The Falcons went from a 13-3 division champion that played in the NFC Championship Game in 2012 to a 4-12 disappointment in 2013. Wide-scale injuries played a part in the reversal of fortune, but that was only part of the story.
Atlanta had trouble stopping the run, rushing the passer, protecting quarterback Matt Ryan, running the football and had some issues with depth, all of which need to be addressed in the offseason.
Through free agency the Falcons signed defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson to help against the run and added Jon Asamoah to help open holes for the running game. Several others came on for depth. But Atlanta isn’t done.
For the Falcons to make it back to the playoffs, general manager Thomas Dimitroff needs to win the 2014 draft.
Atlanta owns the sixth overall pick in the draft, and with three compensatory picks has 10 picks this year. Because I’m a man of the people, I asked Falcons fans to provide me with the first five picks in the draft for this mock. Here was one of the first suggestions:
@knoxbardeen Clowney - Matthews - Mack - Bortles - Robinson.— Matt (@FalconsM5) Apr il 17, 2014
These first five picks in the draft provided me with what might be considered a worst-case scenario for Atlanta. Four of the first five picks were used on what are the two biggest areas of need (offensive tackle and a pass-rusher) for the Falcons. I set a rule for myself with this first mock draft that I wouldn’t trade up or back in the draft; I’d keep the same 10 picks the Falcons inherited.
Had I not made that rule, the obvious move for the Falcons when two tackles and two pass-rushers were taken in the first five picks would be to trade back and pick up some more draft selections (I’ll address that scenario later in a few more mock drafts as May 8 approaches).
But for today, here’s what Atlanta’s draft might look like with zero trades and many of the team’s area-of-need selections pried from the draft board right before the No. 6 pick.