2018 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch
With their 2017 season over, it's time for Falcons fans to turn their attention to the draft
The Falcons entered 2017 with high hopes after having a Super Bowl title in their grasp but watching it slip away. But the storyline of the 2017 season was the NFC upstarts emerging from the shadows, leaving a team like the Falcons fighting for a wild card at the end of the season. How do they recapture the magic of 2016 this offseason? Let's dive in.
2018 draft picks
- Round 1: Atlanta
- Round 2: Atlanta
- Round 3: Atlanta
- Round 4: Atlanta
- Round 5: None
- Round 6: Atlanta
- Round 7: Atlanta
The Falcons find themselves without a fifth-round pick after acquiring Ty Sambrailo from the Broncos before the beginning of the season. Sambrailo saw some action early in the season at right tackle but only played a few snaps after Ryan Schraeder returned to health.
Biggest offseason needs
- Right guard
- Defensive tackle
- Free safety
The Falcons are pretty much set on offense, but the one weak spot of the offensive line remains at right guard, where Wes Schweitzer hasn't played up to the level of his linemates. The team could also explore bringing in a better receiver at the tight end position, but Austin Hooper still has room to grow.
Defensively, the Falcons are set to lose Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe to free agency, and while they have the depth to overcome the loss of Clayborn, particularly if rookie Takk McKinley takes over a bigger role moving forward, finding a defensive tackle to play next to Grady Jarrett should be one of the team's top priorities this offseason. The secondary remains in place, but one spot that could use an upgrade is at safety to pair with young star Keanu Neal.
Prospects to watch
Martinas Rankin, OT/OG, Mississippi State
If he was bigger, Rankin would be a top-flight tackle prospect. On film, he wins with outstanding leverage and leg churn as a run-blocker, and because he's smaller than most left tackles, his feet are quick. Rankin could provide positional versatility for the Falcons and bolster the run game immediately, as his mobility would be an ideal match for Atlanta's zone-blocking scheme.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
In the Dan Quinn defense, stemming from his time in Seattle, there's typically a wide, two-gapping defensive tackle next to a quick, penetrating defensive tackle (example: Grady Jarrett). Wilkins would be an ideal fit in as a block-eater up front, and he could kick over to end in certain situations. He's super strong at the point of attack and is not limited athletically.
Damon Webb, S, Ohio State
Webb doesn't have the range former Ohio State safety Malik Hooker did, and that's ok. Hooker was a rangy freak. Webb stepped in admirably for Hooker in 2017, as he reeled in five interceptions and defended three other passes. At around 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he's fast to charging to the sideline to disrupt downfield passes on the perimeter.
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