Everyone seems to have an opinion as to what the Falcons should prioritize this offseason. From drafting a would-be franchise quarterback, to picking another edge rusher for the third time since 2015, the options are endless.
Through it all, though, three positions remain as a consistent hindrance to the Falcons’ ability to compete. Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus identified each team’s biggest positional needs after the first major wave of free agency. His biggest areas of need for the Falcons are cornerback, edge rusher and safety.
Treash details the team’s poor cap space and their inability to partner up second-year corner A.J. Terrell with a formidable veteran.
“It’s reasonable to say that Atlanta’s secondary was a liability last season — they ranked fifth-to-last among the 32 secondaries in coverage grade and gave up more 20-plus-yard pass plays than any other group in the league. And given their dire cap situation, the team could do nothing to fix that in free agency.
Atlanta will need to attack the secondary aggressively in the 2021 NFL Draft and hope that A.J. Terrell, who posted a 57.0 coverage grade and allowed 901 yards and five touchdowns in 2020, takes the second-year leap in 2021.”
With a full offseason and a better defensive coordinator, Terrell is expected to make the second-year jump and could bode much better if paired up with another standout option. Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain could both be viable options for the Falcons to consider. This doesn’t solve the team’s problem getting after the quarterback, though.
Dante Fowler, who the Falcons brought in to fix this issue in 2020, took a pay cut for the 2021 season and can earn up to $4 million in incentives if he gets 11 or more sacks this year. Jacob Tuioti-mariner was also re-signed to another Falcons contract through the 2021 season.
While it’s unlikely the Falcons bring in a free agent that could become a game-changer on the defensive line, they could look to address this position in the second round of the draft, or if they trade down in the first round. What works against Atlanta in this draft is the lack of top-tier talent on the edge. There isn’t a pass-rushing prospect worthy of being taken at No. 4 overall.
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