Evan Silva

Draft Analysis

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NFL Draft Needs: Falcons

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

 

No. 1 Team Need: Defensive End


Silva's analysis


The Falcons have assembled a studly young cornerback group, and now must get them up-front help. RE Osi Umenyiora is washed up at age 32. New LE Tyson Jackson and NT Paul Soliai are one-trick-pony run stuffers. DT Jonathan Babineaux is going on 33, and DT Corey Peters is returning from an Achilles' tear. Either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack would make perfect sense for Atlanta toward the top of May's draft. This team badly needs an outside pass rusher.


Norris' options


First day option: Khalil Mack, Buffalo - As Evan said, this team needs to exit the draft with a top edge player. Clowney is the odds on favorite for the No. 1 pick, so the team could trade up for the No. 2 pick. Mack would offer tremendous versatility for a front that uses multiple looks. Mike Nolan deploys odd and even fronts, and Mack consistently shows powerful hands to jolt his opponent, keep them on skates, or hold the edge once resetting the line of scrimmage.  He also shows speed, fluidity, and convert in space.


Second day possibility: Marcus Smith, Louisville - While Mack would fill Kroy Biermann’s role, Smith is more of a pure edge rusher. I always talk about converting speed to power, since it is a difficult skill for offensive tackles to handle. It is something Clowney offers, something Scott Crichton offers and something Smith offers. He is used to rushing from a two point stance, but was also asked to loop inside. Smith does not settle when blocked at the line of scrimmage. He wants to disrupt.


Third day flier: Ronald Powell, Florida - The highly acclaimed high school recruit suffered multiple injuries throughout college. With that said, Powell flashes explosive movements upfield and could be a nice investment on the third day. Teams might consider him a better pro than college player.


No. 2 Team Need: Tight End


Silva's analysis


Tony Gonzalez's retirement left behind block-first sophomore Levine Toilolo and practice squad-type players on Atlanta's tight end depth chart. The Falcons may lean on three-receiver sets following Harry Douglas' career-best year, but could still use a tight end who poses at least some semblance of a passing-game threat. One capable of lining up detached from the line of scrimmage. Heavy-footed Toilolo had 11 receptions as a rookie, and isn't the answer skill-set wise.


Norris' options


First day option: The team will not take a tight end with a top six pick.


Second day possibility: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech - This should be Amaro’s floor. Amaro spent 90 percent of his time in the slot, utilizing fluidity and body control to be a mismatch target against safeties, corners and linebackers. He is improving at the catch point and was asked to make a lot of short to intermediate grabs. I do believe his skills project to running the seam, and he even could be an inline option since Amaro displayed a willingness to get physical at the point of attack. The Falcons can’t afford to lose this wrinkle of their offense.


Third day flier: Arthur Lynch, Georgia - Lynch has a chance to be a third-round pick, and might even be the sixth tight end off the board. I do think enough movement skills have been displayed for Lynch to be detached in some instances, so he can rotate from the slot to inline. He’s not the most explosive mover, and he is not great after the catch, but Lynch can win while boxing out on the ground.


No. 3 Team Need: Safety


Silva's analysis


Offensive line could also be argued as one of Atlanta's top needs, but safety is more pressing after the Falcons hit the line hard in free agency, but did nothing to bolster its secondary beyond releasing FS Thomas DeCoud. The team currently has Dwight Lowery, Kemal Ishmael, Zeke Motta, and Sean Baker behind SS William Moore. Safety play is critical in DC Mike Nolan's defense, where they are utilized interchangeably. Most specifically, he needs a safety with center-field range.


Norris' options


First day option: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama - If the Falcons cannot trade up for one of the two edge players, they should attempt to move back a few spots and pick Clinton-Dix, or even draft him at No. 6. Ha Ha has the center field range Evan asked for, and he flashed some interchangeable skills on occasion, specifically when asked to drop closer to the line of scrimmage and cover inside receivers.


Second day possibility: Terrence Brooks, FSU - Brooks’ name consistently appears in these preview articles because he might be the best second day safety prospect in this draft. He displays plenty of range in the deeper portions of the field, timing receivers at the catch point or undercutting those patterns to beat them to the ball. In a somewhat shallow safety class, Brooks could start early.


Third day flier: Bene Benwikere, San Jose State - I know Benwikere played corner in college, but expect to see a number of corners make the transition to safety because of a weaker class. Benwikere looked very comfortable in tight spaces in the slot, obtaining vision and fighting for the ball at its highest point. Those ball skills will come in handy as a safety.


Video: Norris on Atlanta's top need


Falcons 2014 Draft Picks (10)


First Round (No. 6)

Second Round (No. 37)

Third Round (No. 68)

Fourth Round (No. 103)

Fourth Round (No. 139)

Fifth Round (No. 147)

Sixth Round (No. 182)

Seventh Round (No. 220)

Seventh Round (No. 253)

Seventh Round (No. 255)


Falcons Current First-Team Offense


QB: Matt Ryan

RB: Steven Jackson

WR: Julio Jones

WR: Roddy White

WR: Harry Douglas

TE: Levine Toilolo

LT: Sam Baker

LG: Justin Blalock

C: Joe Hawley

RG: Jon Asamoah

RT: Lamar Holmes


Falcons Current First-Team Defense


RE: Osi Umenyiora

LE: Tyson Jackson

NT: Paul Soliai

DT: Jonathan Babineaux

MLB: Paul Worrilow

WLB: Sean Weatherspoon

SLB: Kroy Biermann

RCB: Desmond Trufant

LCB: Robert Alford

FS: Dwight Lowery

SS: William Moore



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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