The Atlanta Falcons are one of the best teams in the NFL, but they are old at a lot of key positions, and they lack depth/talent at some really important ones. This is a team that will always be in the thick of things thanks to Matt Ryan and his pair of stud receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, but can they have as good of a season as they did as a whole in 2012 again?
Here are my top needs for the Falcons as we approach the offseason in 2013 (in no particular order).
1. Defensive Line
The Falcons’ defense gave up just the fifth most points in the league, but they were among the league’s worst against both the run and the pass. A big reason why they were able to rank so highly in points allowed was because of their ability to force turnovers at incredibly opportune times, and often in bulk. The Falcons have a need at both defensive tackle and defensive end coming up this offseason.
John Abraham had 10 sacks last year to lead the Falcons at the age of 34. Kroy Biermann had only four sacks and there is a huge need for pass rush in Atlanta. I think DE could easily be the position on their radar with their first round pick.
William Moore and Thomas DeCoud were fantastic in 2012 at getting takeaways, hauling in 10 interceptions between the both of them. Asante Samuel proved to be a great pickup and hauled in five interceptions as well. Aside from that, the Falcons simply had a bunch of guys get just one interception. They have to take a look at the cornerback position this offseason.
Brent Grimes and Chris Owens are free agents, and despite Samuel’s fantastic year overall, he’s 32 years old. The Falcons need to use a high pick on a cornerback, something they haven’t done. Dunta Robinson was signed to get interceptions as well, and he produced just four in three seasons with the Falcons. He will be 31 in April.
3. Running Back
How much longer can the Falcons rely on Michael Turner? Turner seemed to come up with some big runs when they needed it this past year, but this is a team that used to be among the league’s leaders in rushing, and they’ve now become a pass-oriented offense that struggles to run the ball. Turner was still able to cash in with 10 rushing touchdowns, but no tailback on Atlanta’s roster finished with a yard-per-carry average of four or better.
Jason Snelling had basically no impact in the running game this past season, and Jacquizz Rodgers appears to be a solid change of pace back, but he has to prove he can be more of a home run hitter. I could see Atlanta moving on from Turner and Snelling and starting from scratch here. RB has to be a first round option for this team so their offense can have more balance.
4. Tight End
This could become a huge need if Tony Gonzalez decides to hang up the cleats for good. There is still potential for him to return, but he’s a free agent and will need to think if that’s really what he wants to do. If he leaves, he leaves the Falcons with a huge void at the position.
5. Offensive Line
Todd McClure and Sam Baker are free agents, and the Falcons’ offensive line struggled in the running game in 2012. This could be an area where the Falcons look to upgrade early in the draft.