Round 1, Pick 6 (6th Overall) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews is a perfect fit for the Falcons for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Matthews fills an area of great need for the team. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times last season, and Matthews needs to help fix that.
Another thing that makes Matthews great for Atlanta is the fact that he’s ready to play in the NFL right now. He’ll be the Week 1 starter at right tackle and could move over to the left side in 2015.
Round 2, Pick 5 (37th Overall) – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, Minnesota
The fact that Hageman was still available in the second round when the Falcons were picking is truly amazing. Hageman plays mean, can move all around on the defensive line and can help both stop the run and rush the quarterback.
The Falcons will immediately move Hageman from the inside to a 5-technique and use his pass-rush skills against an offensive tackle or tight end.
Round 5, Pick 7 (147th Overall) – Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
The Falcons were pretty set at the cornerback position with Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Robert McClain anchoring the team’s defensive backfield. But the NFC South (outside of the Falcons) teams all added first-round wide receivers, and Atlanta adding some depth at cornerback to combat that seems like a sound maneuver.
Round 5, Pick 28 (168th Overall) – Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse
The Falcons have missed recently with middle linebacker picks, or have been forced to use undrafted rookies when injuries happened because of lack of depth. Adding Spruill here helps with depth, and with his ability to help on special teams, added to his intangibles (vocal leader, always-on motor), Spruill could eventually see snaps on defense too.
Round 7, Pick 38 (253rd Overall) – Yawin Smallwood, OLB, Connecticut
Any middle linebacker that’s a seventh-round pick that has plus coverage skills should be revered. Smallwood can also fight his way through traffic and is the kind of linebacker that can make tackles anywhere on the field.
Round 7, Pick 40 (255th Overall) – Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
The Falcons need a ton of help rushing the passer. Starr produced 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks for South Dakota last season and will be welcomed into camp to fight for a spot. If he can get to the quarterback at the professional level like he did in college, this seventh-round pick will make the team.