Team Needs: Atlanta Falcons
By: Stephen Zorio 
Posted: 2008-03-10
Category: Washington Redskins News
2007 Results: 4-12
2008 Projected Cap Status: $124,700,000 or $8,700,000 over the cap

The Atlanta Falcons endured a 2007 season that was perhaps tougher than any in franchise history. They had to deal with the massive media coverage swirling around former franchise star quarterback Michael Vick. Then, with three games remaining in the season, following another humiliating loss, first-year head coach Bobby Petrino abandoned the team to take a job as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Befitting a tumultuous season, the Falcons struggled in a variety of areas.
A team that had been a perennial rushing power tumbled to 26th in the league, paired with the 18th ranked passing offense and an offensive line that allowed the seventh most sacks (47) in the league.

Things were no better on the defensive side of the ball, the team was and 29th in total defense: 25th in total sacks, 23rd against the pass, 26th against the run and it allowed the fourth most points in the NFL. Of course, a team that struggles as much as the Falcons did offensively is going to hinder its defense but the overarching theme is one of widespread need. The team took an early step to address its offensive woes by signing running back Michael Turner, giving him his first shot as a featured back after performing admirably as LaDainian Tomlison's backup in San Diego.

Team Needs:

1) Quarterback: This is the team's most obvious need though it may not be addressed with the team's first pick (third overall) as new head coach Mike Smith has indicated the team is willing to be flexible with the pick, which may include a trade. However, neither Byron Leftwich nor Joey Harrington represents the long-term answer at that position so look for the team to make some type of move to address this.

2) Offensive line: Some experts believe that the Falcons will use their first pick to draft an offensive lineman; that would not be a bad choice. The draft is lacking in a clear-cut favorite at the quarterback position and Michigan tackle Jake Long should still be available at the third pick. The team managed only 73 rushing first downs last season (tied for fifth worst) so adding a big tackle for Turner to run behind would make sense.

3) Secondary: The team has reportedly been shopping stand-out corner DeAngelo Hall and he is, by far, their best corner. Opposing teams completed nearly 63% of their passes against the Falcons last season and Hall was responsible for nearly one-third of the team's 16 interceptions. The team also surrendered 27 passing touchdowns, tied for fourth-worst in the league. The team already signed a pair of free agent safeties so it may look to address its defensive line woes instead. However, if Hall is traded, the team must add some corner depth.

2008 Draft Picks:

1st Round: 3rd overall
2nd Round: 37th overall
2nd Round: 48th overall
3rd Round: 68th overall


Free agency status:

UFA:

QB Byron Leftwich
RB Warrick Dunn RB
WR Jamin Elliott
TE Courtney Anderson
TE Dwayne Blakley
T Wayne Gandy
DT Tim Anderson DT UFA
Rod Coleman DT UFA
Marcus Wilkins LB UFA
LB Demorrio Williams
CB Lewis Sanders
S Chris Crocker
S Omare Lowe
PK Morten Anderson

RFA:

RB Corey McIntyre
DE Chauncey Davis
LB Michael Boley
P Michael Koenen
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