Need #1: Defensive End / Edge

Notable Free Agents:

  • Vic Beasley (2015 1st rounder, seemed destined for stardom after a 15.5 sack season in 2016 - but has only 18.5 combined sacks in the three seasons since then, he was the Falcon's top pass rusher last year - but has not been consistent enough to receive a long-term contract, both sides may be better off moving in different directions) 
  • Allen Bailey (veteran rotational DL, solid/unspectacular pass-rusher and run-defender)
  • Adrian Clayborn (veteran rotational DL, solid pass rusher and effective run-defender, recorded 4 sacks in 2019 - despite making only 1 start) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Tak McKinley (2017 1st rounder, recorded only 3.5 sacks in 13 games - which was a regression from his 7 sack season in 2018, shoulder injuries have been a frequent limitation, he has the skill and talent - but needs to put everything together in 2020) 
  • John Cominsky (2019 4th rounder, barely played as a rookie, entered the league as a small-school prospect with intriguing size and athletic ability, may be a better fit at DT, lack of production was understandable in year one - but a step-up will be expected in 2020)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons had one of the league's least productive pass-rush units in 2019 - at least one new starter and a few rotational rushers are needed. 

Updates: 

  • Resigned Allen Bailey 
  • Signed Dante Fowler Jr. (was coached by Quinn in college, had a career year in LA last season - recorded 11.5 sacks and 16 TFL, should be a big-time upgrade in ATL and provide the explosive pass-rush boost they've been seeking, though some of his production was probably the result of all the attention Aaron Donald receives, he will be 26 when the 2020 season kicks-off) 
  • Traded for Charles Harris (2017 1st rounder, made only 8 starts and recorded 3.5 sacks across his 3 seasons in MIA, but he still possesses the theoretical upside that once made him in a 1st rounder pick, was acquired for a 2021 7th rounder - so this is a worthwhile, low-risk move)

Need #2: Defensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Tyeler Davison (solid run-stuffer, but does not offer much sack/TFL productivity) 
  • Jack Crawford (rotational DL, 6.5 sacks over the past 3 seasons - only 0.5 in 2019, will be 32 years old in Septemeber) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Grady Jarrett (received a monster contract extension in July 2019 - and rewarded the team with a career year - 7.5 sacks, 12 TFLs, 16 QBH, he doesn't receive much national recognition - but he is definitely one of  the league's top DTs, excellent vs. the run and pass) 
  • Deadrin Senat (2018 3rd rounder, only made two appearances in 2019 - and recorded no statistical production, he will be fighting for a roster spot in 2020) 

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons need to address the starting DT spot next to Jarrett. Depth is also an obvious need. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Tyeler Davison
  • Drafted in 2nd Round: Marlon Davidson (51 career starts at Auburn - outproduced #3 overall pick Derrick Brown in 2019 - with 7.5 sacks - though he did not face the same level of double-teams, mostly played 3-4 OLB in college but probably projects as a DT in the NFL, offers above-average power and athletic ability for a 300 pounder, has starter upside if the Falcons can find the right position/role for him)

Need #3: Tight End / Fullback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Austin Hooper (two straight seasons of top 10 TE production, very solid and reliable, but in a league short on quality TEs - Hooper is likely to be out of the Falcon's price range) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Keith Smith (fullback and special teamer)
  • Luke Stocker (veteran blocking specialist, only 8 receptions in 2019) 
  • Jaeden Graham (2018 UDFA, caught 9 passes for 147 yards and TD in 2019, good athlete, could compete for TE2 role in 2020) 

Need Level: Very High 

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons will need to either resign or replace Hooper. Depth is also a substantial need. 

Updates:

  • Released Luke Stocker 
  • Traded for Hayden Hurst (2018 1st rounder, had some nice moments in BAL - but was outshined by Mark Andrews, offers much more athletic ability and even upside than Hooper - but will have to prove he can be as reliable, this is an excellent addition) 
  • Resigned Luke Stocker

Need #4: Running Back

Notable Free Agents:

  • Brian Hill (RFA, made 2 starts in 2019 and finished the year with 78 carries, 323 yards, and 2 TDs - good for a decent 4.1 ypc, could return to handle RB2/RB3 duties) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Devonta Freeman (averaged only 3.6 ypc across 14 games in 2019, and played in only 2 games the season before due to injury, he is signed through the 2022 season - but the team may look to move on - as the lack of production no longer justifies the contract) 
  • Ito Smith (2018 4th rounder, 22-105-1 across 7 games played in 2019 - good for an impressive 4.8 ypc, could compete for the RB1 job in 2020) 
  • Qadreee Ollison (2018 5th rounder, quintessential short-yardage power-back - 4 TDs but only 2.3 ypc in 2019) 

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons could use an upgrade over Freeman - who hasn't been reliable or effective since the 2017 season. 

Updates:

  • Released Devonta Freeman
  • Resigned Brian Hill 
  • Signed Todd Gurley (the NFL's top RB in 2017 and 2018, his notorious knee issues limited him in 2019 - and his numbers took a big hit - 857 rushing yards, 3.8 ypc - but he still scored 14 TDs and had some dynamic moments, Gurley is a clear upgrade over Freeman and while the knee issues are likely chronic - he could be a force even if limited to a rotational/under-15 touches-a-game type role, this is an excellent addition, Ryan-Gurley-Jones-Ridley is a scary thought for opposing DCs) 

Need #5: Linebacker

Notable Free Agents: 

  • De'Vondre Campbell (led the team in tackles in 2019, possesses the athletic ability to go sideline to sideline, there are occasional inconsistencies - especially in coverage - but he has been a key member of the defense) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Deion Jones (among the Falcon's top defensive players, makes his presence felt whenever he's on the field, has the speed to go to the sideline to sideline and is excellent in coverage, signed a 4-year extension in 2019)
  • Foyesade Oluokun (2018 6th rounder, stated 7 games as a rookie and 3 in 2019, has tackled well but struggled in coverage, good athlete, could play a significant role if Campbell leaves)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address: 

  • The Falcons will need to bring in competition for Oluokun if Campbell leaves. Depth also needs to be addressed. 

Updates:

  • Signed Deone Bucannon (former 1st round pick, LB/S hybrid type player, did not see much action in NY last season, offers the speed Quinn looks for in LBs) 
  • Drafted in 4th Round: Mykal Walker (intriguing prospect - played ILB and EDGE at Fresno State, very statistically productive - 24 TFLs over the past 2 seasons, tested well at the Combine - but on-field movement can be choppy, coverage ability is not considered a strength, best when going down-hill, will start career on special teams)

Need #6: Cornerback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson (went from 30 defensive snaps in 2018 to over 300 in 2019 - even made 2 starts, quality of play was decent, historically has been a solid special teams player, at 30 years old he's kind of old for a depth role but the value he displayed last season makes a return likely) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Desmond Trufant (very solid starting CB - missed some games last season, but generally a durable and reliable veteran player) 
  • Isaiah Oliver (2018 2nd rounder, gave up a lot of plays and committed too many penalties in the first half of the 2019 season - but showed improvement in the 2nd half, led the team with 11 PBUs, has the talent to be a CB1 - but he needs to take a big step forward in 2020) 
  • Kendall Sheffield (2019 4th round pick, largely struggled across 11 starts as a rookie - both in coverage and run support, but like Oliver  - he does have the talent to develop into a quality starting-caliber corner) 
  • Jordan Miller (2019 6th rounder, saw minimal action as a rookie, will miss the first 3 games of the 2020 season due to a PED suspension,  entered the league as an athletic developmental prospect) 

Need Level: Moderate 

Need to Address:

  • The Falcon's secondary improved as the 2019 season wore on - but ultimately ranked among the worst in football.  In terms of need - the Falcons could begin the process of replacing Tufrant (he's 29 years old and carries a sizeable cap number), they should also add depth to push young players like Oliver and Sheffield - who they need to emerge as reliable starting options in 2020.

Updates:

  • Released Desmond Trufant 
  • Resigned Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  • Drafted in 1st Round: AJ Terrell (a key member of Clemson's excellent defense - 2 years of full-time starting experience, checks boxes in terms of size and athletic ability, plays with good technique, patience, and instinct, tape is solid but he does not necessarily pop/stand-out, only 6 career INTs, draft stock fell after he was ruthlessly and routinely burned by LSU's Ja'Marr Chase in the Title game)
  • Signed Darqueze Dennard (solid training camp signing, has yet to live up to 1st round billing but has a considerable amount of starting experience, provides nice depth and could compete for starting job)

Need #7: Interior Offensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • Wes Schweitzer (versatile backup IOL, 36 career starts - including 7 in 2019) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Alex Mack (not quite as dominant as he once was - but still a top 10 center, will be 35 in November and is on the last year of his contract - so he is not a long-term option) 
  • Chris Lindstrom (2019 1st rounder, broke his foot in Week 1 but returned in Week 13 - played very well over the final 4 games of the season, if he can pick up where he left off - many Pro Bowls could be in his future) 
  • James Carpenter (2019 free agent signing, made 11 rather disappointing starts at left guard, though injuries may have influenced the underwhelming performance) 
  • Jamon Brown (was below-average across 9 2019 starts) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons could stand to upgrade left guard. They also need to begin preparing for life after Alex Mack. 

Updates:

  • Signed Justin McCray (reserve OL, was ineffective across 5 starts in CLE last year, but offers OT/OG versatility) 
  • Drafted in 3rd Round: Matt Hennessy (agile center - excellent on the move, 3-year starter at Temple, plays with advanced technique and patience, lacks ideal length and needs to get stronger/bigger, has starter upside and could factor into the competition at left guard as a rookie, great value in round 3) 
  • Released Jamon Brown (Hennessy has apparently won the starting job at right guard)

Need #8: Special Teams

Notable Free Agents:

  • Younghoe Koo (ERFA, joined the team in OCT - converted 23 of 26 FGs and 15 of 16 XPs, also had onside kick success, was not a reliable kicker before joining the team - but his strong performance in ATL makes him the favorite to handle kicking duties in 2020)
  • Ryan Allen (did not impress over 8 game stretch at punter in 2019 - lousy 37.5 net average) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • None

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons will almost certainly retain and move forward with Koo at kicker. But will need to find an upgrade at punter. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Younghoe Koo
  • Resigned Ryan Allen 
  • Drafted in 7th Round: Sterling Hofrichter (highly decorated punter - had an excellent career at Syracuse, can also handle kickoffs,  converted 3 of 4 FG attempts - including a 52 yarder, should be an upgrade at punter - and could possibly compete at kicker) 
  • Released Ryan Allen (Hofrichter is now locked-in at punter)

Need #9: Wide Receiver

Notable Free Agents:

  • Justin Hardy (long-time WR4, reliable role-player and special teams contributor, though team may look for a higher-upside/developmental option to fill those roles in 2020) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Julio Jones (the league's top example of a WR1, production continues to be excellent, when he's fully healthy there is not a CB in football who can cover him, getting older but has shown obvious signs of decline, he's signed through the 2023 season) 
  • Calvin Ridley (one of the league's top WR2s - probably would've eclipsed the 75 catch, 1,000 yard, 10 TD mark - had he not gone on IR with 3 games remaining, for his career he's caught 17 TDs in 15 starts, Jones-Ridley is one hell of a WR duo) 
  • Russell Gage (2018 6th rounder, quietly emerged as a solid contributor after the Sanu trade and Ridley injury, does not have the explosive talent of Jones or Ridley, should be in the WR3 mix in 2020) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons need to increase the depth and competition behind Jones and Ridley. 

Updates:

  • Signed Laquon Treadwell (former 1st round pick, was a borderline bust in Minnesota - 2 total TDs in 4 seasons, only caught 9 passes in 2019, at 25 years old he still possess some theoretical upside, he was a big-time SEC playmaker at Ole Miss) 

Need #10: Safety

Notable Free Agents:

  • Kemal Ishmael (special teams ace, provides depth at safety) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Keanu Neal (2016 1st rounder, career got off to an excellent start - was a key member of the NFC title-winning ATL defense as a rookie, and made the Pro Bowl in 2017... but injuries have derailed his career since then - he tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2018 season and tore his Achilles in Week 3 of the 2019 season, hopefully he will fully recover and return to his status as one of the team's most dynamic and impactful defensive players)
  • Ricardo Allen (had a breakout/Pro Bowl season in 2017, but essentially missed the entire 2018 season with an ACL tear, he was able to return and start all 16 games in 2019 - but his performance was not up to the standard he set in 2017 - though he was playing through a shoulder injury late in the season, he's a 2021 FA) 
  • Damontae Kazee (2017 5th rounder, injuries to both Neal and Allen has led to substantial playing time over the past two seasons - which has allowed him to demonstrate his skill in coverage - he intercepted a league-leading 7 passes in 2018, was briefly moved to slot CB in 2019 - but had to return to safety after Neal got injured - and once again he played well - especially in coverage, with essentially two seasons of high-quality of play - he has arguably more of a claim to a starting job than Neal/Allen)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Falcon's can no longer count on the 2017-caliber of play they got from both Neal and Allen. While Kazee has proven to be a more than capable backup (and could start in 2020) - some more depth is sorely needed. 

Updates:

  • Drafted in 4th Round: Jaylinn Hawkins (somewhat productive 3-year starter at CAL, a lack of speed limits his ability in coverage, and while he is a physical tackler - he gets undisciplined with technique at times, projects as a box safety at the next level) 

Need #11: Quarterback

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Matt Ryan (top 10 QB, numbers were down from 2018 - but o-line and running game were a mess and deserve most of the blame, while he will likely never again reach 2016-season MVP status - in large part because Shanahan isn't around anymore - Ryan is still a top tier QB, though at age 35 a decline is becoming more likely with each passing year) 
  • Matt Schaub (will be 39 in June, in his only 2019 start he threw for a mind-blowing 460 yards against a good Seattle defense, he's experienced as a backup QB can be - and apparently still has a lively arm, obviously does not offer long-term upside - but is a capable option if he needs to fill-in for a few games) 
  • Kurt Benkert (2018 UDFA, spent his rookie year on the practice squad and last season on IR, he's shown some upside in very limited preseason appearances) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons could consider investing a Day 2 or 3 pick in a developmental QB to ease the post-Ryan transition.  

Need #12: Offensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • John Wetzel (versatile OT/OG backup) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Jake Matthews (one of the league's better LTs - he's very consistent and durable - has started 95 of 96 possible games since entering the league in 2014, at 28 years-old and signed to a long-term contract he should be protecting the left side for years to come)  
  • Kaleb McGary (2019 1st rounder, started all 16 games at RT, overall his rookie season was very messy - he allowed way too many sacks - but there were signs of improvement as the year wore on, a big step-up will be expected in 2020)
  • Ty Sambrailo (made 4 starts in 2018 and played well - especially at RT, the team signed him to a nice 3-year extension in 2019 but then drafted McGary to start at RT - relegating Sambrailo back to the bench, he's probably the highest-paid swing tackle in football - which could make him an offseason cut candidate) 

Need Level: Low

Need to Address:

  • The Falcons are set long-term at LT and will certainly continue to give McGary an opportunity at RT. The only need could be at swing tackle - if the team chooses to cut Sambrailo. 

Updates:

  • Released Ty Sambrailo  
  • Resigned John Wetzel