With former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn installed as the new head coach for a team that finished dead last in defense in 2014, the expectation is that the Falcons will address the defensive side of the ball with the eighth overall pick. Diving deeper into the Falcons' struggles on defense in 2014, the team finished 32nd in yards allowed per play, yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per play and per game and in third-down defense. On the plus side, they finished tied for 30th with 22 sacks.
So the pass rush is a problem and luckily there are a few options on the board for Scott Pioli, the former Chiefs general manager who is now calling the shots in the Falcons' draft room. Missouri's Shane Ray (6-3, 245), Kentucky's Bud Dupree (6-4, 269) and Randy Gregory (6-5, 235) are the top of the remaining class in this scenario. Though the Falcons signed pass rushers Adrian Clayborn and Brooks Reed in free agency, Quinn could still use a shiny new "LEO" for his Seahawks-proxy defense. Ray and Dupree are probably the likeliest of the three options.
Up front, the Falcons signed both Tyson Jackson (Pioli's first pick as general manager of the Chiefs) and Paul Soliai as free agents in 2014, but they did little to necessarily move the needle in Atlanta. Oregon's Arik Armstead could give that unit a boost. Then, on the back end, Michigan State's Trae Waynes could slot nicely in opposite former first-round pick Desmond Trufant.
Could Pioli surprise the league and go offense here? It's possible and there are a few options that could make sense for Atlanta. Former first-rounder Jake Matthews is a nice piece at left tackle but the rest of the offensive line is uninspiring. Iowa's Brandon Scherff or Stanford's Andrus Peat would be the options there.
Even with Julio Jones, the Falcons could use another receiver with Roddy White set to turn 34 during the 2015 season. Breshad Perriman and DeVante Parker could be seen as eventual replacements. Finally, with Devonta Freeman listed as the current starter at running back, Pioli could really send shockwaves by taking Todd Gurley at No. 8.