Atlanta Falcons 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
This is the season of misinformation. The Falcons and every other NFL team will throw out information to try to get other NFL teams off their scent. They throw out smokescreens, but will also try to put out the truth to try to confuse media, fans and other teams.
The Falcons have been attacking this concept with full vigor throughout Thomas Dimitroff's tenure as general manager. However, this year seems to be the most interesting. Follow along to find out what is fact and what is fiction regarding the Falcons news that is out there.
Falcons Need to Bring in Depth at Running Back
As you can see in the video above, the idea that the Falcons need a game-breaking running back to team with Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield is starting to spread. And it’s a great idea, especially with Rodgers in the final year of his rookie deal.
After losing Jason Snelling to retirement, the Falcons would be wise to try to upgrade the position with one of the talented home run threats in this year’s class. A couple names that instantly come to mind are Lache Seastrunk, Bishop Sankey and Dri Archer.
Archer is more of a true change-of-pace back. Seastrunk and Sankey are guys who can be bell-cow backs if the Falcons decide to use them as such in the future. However, as rookies, expect whoever Atlanta takes to be the third running back on the depth chart.
Falcons Need to Add a Wide Receiver with Development Potential
ESPN's Mark Dominik (subscription required) called wide receiver a hidden need for the Falcons. And he's not wrong at all. One thing he forgot to mention is that both Roddy White and Julio Jones are heading into the final year of their contracts.
Add in that Harry Douglas is a mediocre starting wide receiver, and this is a real need for Atlanta. Devin Hester may be signed for three seasons, but he’s not a starting wide receiver at this juncture either. The Falcons do have some luck here.
The wide receiver class for 2014 is the deepest it has been in almost a decade. With options that will go near the top of the fourth round like Bruce Ellington or even Allen Robinson, the Falcons could get a developmental, long-term option for their wide receiver need.
Offensive Tackle Is at the Top of Atlanta's List
As much as people try to make offensive tackle seem like the Falcons’ biggest need, it’s not a spot they are devoting a ton of attention to. The Falcons have re-signed Mike Johnson and brought in Gabe Carimi while also focusing on getting Sam Baker healthy and developing Lamar Holmes.
If Baker is healthy, then spending a high pick on an offensive tackle doesn’t make much sense at all, especially if the Falcons are confident in Holmes or Johnson as a potential right tackle starter. It would explain why the Falcons haven’t been focusing their attention on starting-caliber tackles.
In fact, when comparing the amount of tackles who are connected to Atlanta with the amount of edge-rushers, it’s almost a 3-1 ratio in favor of edge-rushing talents. Atlanta seems to be focusing more on adding a pass rush than focusing on a backup tackle.
Safety Is the Falcons' Biggest Need Right Now
After releasing Thomas DeCoud before free agency, the Falcons looked like they were going to be players in the Jairus Byrd sweepstakes. Sadly, Byrd wound up in New Orleans, and Atlanta signed Dwight Lowery after almost every other safety came off the market.
Unfortunately, they now have a huge hole at free safety, even if you factor in Lowery as a starter. The Falcons need to make sure they bring in someone who can cover and isn’t afraid to mix it up against the run. They have already been connected to Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward, Kyle Fuller and Deone Bucannon.
The best fit of the group is Bucannon. But the best fit in the entire draft is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Should the Alabama safety fall for any reason to the latter part of the first round, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Atlanta attempt to trade up for him, as their biggest need is definitely safety.
Trading Up for Clowney Would Be a Bad Idea
According to B/R NFC South lead writer Knox Bardeen, the Falcons would be crazy to trade up for Jadeveon Clowney because there’s still no depth on the team. I have to completely disagree with Bardeen on this one because of what the Falcons did this offseason already.
As I wrote earlier in the offseason, the Falcons can afford to trade up for Clowney if they so choose because of those offseason moves. It wouldn’t cripple a team that seemingly has only three starters that it needs to bring in this year at free safety, fullback and tight end.
And that’s if you believe Patrick DiMarco or Levine Toilolo aren't ready to start. The Falcons have depth all over the roster at this point, though. There is nothing crazy about going after a guy who could completely change the defense for the better and for the long term.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. 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 the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.