How the Falcons can have the perfect 2020 NFL Draft by focusing adding talent and needs on defense

The Falcons have already laid down some of the groundwork towards re-building their roster for the 2020 season. In free agency, they traded a second-round pick to acquire former Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst after losing Austin Hooper to the Browns. Atlanta also signed running back Todd Gurley to a two-year deal after parting ways with Devonta Freeman. 

With some of their key positions already filled, the Falcons can focus on using their remaining six draft picks on addressing their other key needs. There are also rumors that Atlanta may try to trade up in the first round, as Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has done several times during his dozen seasons with the Falcons. But without a second-round pick, trading up in the first round will be easier said than done. 

With that in mind, here’s a look at how the Falcons can pull off the perfect draft without having to trade up in the first round. 

1. Grab the best remaining CB or DT 

While Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah and Auburn’s Derrick Brown are not expected to be available when the Falcons are on the clock with the 16th overall pick, they should be in line to select either the second-best cornerback or defensive tackle in Florida’s C.J. Henderson and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, respectively. The safe bet is the Falcons selecting Kinlaw, as there is more of a demand for cornerbacks in this year’s draft, particularly in the early portions of the first round. An Associated Press First Team All-American last season, Kinlaw would be a welcomed addition to a Falcons defensive line that Dante Fowler Jr. and Grady Jarrett. 

2. Rinse and repeat 

The Falcons should have nearly the same approach when they are on the clock with the 47th pick. If the Falcons take Kinlaw with the 16th pick, they should be on the lookout for the best available cornerback. Fortunately for them, this year’s draft is deep at that position, as Atlanta should be able to acquire a quality cornerback with this pick. In his seven-round mock draft, CBS Sports’ R.J. White has the Falcons spending the 47th pick on Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette, who is arguably one of the most underrated players in the draft. 

Things are a little murkier if the Falcons are looking for a defensive tackle with this pick. If this is the case, the Falcons will have to hope that Auburn defensive tackle Marlon Davidson is still available that far into the second round. 

3. Address linebacker, edge rusher 

White made the perfect third-round pick for the Falcons, as he has Atlanta taking Application State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, the best linebacker after Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, who is projected as a late first/early second-round pick. Not all is lost if Davis-Gaither is off the board, however, as there are still several other solid linebackers (specifically Oregon’s Troy Dye, Mississippi State’s Willie Gay Jr. and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison) that should still be on the board at this point in the draft. 

Unlike the linebacker position, the Falcons can wait until the seventh round to address this position. White has the Falcons taking Mississippi State edge rusher Chauncey Rivers with the 228th pick. Rivers, who started his college career at Georgia, recorded 8.0 sacks, 71 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss during his two seasons with the Bulldogs. 

Other edge options here could include Miami’s Trevon Hill, South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum and Syracuse’s Kendall Coleman. 

4. Add a running back, offensive lineman to the mix 

The Falcons should use their two fourth-round picks on addressing these positions. Michigan guard Ben Bredeson, a four-year starter for the Wolverines, would be an ideal fit with the 119th overall pick. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who ran for 30 touchdowns at Vanderbilt while averaging 5.8 yards per carry, would be a nice complementary fit with Gurley in the backfield. 

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