The Atlanta Falcons have addressed the defensive end situation for at least the time being. Osi Umenyiora isn’t much of a different player than John Abraham is, but he’s a couple years younger, and is less expensive than Abe. I have no doubt that the Falcons would like to get an outstanding, young pass-rusher to go with Osi and Kroy Biermann as soon as possible, but at the moment they have a more gaping need at another position.
With Brent Grimes signing with Miami, the Falcons really need help at cornerback. Last year they had four corners who played extensively or were of starting caliber: Asante Samuel, Dunta Robinson, Grimes, and Robert McClain. Grimes left in free-agency, and Robinson was cut. He was never much more than serviceable however. But regardless, the Falcons are left looking pretty depleted at the corner position. McClain was good in the slot, and Samuel is still a starter, but who will take the other starting position?
My guess? The Falcons almost have to use their first-round pick on a corner. A lot of years, that would be a problem, as they’d likely be reaching. However, in this years draft, they would likely be able to get a very good corner at the #30 spot. Desmond Trufant from Washington, or Xavier Rhodes from Florida State are the to best prospects that could fall to Atlanta, but there are others. A guy like Mississippi State’s Jonathan Banks would be a great option for the Falcons at 30, and his experience in the SEC would be a major plus. You could get a corner who would probably take some lumps, but could start and play at a reasonably high level from day 1.
If you draft for need, you end up missing on a spot where you really need additional help. For the Falcons, that’s defensive end. They desperately need help rushing the passer, and as good as Umenyiora may be, the Falcons still need continued help. The Falcons could add someone in the later rounds of the draft, but that player is not likely to get much playing time. It might be more prudent to wait until the 2014 draft to get ‘that guy’ to play DE for the Falcons.
Of course, the Falcons could always sign a veteran corner for the veteran minimum, and get by with him, and still get ‘that guy’ DE in this year’s draft. There are several ways to approach this situation, and it will be interesting to see how everything is approached in the coming weeks.