Overview: With no first-round pick and only two picks in the first four rounds, the Falcons don’t figure to be major players early in the draft. GM Thomas Dimitroff isn’t shy about making bold moves, but there are no indications that the team is preparing to pull off another blockbuster trade to move back into the first round. Atlanta’s first- and fourth-round picks in 2012 were sent to the Browns as part of the trade to move up and select WR Julio Jones last year. The Falcons have six picks — a second-rounder (No. 55), third-rounder (No. 84), fifth-rounder, sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders.
Need No. 1: Offensive left tackle
It appears likely that Sam Baker, a first-round pick in 2008, will head into camp as the starting left tackle, and that doesn’t seem to sit well with a significant segment of the team’s fan base. While some of the fans have lost faith in Baker, the Falcons are counting on him to bounce back from a disappointing, injury-riddled season in which he was moved to guard. Plus, the team knows it has a solid backup in Will Svitek, who started 10 games at left tackle in 2011. Both Baker and Svitek are in the final year of their deals, however, and the team should be looking for a player with the potential to protect QB Matt Ryan’s blind side.
Need No. 2: Defensive line
The Falcons re-signed DEs John Abraham and Kroy Biermann and are hoping for stronger seasons from DE Ray Edwards, who was a disappointment after signing as a high-priced free agent last year, and DTs Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry. They would be wise to continue looking for help at the DE and DT spots to ramp up a middling pass rush. Abraham has been their best pass rusher, but he turns 34 in May and Atlanta needs to get more speed and disruption from the front four.
Need No. 3: Tight end
Atlanta has not drafted a tight end since trading for Tony Gonzalez, but the Falcons have been looking at potential replacements for him in recent years and might be as tempted as ever to address the position with Gonzalez playing on a one-year deal and suggesting that the 2012 season could be his last. Gonzalez is still very effective, even at 36 years old, and QB Matt Ryan already has a good collection of weapons, but he certainly won’t complain if the team adds another dynamic receiving threat to its arsenal.