Atlanta Falcons should trade back in 1st round of NFL Draft


The Atlanta Falcons would pick at 14th in the 2016 NFL Draft if the season ended today. With few picks, the Falcons should trade back in the first round.

Yesterday’s embarrassing loss in Charlotte to the Carolina Panthers essentially nailed in the coffin of the Atlanta Falcons’ 2015 Playoff hopes. Atlanta would need to win out (@Jacksonville, Carolina, New Orleans) and have the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings lose out to finish at 9-7 and earn the sixth seed. That’s not happening after we’ve had to endure the longest active losing streak in the NFL at six games.

So let’s shift our focus towards the 2016 NFL Draft. With 21 of the NFL’s 32 teams currently under .500, the Atlanta Falcons would pick at 14th in the Draft had the season ended yesterday. If there is a chance that Atlanta continues to slide, there is a chance that the Falcons will pick in the Top 10 for the third year in a row.

-= Related: Atlanta Falcons destroyed by Carolina Panthers, 38-0 =-

Looking at the team’s primary needs to address in the 2016 NFL Draft, I would have to say that the team’s four biggest areas needing improvement are at inside linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and at center. Since I don’t think Atlanta would target a wideout in the first round with their mid-round pick in the first, I’d advocate for moving back in the draft for several reasons.

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Entering the 2016 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons only have five draft picks to orchestrate any sort of change to their roster. Atlanta had to forfeit its fifth round pick this year a punish for the embarrassing Noisegate Scandal. The Falcons also traded away this year’s sixth round pick to the Tennessee Titans in the deal to acquire starting left guard Andy Levitre.

With Atlanta’s lackluster ability to hit on mid-round picks (second to fifth round) with Thomas Dimitroff as general manager, the Falcons should look to spread the risk of having a draft pick fail by acquiring additional picks to offset a potential draft day blunder.

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  • The Atlanta Falcons are likely going to pick in the top half of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. I would expect the organization to target either an inside linebacker or a safety with their first round selection. Since neither position typically have players going in or around the Top 10, it would make sense for the Atlanta Falcons to move back and take a player like Alabama’s inside linebacker Reggie Ragland in the mid-to-late first round, a good player at position of need, and pick up another pick or two in the process to aid in the rest of the draft.

    The problem with this idea is that Dimitroff is more likely to move up than to fall back in the first round. He has moved up twice to get Julio Jones in 2011 and Desmond Trufant in 2013, both great players. However, giving up draft picks to move up have cost the Falcons dearly, as the 2012 Draft Class of Atlanta does not have a player on an NFL roster on three years later.

    For the Atlanta Falcons to get better, they will need to build depth through the draft, not draft flashy players that will woo fans into cheering for another sub-.500 team. In a transient city like Atlanta, winning in a panacea more than a superstar. Fans will celebrate winning more than they will celebrate talent.

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    It isn’t fun, but it would ultimately serve the Atlanta Falcons if they were to find a mid-to-late first round pick they like and move back for once. The best teams build through the draft by scouting and acquiring great players in the mid-to-late rounds. Hitting on a first round pick is one thing, but building a great team requires finding talent in the middle rounds. Atlanta could use more than five draft picks in 2016.