Nov 2, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) stands on the sidelines during a timeout against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 34-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
It’s very obvious that Atlanta’s biggest weakness is in the trenches. The offensive line can’t make holes for the running back, they can’t give Matt Ryan any time in the pocket. On the other side, the defensive line isn’t getting much pressure on the quarterbacks and they aren’t making the tackles in the backfield (or anywhere) in the run game. So lets break down what we need on the line.
Defensive End: Osi is a force and will be for a few years. Although Biermann is a very talented end, he isn’t a pure pass rusher. He’ll be used a lot, but Atlanta needs a real pass rushing force to accompany Osi Umenyiora.
Defensive Tackle: All three of Atlanta’s top defensive tackles are free agents this offseason. The question is what to do and where to make the changes. Jerry Needs to go. Peters needs to stay. Babineaux should stay. He’s good enough to keep around, but at the right price. Let him hit free agency and see if we can get him back for a good deal.
Center: Probably the biggest need on the offensive side of the ball. Someone to anchor the line, block for the runner and passer and make the adjustments. He needs to be a beast and Atlanta severely needs one.
Right Guard: Probably the least-needed position on the right side of the line, but still a concern. Garret Reynolds has proven he can be a quality lineman, but he’s not the long-term answer. The Falcons should make an upgrade if they can, but other spots need to be addressed first.
Right Tackle: Lamar Holmes has drastically improved from his terrible performance in the beginning of the season. However, he won’t amount to anything more than a quality backup spot. He can fill in where he needs to, but Atlanta needs a starter for that position. Mike Johnson may be the guy, but Atlanta needs to explore the draft to see what’s available.
Now’s the fun part: I get to play GM and call the shots. Starting with free agents.
Alex Mack is a free agent center from Cleveland. I want to throw the sink at him. I need this guy on the line and I’ll get him at almost any cost. I’d like to fix center in the draft, but Atlanta needs a quality, proven, veteran for this job. There isn’t a better guy available than Alex Mack.
If Babineaux comes back, I’ll start giving a lot more snaps to Travian Robertson and draft someone in the later rounds that can be a strong developmental type. If we lose out on Babs, however, it would be wise to address the DT position in the free agency. Perhaps Richard Seymour would give it another shot or (if available) take a shot at Raji.
When the Draft comes around, it’s time to cash in the only redeeming factor of a horrible season: the high round draft picks.
This low in the draft, there is a very good shot at picking up Jadeveon Clowney. Ignore what you hear about his poor effort or laziness, they aren’t factors. He’s playing injured, not to mention it’s very easy in college to just avoid a defensive force. That’s not possible in the NFL, Clowney will be extremelu explosive and an immediate upgrade.
Second Round comes around and we might as well have a low first round. In other words, we can pick up another starter. Brandon Scherff form Iowa is that guy. He may not be a force on the left side like he plays in college, but he’s versatile and would be a long-term answer at right tackle. Letting him compete with Holmes and Johnson would give a good right tackle and solid depth across the line.
The third round comes and I might as well be picking a late second. Whoever I pick could be a starter off the bat or someone who’ll get a lot of snaps. I have shallow depth at Right Guard and Defensive Tackle. I’ll pick whoever is the best at either position. I’m picking up Dominique Easley in this one. Garret Reynolds can hold his own and I he can handle another season. Maybe a first round pick replaces him in 2015, but for right now he’s solid. Easley will provide strength and speed to defensive front that needs some help. Not to mention being able to learn from (possibly) Babineaux will be very good for a young guy like that.
I got to play GM, now it’s your turn. Who would you pick give the Atlanta’s position?