In an ESPN Insider article, Mel Kiper Jr. goes through all of the NFC South teams, auditing all of them for what is new with them from a personnel and schematic standpoint, what questions still remain for the teams, and what specific player and player type the teams will go after in the draft in 2013.
The personnel changes, or lack thereof, have been discussed here. Obviously new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is the biggest addition on that side of the ball, and he will have to work some magic to generate a pass rush for the Falcons. The offensive line has some serious questions, and Kiper notes that rookie Peter Konz, a guard in college, will probably be asked to play guard if he starts in 2012. The questions mostly have to do with the aging defense (Abraham, Samuel, even Roddy White) and he notes that the Falcons window especially on the defensive side of the ball is brief. His biggest question is if the offense can be elite. He notes that Matt Ryan is a franchise QB with his best years in front of him. He is confident that it can happen if they spread things out a little more and allow Ryan to use the no huddle more often. I couldn’t agree more with all of that.
There is one final part that I didn’t agree with, but I also didn’t disagree with. It was who the Falcons would target in the 2013 NFL Draft. He projected that the Falcons would draft Corey Lemonier, a DE out of Auburn who would obviously improve the Falcons pass rush. Obviously it is a little early to be focused on one particular player for next year’s draft, but the point is that the Falcons need to improve their pass rush with a DE or 3-4 OLB depending on what direction the Falcons decide to go in the future.
This is where I am completely torn. Should the Falcons use their 1st round pick in 2013 on a pass-rusher given their aging talent, or lack of productivity? Or should they use that 1st round pick to draft an o-lineman, a franchise guard or better yet a franchise left tackle? Who would you rather have in 2013, a player who can start right away and protect Matt Ryan and make our offense truly elite? Or should we take a pass-rusher who can get our defense to where it needs to be to compete for a Super Bowl title? You decide and vote below.