The Falcons made a mega deal – a 5-for-1 trade with Cleveland – to move up 21 spots to select wide receiver Julio Jones last April.
Because they don’t have picks in the first and fourth rounds of the 2012 draft, they must be prudent in order to fulfill some of their needs.
Their first pick will be the 55th pick overall in the second round and they will look to add either a versatile offensive lineman or a defensive end to help with their anemic pass rush.
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They are looking for a tackle that can play both sides or either a tackle with the potential to swing inside to guard. The Falcons believe that quarterback Matt Ryan was under too much duress and took too many hits last season.
“The key to acquiring offensive linemen in today’s world is versatility,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Versatility, versatility, versatility, if you can get a tackle that can play both tackles and possibly swing to guard it is a very, very important thing.”
The Falcons are intrigued by Silatolu, who played at Division II Midwestern State.
“You also go into a situation where you discuss if a player is from a lower level of competition, i.e. I-AA or mid-major or even Division II and in this draft there are players like that,” Dimitroff said. “In the past seasons there have been players along the offensive line, in this case, who have competed at lower levels or Division II ball that have all the skills in the world, athletically, with power and strength.”
Left tackle: The Falcons must improve their pass protection in order to successfully implement new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s vertical passing attack. They want to run the ball more efficiently in short-yardage situations. They will likely take a tackle in case Sam Baker (back, elbow) does not return to good health. The rookie could provide depth and eventually compete for playing time with Baker and Will Svitek. California left tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been heavily scouted by the Falcons. Also, small-school guard Amini Silatolu from Midwestern State is a possibility.
Defensive end: The Falcons re-signed defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann in free agency. Abraham turns 34 on May 6 and Biermann has just 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons after getting five in 2009. Ray Edwards had 3.5 sacks last season, his lowest output since his rookie season in 2006. The Falcons could take a defensive end in the second round and they’ve been looking at some heftier nose tackles as they’ll likely play more three-man fronts under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Backup quarterback: The Falcons re-signed Chris Redman to serve as Matt Ryan’s backup. Redman turns 35 in July and John Parker Wilson did not play well during the last exhibition season. The Falcons could take a quarterback in the seventh round to come in to challenge Wilson and be in line to replace Redman down the road. Tennessee-Chattanooga’s B.J. Coleman and Southern Mississippi’s Austin Davis are prospective late-round candidates.
Tight end: With future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez nearing the end of his career, the Falcons have heavily scouted the tight ends. They are intrigued with Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ladarius Green and Cincinnati’s Adrien Robinson.