Needs: The Super Bowl runners-up have lived with the disappointment of their collapse for a few months now — but here comes the tough part: getting back to the Super Bowl and redeeming themselves. The Falcons are well-equipped to contend in 2017, but they aren’t without needs, the biggest being a defensive end to complement Vic Beasley and a right guard who can step in right away. Other needs include free safety, defensive tackle, and a pass catcher, either as a tight end or slot receiver.
Picks: First round (31), second round (63), third round (95), fourth round (136), fifth round (174), seventh round (249).
Dion Dawkins, OG, Temple
When Dawkins gets his hands on you, you stay put. He’s a powerful man who craves contact, but still has room to grow. He’s a stout run defender who showed the tenacity necessarily to win on passing downs at the next level — particularly at guard. At 6-foot-4, he’s also big enough to play tackle in a pinch, making his first-round worthy.
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Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
It's not guaranteed that Jones comes anywhere near the Falcons’ second-round pick, but if he’s there because teams don’t see a need for a first-round caliber wide receiver, Dan Quinn’s team would be foolish not to take him. He’d be a quick study to the Falcons’ offense and would make it that much more prolific. While this isn’t a massive need, it’s a move that will make a football team noticeably better.
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Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
A pass-rushing 3-technique, Johnson is going to provide push up front — something the Falcons love didn’t get enough of last year. Atlanta signed Dontari Poe from the Chiefs, but he’s a one-year rental who wasn’t all that productive in Kansas City last year. Johnson will get a chance to rotate in and then take over full-time in 2018.
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Tedric Thompson, FS, Colorado
Thompson is being overlooked in this really strong safety class. He’s an excellent Cover-3 free safety who has the size, vision and elite instincts to cover the middle of the field. He’s not a thumper, but you’re not going to get both the ballhawking and the heavy hits on the third day — but one is far more valuable than the other on draft day. Just know that any other year, Thompson would be a second- or third-round pick. (How good was that Colorado secondary last year?)
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Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas
Wise isn’t a fast-twitch player, but he is big and strong and knows how to play defensive end. He can start at weak-side DE immediately, providing solid run defense and some sacks on extended downs. The Falcons could get the replacement for Dwight Freeney in the first round, but Wise isn’t far behind the second-tier prospects and can be had on the third day.