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Can Falcons Fix Defense In One NFL Draft?

The Falcons have many offseason holes to fill, and in the latest mock draft from Draft Wire, they get two early

After a disappointing 7-10 season in Atlanta where the Falcons struggled under first-year head coach Arthur Smith, there will be much room for improvement.

That improvement can happen through the further development of current players, signing free agents from other teams, or can start with the upcoming NFL Draft which begins on April 28. Atlanta has three picks inside the top 60.

It's the time of year when our timelines are full of player speculation and mock drafts, and USA Today's Draft Wire has released its latest.

One position group where the Falcons need improvement is on the defensive line, and specifically on the edge. Atlanta registered just 15 sacks in 2021 and just one of those came from the defensive end position.

With the No. 8 selection in the first round, Draft Wire has Atlanta taking Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo. Ojabo had 11 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2021 as a junior and would be a welcomed addition to the front three in Dean Pees' 3-4 defense.

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Another position in need of an upgrade if the Falcons are thinking long-term is at quarterback. Matt Ryan turns 37 in May and is entering his 14th NFL season. While Ryan has been able to stay relatively healthy during his career, not everyone can play until the age of 44 like Tom Brady. 

With the No. 43 overall pick, Draft Wire has the Falcons taking Liberty QB Malik Willis as a potential Ryan replacement. Willis is a dual-threat quarterback who some have going in the top 10 while others speculate him lasting until the third round. His draft projections are all over the board, but his talent seems to speak for itself.

The Falcons also pick at No. 58, and with the possible departure of wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the selection of Alabama's John Metchie III makes a lot of sense. Metchie III had 96 catches for 1.142 yards and eight touchdowns. And while he hasn't gotten as much praise as his Crimson Tide teammate Jameson Williams, there are a lot of positives about his game. 

With both of Atlanta's starting safeties entering free agency, there is a strong possibility that the position group will be addressed in the draft. Draft Wire projects the Falcons taking Baylor safety Jalen Pitre with the 74th pick. Pitre had four interceptions since the 2020 season and his skills and abilities seem to be on the rise, and he's effective while blitzing.

The Falcons have a lot to address when it comes to both offense and defense, and of course, a lot can happen between now and April's draft.