Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Atlanta Falcons [full archive here].
Season Recap – Compiling a 13-3 record, Matt Ryan and company shined throughout the regular season and secured the first seed in the NFC. The offense came together as Roddy White finished second in receiving yards while Michael Turner finished third in rushing. Atlanta’s run ended in the playoffs after they lost to the Packers in the divisional round. With such a young core of players, Atlanta seems poised to be one of the top teams in the NFL in 2011.
1. Defensive End – The Falcons don’t have much at DE and need to bring in a star to complement pro-bowler John Abraham. Jamaal Anderson has been a bust and Lawrence Sidbury hasn’t lived up to expectations. With the strength of this year’s class, the Falcons should be able to find a player in the first two rounds. Ryan Kerrigan could be a nice fit.
2. Wide Receiver - Roddy White is one of the top wide outs in the game, but in this league you need more than one guy. Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas are better served as 3 and 4 receivers. Adding a second starter would boost the passing game and help Matt Ryan. Torrey Smith could be the pick in round one.
3. Offensive Line – The Falcons had a solid line in 2010, but face question marks due to the pending free agents. Starters Tyson Clabo, Justin Blalock, and Harvey Dahl all are free agents and it’s uncertain if Atlanta will be able to resign them. If more than one gets away, Atlanta could have up to three new starters along the front. GM Thomas Dimitroff should look for lineman within the first three rounds.
4. Tight End – At 35, Tony Gonzalez may not have much left, granted he did make the Pro Bowl in 2010. Even if Gonzalez has three solid years left in him, it is time for Atlanta to start looking for a replacement to learn under Tony. Plus, another option wouldn’t bother Matt Ryan. Kyle Rudolph could be the selection if he slips in the second round.
5. Outside Linebacker – Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson are free agents leaving only special teamers Coy Wire and Spencer Adkins at the OLB spot across from Sean Weatherspoon. Atlanta’s defense finished 5th in the league last season so adding youth will only help.