's starting role from him. DeCoud has had a bad tendency of missing tackles and, in 2013, forgetting how to make plays on the ball. So they need to find someone who can actually make tackles and start intercepting and deflecting passes.
LSU has been putting out great athletes in the defensive backfield for years. Their own Craig Loston is the ideal player to replace DeCoud. He's played both free safety and strong safety for the Tigers and is known as both a ball hawk and a hard hitter.
The issues in his game come down to how raw he is. But with good teachers in the secondary like Tim Lewis and Joe Danna, Loston should be able to succeed in Atlanta. The Falcons would probably have to take him with their third- or fourth-round pick, but he'd be an instant upgrade over DeCoud.
DE/LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech, 6'3", 242 Pounds
Kroy Biermann is coming off of an Achilles injury, and Joplo Bartu is better suited for the weak side of the defense rather than the strong side. So the Falcons need to bring someone in who could upgrade the strong-side linebacker role. While they are at it, adding a dynamic pass-rusher would help as well.
Jeremiah Attaochu would have to be taken in the top of the second round, but he'd be an ideal fit for the Falcons in Biermann's role. He's a natural pass-rusher who can also create plays in the run game. If the Falcons do wind up signing a premier edge-rusher in free agency, they would need a good complement.
Attaochu is unique in that he just turned 21 this year and is already a college graduate with four years of ACC experience under his belt. He's also been a captain and would be an ideal player for the Falcons locker room. The Georgia Tech product could be the rookie leader in sacks when all is said and done.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.