Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the update Wednesday:
The Falcons are coming off a disappointing 7-9 season in 2019. Being caught in the middle—not good enough to make the playoffs, but recording too many wins to secure a high draft pick—is often the worst residence for professional sports teams.
That's especially true for an organization like Atlanta, which should be in the midst of a championship window with a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan and an elite playmaker in wide receiver Julio Jones. They added running back Todd Gurley in free agency to further bolster the offense.
The Falcons' most glaring needs are on the defensive side. Most notably, they could use another premier edge-rusher and need to fill holes at cornerback and defensive tackle.
Dimitroff discussed the team's approach heading into the draft last week:
"We do believe, definitely, it is need and fit, that's important for us. Best player on the board works into it, if you have two or three positions that you do need. Hopefully, you're going to go with the best player at that position, unless there is a completely disjointed set up. Meaning, if we needed a position exponentially more than another position, and we weren't going to go with the best player at another position."
If the front office is exploring a trade up from No. 16, it's most likely going to target one of the draft's top edge players.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Ohio State's Chase Young (No. 1 overall prospect), LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson (No. 9) and Penn State's Yetur Gross-Matos (No. 21) as the top edge-rushers on his latest big board in a draft limited on elite prospects at the key position.
A trade up for Chaisson, who recorded 60 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two passes defended and a forced fumble in 13 appearances for the Tigers last season, could make sense.
Moving from No. 16 to No. 9 would cost Atlanta 350 points on the Pro Football Reference value chart for draft picks. That's the equivalent of a late second-round pick or a pair of third-round selections.
That's a reasonable price to pay if the Falcons believe Chaisson, or another prospect they're targeting, can significantly help a defense that ranked 23rd in points allowed and 29th in sacks last season.