Atlanta Falcons Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
After selecting Jake Matthews to be a franchise offensive tackle, the Atlanta Falcons still have quite a bit of work to do before they should feel comfortable with their roster. It all starts up front, and addressing more defensive line needs would be the right way to start.
Adding in a tight end would also help. They could end up making some trades to address big needs on the roster as well. Atlanta does need to make sure it continues its smart, yet unsexy draft, as that's the kind of football it will need to play to win games in 2014.
Day 1 Recap and Analysis
The Atlanta Falcons made the right move staying where they were at No. 6 and drafting a future franchise left tackle in Matthews. While the big storyline leading up to the draft was Atlanta trading up to get either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, everything worked out for the best in the end.
Matthews will be the perfect Falcon on and off the field. He'll also allow Atlanta to protect Matt Ryan in the way Ryan deserves to be protected. Lamar Holmes and Mike Johnson will stay backups for the year and, barring injury to either Sam Baker or Matthews, should see very little playing time.
Updated Needs for the Atlanta Falcons
Pass-Rushing Edge Player
The Falcons' biggest need is a starting edge player to work across from Jonathan Massaquoi when Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora retire. They need someone who can line up at either end or linebacker depending on the scheme and pass rush from anywhere.
Coverage is the name of the game with the wide receivers in the NFC South. And adding a free safety to the Falcons defense is imperative. The problem is that there aren't many good free safeties remaining in this year's draft.
Tony Gonzalez retiring doesn't help this at all. The Falcons do seem to like Levine Toilolo based on comments from this press conference with Ryan. Adding a No. 2 who can end up playing either in-line or spread out wide would be a great move.
Steven Jackson is winding down in his career. Jacquizz Rodgers is in the final year of his contract. Jason Snelling retired, and Antone Smith is nothing but special teams. Atlanta needs to bring in a future guy who can at least be a good change-of-pace back.
Roddy White is entering the final year of his contract and could wind up playing elsewhere after 2014. Julio Jones has a huge contract coming up, and signing White long term doesn't make sense. Harry Douglas is 29, and Devin Hester is 31. Both are mediocre wide receivers.
Top Day 2 Targets
1. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Jace Amaro is a guy who would fit the Falcons' schemes at tight end because he played primarily in the slot in college. Gonzalez also played in the slot a lot last year for the Falcons. Amaro could duplicate Gonzalez early on while he learned how to block.
2. Jeremiah Attaochu, EP, Georgia Tech
Jeremiah Attaochu is a versatile pass-rusher who is everything the Falcons want off the field. Bringing him in would mean that the Falcons understand how to pick out pass-rushing talent and could use him as an attacking talent across from Massaquoi.
3. Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
Atlanta bringing in a ton of defensive tackles and defensive ends was nice. However, it could really use a guy who's dynamic across the front line. Ra'Shede Hageman can play any technique from 1 through 5 and would instantly provide great depth in both three- and four-man fronts.
4. DeMarcus Lawrence, EP, Boise State
DeMarcus Lawrence has some baggage to him with multiple suspensions at Boise State for violations of team rules. However, the Falcons have been linked to him a lot lately and could end up taking him as a starting option at edge player.
5. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Matthews' cousin, Troy Niklas, could be a legitimate option for Atlanta at tight end. He's very raw as a pass-catcher but is one of the best blockers in the nation. His exceptional size allows him to be a tough option to cover in the passing game. If he can get it together as a receiver, he could be special.
What Are the Experts Saying?
The Falcons wrapped up the first day just taking one guy in Matthews. You can find what Matt Miller and Bleacher Report's draft experts said about it in the above video. In searching for a final mock draft with multiple rounds, there was only Miller's to choose from. So we're going to examine his second- and third-round picks located here.
2 37 Atlanta Falcons: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Falcons have already addressed offensive tackle with their first-round pick. However, in Miller's scenario, they wound up with Khalil Mack in the first round. Sadly, that wasn't going to happen. Instead, they took Matthews.
The pick of Cyrus Kouandjio would be a great fit for Atlanta had it not taken Matthews. However, the Falcons going with a defensive end or outside linebacker at this point would be the right move for their defense. The best fit here is easily Attaochu.
3 68 Atlanta Falcons: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
While this still makes some sense, it would be tough to see the Falcons reach for a running back this early. Charles Sims is a good fit in the fourth round. Atlanta should be focusing on safety with this pick or possibly even going with a tight end like Niklas if he slips.
4 Predictions for Day 2
After not trading on the first day, the Falcons will trade up in the second day.
Whether it's up into the second round or up into the third round, it wouldn't shock me to see Atlanta trade up. The Falcons tried to trade up into the first round Thursday for either Dee Ford or Ryan Shazier and failed to do so, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They won't have bad luck like that on the second day.
#Falcons were trying to trade back into the first round for either Ryan Shazier or Dee Ford. Tomorrow, plenty of DEs and SS— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) May 9, 2014
Atlanta will address pass-rusher.
The Falcons' biggest need is by far pass-rusher. With them trying to trade up for either Ford or Shazier, it shows that an edge-rusher is a key need for the Falcons to address. They will need to make sure they bring in the right fit for their team, though.
Atlanta will stick to the Comrade Filter.
After all the talk of Taylor Lewan, the Falcons went with the squeaky-clean Matthews instead when given the chance. Unless the player just presents spectacular value, it's tough to see them going with any sort of player who's been either arrested or suspended.
The Falcons will try to trade for Eric Berry of the Chiefs.
Safety is at the top of the list of needs for the Falcons. Eric Berry is the best safety the Falcons could possibly get for their second-round pick. Atlanta would be wise to go after him. If it can get him for just its second, it should do it.
Updated Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft
Round 2, Pick 37: DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Atlanta needs the ideal pass-rusher for Mike Nolan's scheme. While I personally love Attaochu, he's looked at as a developmental prospect by a lot of analysts. The 21-year-old from Georgia Tech embodies everything in the Comrade Filter for the Falcons.
Attaochu would be able to sit behind Umenyiora and Biermann in the 2014 season and develop his skills. After that season, he could turn into one of the best pass-rushers in the league across from Massaquoi in the Falcons' scheme.
Round 3, Pick 68: TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Niklas would be a perfect fit for the Falcons' need at tight end. He can line up anywhere, and his strength is as a blocker. Off the field, he moved from linebacker to tight end because it would help the team the most and was a leader for the Fighting Irish.
Round 4, Pick 103: RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
With Jackson getting up there in age and Snelling retiring, the Falcons could use a potential long-term starter. Lache Seastrunk is a home run hitter who could end up being the long-term solution as a change-of-pace back.
Round 4, Pick 139: NT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
Bringing in someone to spell new Falcons nose tackle Paul Soliai would be wise since he won't be able to play all 1,000 snaps in a season. Big nose tackles never are. Daniel McCullers is a big body who isn't the most technical, but he is similar to Soliai in a lot of ways as a tall, oversized nose tackle.
Round 5, Pick 147: S Daniel Sorensen, BYU
This is one of the draft sleepers. Daniel Sorensen could be an instant starter and upgrade over Thomas DeCoud's lack of 2013 production. Sorensen has great athleticism and was one of their captains over Kyle Van Noy in 2013.
Round 6, Pick 182: LB Boseko Lokombo, Oregon
Atlanta could always use more depth at linebacker. Boseko Lokombo can play anywhere inside or outside for the Falcons in either the 3-4 or the 4-3 scheme. He'll likely never be anything more than depth or special teams for Atlanta, but that's all it needs.
Round 7, Pick 220: FB Chad Abram, Florida State
It's probably never the best idea to draft a fullback. However, Chad Abram is a great fullback and would be an instant starter for Atlanta. He could be the lead blocker the Falcons wanted when they drafted Bradie Ewing back in 2012.
Round 7, Pick 253: WR Cody Hoffman, BYU
Cody Hoffman may not be the ideal fit off the field with some issues there. He is a good fit on the field though, as he can play both outside and in the slot. The Falcons would be able to bring him along slowly and let him develop before throwing him to the wolves.
Round 7, Pick 255: QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Atlanta could really use an improvement at backup quarterback. Dominique Davis and Sean Renfree don't strike fear into anyone. Connor Shaw was always underrated at South Carolina and is from Flowery Branch. Bringing in the hometown guy would be wise.
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.