TEAM NEEDS


Updated on April 16, 2004

Quarterbacks: The team saw this position as a glaring deficiency when starting Michael Vick missed the first 11 games due to an ankle injury. Both backups Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner floundered, so the team made it an off-season priority to add a veteran reserve. Ty Detmer was signed because of his experience and knowledge of the offense, but has not thrown a pass since January 2002. The team would prefer to add another veteran reserve, but if the right player in the draft is available, they could pull the trigger in the middle rounds.

Running Backs: Running back is fine with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett platooning for another year. Dunn is coming off an injury he suffered when he was playing at his best since his Pro Bowl season in 2001. If he can return to form is unknown. T.J. Duckett flashed some things last year, but has yet to put it all together. He's not as good a fit in the new West Coast offense as Dunn is, so there is some concern. The team replaced Travis Jervey with James Fenderson. But it would not be shocking at all if the team tried to add a rookie back late in the draft, since neither Dunn nor Duckett are viewed as long term solutions. Dunn due to the cap and Duckett because he's a poor fit.

Fullbacks: Justin Griffith emerged as a rookie, proving that he's a capable offensive performer. His blocking improved as the season wore on, but he's still not considered to be a good lead blocker. The team brought George Layne back for what seems like an annual thing to provide some more power as a blocker. It's doubtful the team will address this position since both are young and improving.

Wide Receivers: Peerless Price was not as good as advertised, but part of that is because of the poor play at quarterback. With the new offense, his vertical abilities won't be as highlighted anymore. Also Brian Finneran has yet to solidify the other starting spot, which was a main reason the team added Dez White in free agency. But White is no star, and has battled through inconsistency in Chicago as well. For all these reasons, the team would love to come away from this draft with a player that is a better fit in the offense than Price, but is a much bigger playmaker than either White or Finneran. Depth is decent since Jimmy Farris proved he can play in a pinch. Terrence Edwards showed things last summer, but injuries and youth kept him out of the lineup. The team will draft a wideout for no other purpose than to boost depth, but it will definitely have its eye for a future starter.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler went to the Pro Bowl in his first year as the full-time starter. Crumpler has shown he is a reliable receiver and could see his numbers jump this year with a new pass-oriented offense. Depth was boosted with the addition of Hunter Goodwin. Goodwin offers little as a receiver, but is a top blocker. Sean Brewer is also more known for his blocking than receiving, but has unable to get on the field in three years in the league. The team may also try to add a pass catcher in the middle or late rounds of the draft, considering that they lack any receiving threat on the bench and Crumpler is entering his contract year. Getting a solid pass catcher adds insurance in case Crumpler's salary demands get too high next off-season.

Offensive Tackles: The team is expected to see some change here although last year's incumbent starters: Kevin Shaffer and Todd Weiner, should remain unchanged. Bob Whitfield is expected to return at this point, but only as a reserve. He might still get the ax in June, but that will likely depend on if the team can add another tackle in the draft. It is definitely an area the team would like to address since neither Shaffer nor Weiner have proven that they can function in Alex Gibb's blocking schemes. Although both should do fine, the team may want to add some insurance in case either gets out to a slow start.

Offensive Guards: This position might see two new starters this year. The team added free agents Eric Beverly and Steve Herndon. Neither are studs, but have proven capable of being starters in the NFL. Both those players will likely get work at left guard, while Kynan Forney continues to man the right side. Martin Bibla, who played well in two starts last year will push Forney. The team would like to add a guard in the draft, since it's unknown if any of the current players are going to be effective long-term. Forney and Herndon are both free agents following this year, plus Beverly has never been a consistent starter, and Bibla is still relatively unproven.

Centers: Todd McClure will return and it means that Roberto Garza's days in Atlanta are numbered. Beverly has proven he can play center, and Garza has not gotten much work at the position in his three seasons as a Falcon. The team could find itself drafting a center late in the draft for depth and to try and light a fire under Garza. But it's not a need, since both Beverly and Bibla can play here in a pinch.

Defensive Ends: The team wants to add a top pass rusher on the outside, and will likely be targetting a top speed rusher in the draft. Patrick Kerney should see his production rebound after a down '03 season now that the team is returning to the 4-3. In 2001, the last time the team employed the defense he had a career-high 12 sacks. Brady Smith is the other starter and is capable, but is not a consistent factor as a pass rusher. The team would prefer to have a better player to spell him on third downs. Two options are former linebackers Will Overstreet and Karon Riley. Both played end in college, but moved to linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Both are good pass rushers, but it's unknown if they will be able to hit the ground running at end, since they haven't play there in two seasons. But the team will definitely try to add an end in the draft. Smith is unlikely to return in 2005, so if they can find a quality potential starter in the early rounds, they will likely pull the trigger.

Defensive Tackles: The team added Rod Coleman in the off-season, and even with the potential retirement and/or holdout of Ellis Johnson this summer, teh team is adequate with Coleman, incumbent starter Ed Jasper, and holdover Travis Hall as their top three tackles. But considering none of those four players are young guys, the team will likely target a defensive tackle in the draft that can also help the rotation and eventually develop into a starter further down the line.

Outside Linebackers: The team would like to upgrade in speed over Matt Stewart and Chris Draft. Both players have proven to be reliable, albeit unspectacular starters in the past and both should benefit with a return to the 4-3 defense. Keith Newman also returns and might be able to add some things as a pass rusher. Eric Johnson was added, and brings speed and ability on special teams. Although it's not a major need, the team wants to draft a quick weakside guy early in the draft. Also if the right player is there, the team will also try to get a more athletic strongside linebacker as well.

Inside Linebackers: Keith Brooking is the man in the middle, but depth is lacking since Artie Ulmer is the top backup. Terrence Robinson and Terrence Melton are camp bodies at this point. Draft could play here, but that is contingent on someone emerging on the outside, so it's doubtful he'll get many reps here. Depth is likely to be addressed in the latter rounds, as the team will likely target a more physical presence against the run than Brooking.

Cornerbacks: This position is a major need for the team. Although they added free agents Jason Webster and Aaron Beasley, neither are considered to be more than marginal to average starters. Tod McBride returns, but he's more of a nickel back than starter. Derek Ross is the big question mark. He has the talent to start, but has underachieved thus far in two years in the league. If he can emerge soon, the unit will be great boosted. But the team will likely try its best to add a quality cover man in the early rounds of the draf.

Safeties: Bryan Scott is the lone bright spot here after playing pretty well for a rookie over the second half of the season. Cory Hall battled through injuries most of the year and was nothing to write home about. Because of that, the team would likel to add a free safety in the draft that can push or supplant Hall as the starter. Keion Carpenter and Kevin McCadam return as reserves, but both are limited starters.

Kickers: Feely is back, but he's on the bubble. Although it's doubtful the team will try to add anybody significant to push him, the team is keeping a watchful eye on him. He's been decent, but unreliable in the clutch.

Punters: Mohr's '03 season was not as solid as his 2002, but it was still fairly decent. His leg strength has long disappeared, but in the Georgia Dome, it is his accuracy and hangtime that are most important. The team added some young roster fillers to push him, and that's likely to be the only significant additions at this position.


RECENT TRADES

(since 1997)

1997

1998

1999

2001

2002

2003

2004


RECENT PICKS

since 1994, when NFL went to 7-round format
Quarterbacks
Rnd.
Overall
Year
College
Current
NFL Team*
Total
G/GS*
w/ Falcons
G/GS*
Tony Graziani
7
204
1997
Oregon
none
17/6
17/6
Kurt Kittner
5
158
2002
Illinois
Atlanta
7/4
7/4
Perry Klein
4
111
1994
C.W. Post
none
2/0
2/0
Matt Schaub
3
90
2004
Virginia
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Michael Vick
1
1
2001
Virginia Tech
Atlanta
28/21
28/21
Running Backs
Jamal Anderson
7
201
1994
Utah
none
89/64
89/64
T.J. Duckett
1
18
2002
Michigan State
Atlanta
28/13
28/13
Justin Griffith
4
121
2003
Mississippi State
Atlanta
16/11
16/11
Byron Hanspard
2
41
1997
Texas Tech
none
28/5
28/5
Richard Huntley
4
117
1996
Winston-Salem State
none
63/12
1/0
Ken Oxendine
7
201
1998
Virginia Tech
none
21/8
21/8
Jeff Paulk
3
92
1999
Arizona State
none
2/0
1/0
Quincy Wilson
7
219
2004
West Virginia
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Wide Receivers
Eugene Baker
5
164
1999
Kent State
Carolina
4/1
3/1
Mike Coleman
7
217
2002
Widener
St. Louis
0/0
0/0
LaTarence Dunbar
6
196
2003
Texas Christian
Atlanta
5/0
5/0
Tim Dwight
4
114
1998
Iowa
San Diego
73/28
38/9
Bert Emanuel
2
45
1994
Rice
none
103/87
62/61
Jammi German
3
74
1998
Miami (Fla.)
none
35/0
29/0
Kahlil Hill
6
184
2002
Iowa
San Francisco
1/0
1/0
Harrison Houston
5
138
1994
Florida
none
0/0
0/0
Michael Jenkins
1
29
2004
Ohio State
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Quentin McCord
7
236
2001
Kentucky
Detroit
25/2
25/2
Rondel Menendez
7
247
1999
Eastern Kentucky
none
0/0
0/0
Jon Olinger
5
159
2003
Cincinnati
Carolina
0/0
0/0
Mareno Philyaw
6
172
2000
Troy State
none
1/0
1/0
Roell Preston
5
145
1995
Mississippi
none
52/2
29/2
Vinny Sutherland
5
136
2001
Purdue
none
16/0
0/0
Tight Ends
Alge Crumpler
2
35
2001
North Carolina
Atlanta
48/37
48/37
Reggie Kelly
2
42
1999
Mississippi State
Cincinnati
74/58
62/47
O.J. Santiago
3
70
1997
Kent State
Oakland
78/60
41/41
Offensive Linemen
Martin Bibla
4
116
2002
Miami (Fla.)
Atlanta
20/2
20/2
Ethan Brooks
7
229
1996
Williams
Baltimore
61/19
2/0
Travis Claridge
2
37
2000
Southern California
Carolina
52/49
52/49
Calvin Collins
6
180
1997
Texas A&M
Denver
68/56
61/53
Kynan Forney
7
219
2001
Hawaii
Atlanta
42/36
42/36
Roberto Garza
4
99
2001
Texas A&M-Kingsville
Atlanta
20/12
20/12
Bob Hallen
2
53
1998
Kent State
none
75/44
59/31
Alai Kalaniuvalu
3
99
1994
Oregon State
none
0/0
0/0
Todd McClure
7
237
1999
LSU
Atlanta
56/54
56/54
Ephraim Salaam
7
199
1998
San Diego State
Jacksonville
90/85
60/55
Kevin Shaffer
7
245
2002
Tulsa
Atlanta
22/8
22/8
Michael Thompson
4
100
2000
Tennessee State
none
12/4
12/4
Defensive Linemen
Shannon Brown
3
84
1996
Alabama
none
0/0
0/0
John Burrough
7
245
1995
Wyoming
none
89/14
64/5
Nathan Davis
2
32
1997
Indiana
none
6/0
2/0
Ron Flemons
7
226
2001
Texas A&M
Miami
4/0
4/0
Randy Garner
6
167
2001
Arkansas
none
0/0
0/0
Travis Hall
6
181
1995
Brigham Young
Atlanta
119/91
119/91
Patrick Kerney
1
30
1999
Virginia
Atlanta
80/66
80/66
Chad Lavalais
5
142
2004
LSU
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Will Overstreet
3
80
2002
Tennessee
Atlanta
6/2
6/2
Henry Slay
7
203
1998
West Virgnia
none
3/0
0/0
Demetrin Veal
7
238
2003
Tennessee
Atlanta
3/0
3/0
Linebackers
Gary Bandy
5
164
1996
Baylor
none
0/0
0/0
Keith Brooking
1
12
1998
Georgia Tech
Atlanta
81/66
81/66
Henri Crockett
4
100
1997
Florida State
Minnesota
103/88
73/62
Mitch Davis
4
118
1994
Georgia
none
0/0
0/0
Jeff Kelly
6
198
1999
Kansas State
none
28/7
28/7
Craig Sauer
6
188
1996
Minnesota
none
73/11
64/11
Mark Simoneau
3
67
2000
Kansas State
Philadelphia
61/25
45/9
Matt Stewart
4
102
2001
Vanderbilt
Atlanta
47/29
47/29
Lorenzo Styles
3
77
1995
Ohio State
none
70/8
28/0
Demorrio Williams
4
101
2004
Nebraska
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Cornerbacks
Juran Bolden
4
127
1996
Mississippi Delta CC
Jacksonville
66/15
50/15
Michael Booker
1
11
1997
Nebraska
none
73/10
42/10
Ron Davis
2
41
1995
Tennessee
none
12/5
12/5
DeAngelo Hall
1
8
2004
Virginia Tech
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Anthony Midget
5
134
2000
Virginia Tech
none
0/0
0/0
Anthony Phillips
3
72
1994
Texas A&M-Kingsville
none
20/9
18/9
Bryan Scott
2
55
2003
Penn State
Atlanta
16/7
16/7
Darrick Vaughn
7
211
2000
SW Texas State
Houston
48/0
32/0
Elijah Williams
6
166
1998
Florida
none
50/5
50/5
Safeties
Waine Bacon
6
202
2003
Alabama
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Chris Bayne
7
222
1997
Fresno State
none
23/0
23/0
Omar Brown
4
103
1998
North Carolina
none
15/0
15/0
Devin Bush
1
26
1995
Florida State
none
116/71
56/36
Johndale Carty
4
126
1999
Utah State
none
62/3
62/3
Corey Hall
7
215
2001
Appalachian State
none
3/0
3/0
Kevin McCadam
5
148
2002
Virginia Tech
Atlanta
23/4
23/4
Etric Pruitt
6
186
2004
Southern Miss
Atlanta
0/0
0/0
Eric Thigpen
6
200
1999
Iowa
none
0/0
0/0
Marcus Wimberly
5
133
1997
Miami (Fla.)
none
6/0
6/0

* denotes that the games played and started and current team are as of April 27, 2004.

Back to Features | Home