Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
With free agency seemingly winding down and all the major moves having been completed attention now shifts to the draft. So far this off-season the Falcons have made a very clear and conscious effort to improve the depth and nastiness of the squad. Lets firstly take a quick look at the moves the Falcons have made and where it leaves them as the draft approaches.
One of the most obvious and yet more important signings this off season was the signing of former Chief RG Jon Asamoah.
Asamoah sures up the cursed right guard spot for the Falcons and he will hopefully provide some much needed stability to a line in desperate need of it.
The signings of Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai signify the Falcons shift to more of a 3-4 base defense this year and both players add some serious weight and run stopping ability.
The Falcons also resigned some of their home grown talent, resigning all three free agent defensive tackles. The resigning of Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux should be welcomed by Falcons fans while the resigning of Jerry, while surprising should not be blown out of proportion, in all likelihood Jerry will not make it out of camp.
Other signings the Falcons made this offseason:
Resigned offensive lineman Mike Johnson
Resigned center Joe Hawley
Signed cornerback Javier Arenas
Signed KR/PR Devin Hester
Having looked at the Falcons signings it is now time to look at the current roster and the areas which will need addressing in the upcoming draft.
The obvious hole that remains on the Falcons roster is the lack of a legitimate pass rusher. The pass rushing has arguably worsened since the end of last season as Osi is a year older and we have not added one player who will help rush the passer. The Falcons may have added some big bodies up front who will sure up the run defense but it is surprising that they have not added a pass rusher of any sort, especially considering the amount of quality pass rushers available and the significant cap room the Falcons had available. Having failed to add a pass rusher in free agency the Falcons will need to add some pass rushers in the draft.
It is my personal opinion that the Falcons need to add at least two legitimate pass rushers in this draft and one of them needs to be taken round 1.
The second biggest hole on the Falcons roster is one of their own doing. I have made my views on the DeCoud release clear and will not repeat my previous article but to me the release of DeCoud never made sense and the move looks even more questionable now. However, what is done is done and the Falcons now need a new free safety. Chris Clemons is still available as a free agent but so far there has been nothing linking him with Atlanta and it seems that Dimitroff will look to the draft to add his new safety.
If the Falcons add a pass rusher and a safety early in the draft then the following are the positions I would look to target in the latter rounds:
- Tight End
- Wide Receiver
- Running back
For those of you reading this and thinking I have forgotten about Sam Baker and the Falcons need for a new left tackle, no I have not forgotten. The Falcons had a roster full of holes coming into this offseason and the term Rome wasn’t built in a day comes to mind. The Falcons can not hope to fix all of their problems this off season and in my opinion they are better off giving Baker one last year to prove himself as the Falcons franchise left tackle while fixating on other positions in the draft.
To wrap up, the Falcons off season has been a mixed bag. They have added some useful players but they have also signed some very mediocre players to some very serious contracts. The Soliai contract isn’t as bad as it looks on paper but the Tyson Jackson contract to me makes no sense. Giving Jackson, a two down one dimensional player $5 million a year just makes little sense to me. Personally I don’t see what Jackson offers over Malliciah Goodman that would justify the major salary difference between the two. The DeCoud release is another sour point for me and I just don’t understand why the Falcons wanted to create another hole for themselves. I was glad to see William Moore share my feelings about DeCoud and stick up for his teammate. One of the things that does worry me is how the Falcons seem to be intent on overcompensating for past mistakes. The Falcons are also quickly becoming somewhat of laughing stock with Dimitroff seemingly happy to sign former Pioli busts. If the signings pan out then fair enough but at the moment it seems Dimitroff is trying to fix Pioli’s broken ego by nursing his former draft picks back to life, and this is a road which needs to be avoided at all costs.
In summary then, not disastrous, not brilliant but somewhere in the middle, with a good draft this team can get back on the right road in 2014 but if free agency is anything to go by, I wont hold my breath.