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The Falcons took a huge step back in 2013, with injuries and a lack of depth largely to blame. There’s still plenty of high-end talent at the skill positions, but the offensive line needs work, and the defense was among the league’s worst in 2013. The Falcons will want to make good use of the sixth overall pick, as it may be a few years before they have another selection this high. More so than most other teams drafting in the top ten, Atlanta is looking for players that can have an immediate impact.
1. Defensive End
The Falcons did not lack talent at the skill positions in 2013, but instead lost many battles in the trenches. Despite the signing of Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta finished 29th in the league with just 32 sacks. In a dream world, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would fall to the Falcons after a monstrous run on quarterbacks to begin the 2014 draft. However, even if that does not happen, the Falcons should still target pass rushers in this draft.
2. Offensive Guard
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Falcons took an offensive tackle— perhaps Greg Robinson out of Auburn with their first pick, if Clowney is off the board as expected. However, Atlanta was particularly poor at guard last season, as Pete Konz and Garrett Reynolds did not succeed at those spots. While there aren’t any highly rated guards worth taking with the Falcons’ first-round selection, the position will certainly have a new look heading into the 2014 season.
3. Defensive Tackle
Jonathan Babineaux is unlikely to be retained by the Falcons, as he had a subpar 2013 campaign. Corey Peters is a free agent, as is Peria Jerry, who is also coming off a knee injury. That leaves a gaping hole in the middle, which will obviously need to be addressed. Not only did the Falcons fail to pressure the quarterback last season, but they also allowed a staggering 135.8 rushing yards per game. Only the Chicago Bears were worse. As a result, Atlanta will look to beef up on the interior.