Draft day blog: Falcons, Quinn still need to be thinking about defense

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn speaks during a press conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

A few thoughts on the first round of the NFL draft tonight, and I believe I can get through this blog without allowing ESPN to pound me over the head with their 387 hours of buildup, which already has me sick of the entire exercise, even before the first pick.

• For starters: Most draft “experts” — a graduate certificate can be obtained from the University of Phoenix, along with a video-game repair certification program — believe the Cleveland Browns will take Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Cleveland also likes North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky but could take him later in the round. I have no idea who they’re going to take. You have no idea who they’re going to take. I’m only confident in this: Years from now we’re going to look back on the Browns’ draft and think, “Aaaaaaaaaagggghh!” Because, Browns.

• On guard? Pffft: The Falcons need a guard. So what? I’m not telling you that it doesn’t matter who starts at right guard because, yes, guards are important. But when a team knows that four-fifths of a solid starting offensive line is returning — left tackle Jake Matthews, left guard Andy Levitre, center Alex Mack, right tackle Ryan Schraeder — that puts it ahead of most teams. I would be stunned if the Falcons go guard with their first pick, unless every possible attractive defensive player on their board is gone. They can obtain a right guard later in the draft or pick through the remains of free agents and plug in a veteran for a year.

• Defense, defense, defense:  Often lost in the analysis of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s late-game play-calling in the Super Bowl loss — and coach Dan Quinn’s decision to not overrule him on said decisions — is the collapse of the defense. The Falcons made significant progress defensively last season but not nearly enough to Quinn’s liking. I’m thinking this draft will be the focus with the early picks again. Quinn and his assistants have shown an ability to not merely identify talented defensive players but also ones who specifically fit into what the Falcons like to do. Consider who the Falcons have acquired defensively in the last two drafts: Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Jalen Collins, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. But the depth chart on that side of the ball still has a few holes.

• Safety or edge rusher? The Falcons need both. They need a defensive end/edge rusher who can compliment Vic Beasley, who turned into one of the NFL’s best pass rushers last season. Bringing back Dwight Freeney seems like a Plan B (or maybe even C) at this point. But the fact NFL offenses throw the ball so much now means defenses are in nickel at least 70 percent of the snaps. In Quinn’s scheme, the safety is important. He would love to find another one in this draft to go with Neal.  The best safeties, LSU’s Jamal Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, will be gone before the Falcons pick at 31. So the question is how highly Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff value Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (who could be downgraded after a recent diluted drug test) or Washington’s Budda Baker (who’s more of a consensus second-round pick).

• On the line: If the Falcons go with an edge rusher, Missouri’s Charles Harris, Kansas State’s Jordan Willis, Michigan’s Taco Charlton and Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt are possible options, depending on who will be left late in the round. However . . .

• Trade time? Could the Falcons trade up? Yes. I doubt they would attempt to move up more than six to 10 spots if there’s a player they really like, probably from the above group. In 2013, they moved up eight spots, from 30 to 22, to take cornerback Desmond Trufant out of Washington. They basically gave St. Louis a third-rounder to do so.  (The teams also swapped low-round picks.) I could see that happening again but obviously the Falcons won’t be able to make a deal with a team looking for the same thing they are.

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Reader Comments 0

7 comments
Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

A wise man (Bill Polian) said ,never waste a 1st round pick on an offensive guard .You can always get a guard in the 3rd or 4th round.

E983
E983

Nobody knows but Quinn.

Bug
Bug

I guess what I am saying is the old saying: Your only as good as your weakest link. Chester got destroyed in the Super Bowl, not saying he was the reason they lost but it did not help. The Falcons cannot lose as long as the "Coach" tells them who to pick. Leave it to TD and they will end up with another Perry Jerry.

Bug
Bug

My friend, remember G. Reynolds? At that time the falcons had 4 solid starters. Mr. Reynolds got destroyed game after game and as a result it effected the lines continuity, Ryan had to go to the sideline to clean out his britches. And it cost the Falcons at least 2 wins.


ATL89
ATL89

If you are hitting on a lot of your picks, then why trade up? Either trade back, or stay put and pick the best player available. Keep finding those lower round gems and that's building through the draft.

ATL89
ATL89

I know this is far-fetched, but I would love to see the us trade back into the top of the 2nd and get the defensive player(DE or Safety) that we want, and get the guard that we want or somewhat need in the lower part of the 2nd.