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Falcons Last Glaring Need According to NFL.com

The Atlanta Falcons had been handicapped by salary cap woes the previous two seasons under general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith.

They were forced to focus on the NFL Draft as their only method of improving the team. Fontenot and Smith have done well to with their first two drafts with potential stars like Kyle Pitts and Drake London while getting value in the later rounds like Ta’Quon Graham and Tyler Allgeier.

Free from the shackles placed on them by the previous regime, the Falcons were big players in free agency and have revamped their defense.

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Defensive linemen Calais Campbell and David Onyemata fortify the front while linebacker Kaden Elliss and edge Bud Dupree should also improve the pass rush. Atlanta spent big on safety Jessie Bates and traded for former No. 3 pick Jeff Okudah.

All in all, NFL.com predicts the Falcons could have as many as 10-new starters in 2023, but they still see one glaring hole on the roster.

Wide receiver.

The Falcons want to pound the ball on the ground, which makes perfect sense, given their coach and roster makeup. That said, wide receiver Drake London displayed flashes of tremendous upside in Year 1, and ATL is counting on a Year 2 leap. Beyond London, the WR corps screams for aid. Even if we consider tight end Kyle Pitts — who had a down, injury-abbreviated 2022 campaign — a WR type, the Falcons remain shallow. Mack Hollins is currently No. 2, coming off his only season above the 300-yard mark. Scott MillerKhaDarel Hodge and Penny Hart are the depth options. If the wideout corps remains unchanged, Desmond Ridder will use his tight ends (Pitts and Jonnu Smith) and running backs (Bijan RobinsonTyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson) a lot in the passing game. He’ll have to.

Kevin Patra, NFL.com

Patra’s not wrong about the Falcons wide receiver room when taking a quick glance at the depth chart, but he also points out just how dangerous this team can be.

No. 8 overall draft pick Bijan Robinson was so highly thought of in part because of his ability as a receiver. He took reps at slot receiver during OTAs and mini-camp.

Patterson is listed as a running back, but he was a first-round draft pick as a wide receiver and can be a weapon in the passing game as well.

Seeing the Falcons line up four-wide with Pitts and London on the outside with Robinson and Patterson in the slot and Allgeier in the backfield is a tantalizing prospect for Arthur Smith and the Atlanta Falcons.

London may be the only true wide receiver of that group, but that group includes five playmakers capable of impacting the passing game.

That wide receiver depth is considered the biggest hole on the team is testament to how much stronger the roster is.

However, we’d still argue a dominant edge rusher is still the Falcons biggest need.

The Falcons have added pass rushers from a variety of places including interior defensive line and linebacker. However at edge there is depth but no true No. 1.

Second-year pro Arnold Ebiketie has shown promise but had just 2.5 sacks last year. Lorenzo Carter hasn’t had more than five sacks in his five years in the league. Free agent Bud Dupree had 11.5 sacks with the Steelers in 2019 but just seven sacks his last two seasons with the Titans.

The Falcons still need to address the edge position. The draft hasn’t fallen their way under Fontenot to address the pass rush, and they’ve gone with offensive-skill players in the top 10 three years in a row.

The young Falcons offense looks promising heading into the season even with question marks at wide receiver. Getting a long-term answer at edge should be the priority for this team heading into 2024.

Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at Scout.com, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.