National

NFL Draft primer: Falcons really, really need to address their defense

2023 record: 7-10, missed playoffs

Draft picks per round

1st Round: No. 82nd Round: No. 433rd Round: No. 743rd Round: No. 79 (from Jaguars)4th Round: No. 1095th Round: No. 1436th Round: No. 1876th Round: No. 197 (from Browns)

Top needs

EDGECornerbackOffensive lineDefensive lineWide receiver

The Falcons’ big move in free agency was signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal. They also added speed to their receiver corps with multiple signings. Though the Falcons have a "best player available" mantra, there’s still major needs on defense, and whatever new head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson do with Cousins and the offense will have limited impact until the Falcons can be competent on the other side of the ball.

Best first-round fits

Dallas Turner, EDGE, AlabamaTerrion Arnold, CB, AlabamaQuinyon Mitchell, CB, ToledoGraham Barton, OL, Duke

Best Day 2 fits

Maason Smith, DT, LSUChristian Haynes, OL, UConnCooper Beebe, OL, Kansas StateJermaine Burton, WR, Alabama

How they did last draft

The Falcons earned a B-minus last year and that grade seems OK considering a handful of those players are in play to be long-term fixtures for the team. Running back Bijan Robinson, guard Matthew Bergeron and cornerback Clark Phillips will be a big part of their immediate and, potentially, long-term future.

Dream fantasy draft pick

Atlanta's fantasy outlooks can be written in ink now — the Falcons stocked the fridge with fun skill talent over the past three drafts, and Kirk Cousins arrived in March to finally fill the quarterback chair. Darnell Mooney was also a key add, giving the team a critical WR2 to support Drake London. Perhaps Atlanta will take an upside swing at an offensive player in the second or third day of the draft, but the early picks later this month will not be tied to immediate fantasy prospects. Most mocks expect the Falcons to target an edge rusher in the first round, with Alabama's Dallas Turner an obvious fit. — Scott Pianowski