2023 NFL Draft: Reviewing team needs in the NFC South

Tom Brady (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Tom Brady (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /
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NFL Draft
Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images) /

2023 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons will be a really fun team to watch this offseason. In my view, they landed an excellent draft class in 2022. Desmond Ridder, Drake London, and Tyler Allgeier joined an offense that already had second-year tight end Kyle Pitts, and all three had solid rookie seasons. There’s no question that the Falcons have talent at the skill positions.

On defense, rookie EDGE Arnold Ebiketie showed a good deal of promise and Grady Jarrett got a contract extension just last summer. If the Falcons add right this offseason, this is a team that could very well be the NFC South division winner next season.

Top Draft Needs: OL, DL, WR

The Falcons need to improve in the trenches on both sides of the ball. On offense, Atlanta has two starting linemen set for free agency. Starting right tackle Kaleb McGary had his fifth-year option declined before the season and then went on to play the best football in his life.

Even if Atlanta has a change of heart, McGary will likely test the market. Left guard Elijah Wilkinson was unspectacular but solid enough, and if not re-signed will leave another hole up front. Drafting a tackle with the versatility to kick inside would be ideal; the Falcons could even add another interior lineman late.

On the other side of the ball, the defensive line is probably Atlanta’s biggest weakness. In 2022, the Falcons had the 27th ranked defense, allowing 362.1 yards per game. They ranked 31st in sacks, with a mere 21. The pass rush has long been an opportunity for Atlanta and outside of Jarrett, this unit lacks both top-end talent and depth.

Outside of the trenches, the Falcons could look to the perimeter on both sides of the ball. Adding a legitimate WR2 opposite Drake London could elevate both he and Kyle Pitts to a new level. On defense, Casey Hayward will be 34 next season, is set to be a free agent in 2024, and is coming off a season in which he only played six games. Finding a long-term solution opposite A.J. Terrell must be a priority. Depth issues in the secondary were obvious in 2022.