2011 NFL Mock Draft: Atlanta Falcons

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It's almost that time of year, when owners, coaches, general managers, and the rest of the front office lock themselves in a room and heavily debate which players to draft to improve the team.  This room is called the "War Room" for a reason.  Everyone in this room is heavily opinionated and has become attached to a prospect that they don't believe the team can do without.

In this segment, we will put ourselves in the war room and go over the picks we believe teams need to make when they're on the clock.  We'll cover all 32 teams, but today's segment is dedicated to the: Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons have the offensive skill positions filled. Matt Ryan is the quarterback; Michael Turner is the running back; and Roddy White is the top receiver. Tony Gonzalez is still a very good tight end, but he won't be playing for much longer. Finding a replacement for Gonzalez is a need, but not an extremely urgent one that I expect Atlanta to address early. They could also look to add a running back in the draft to preserve Turner for the long haul. Finding a receiver to draw some attention away from White is also an important need and one the Falcons could look to address early. Looking for an offensive tackle isn't out of the question, either.

Defensively, the biggest need is a pass rusher. John Abraham can't do it all and he'll be 33 in May. There is good depth at defensive end this year and the Falcons should be able to get a very good pass rusher whether they use the 27th pick in the first round or the 59th overall pick in the second round. They could also look to upgrade the cornerback spot in this year's draft.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Round 1 (#27): Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami Hurricanes: I love this pick. Hankerson would make a very good number two wide receiver opposite Roddy White. He's the third best receiver in this draft if you ask me (behind A.J. Green and Julio Jones) and is flying a bit under the radar. There's the possibility that the Falcons go with the best pass rusher available (Georgia's Justin Houston has been a popular pick for Atlanta in mock drafts) and wait until Round 2 to go receiver, but Hankerson probably won't be available when Atlanta picks next.

Round 2 (#59): Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas Longhorns: Acho would play defensive end for the Falcons, but he's a guy mentioned as a hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker.  He recorded eight sacks in each of his last two seasons with the Longhorns and should give Abraham some much needed help in the pass rush.

Round 3 (#91): Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville Cardinals: Patrick would give the Falcons a talented young corner to shore up the pass defense that must face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints twice a year.

Round 4 (#124): Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson: Adding depth to the offensive line is likely a goal for Atlanta on the third day.

Round 5 (#158): Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh Panthers: This is a dream scenario for the Falcons. Given how Lewis has looked this offseason leading up to the draft, he could be long gone by the time Atlanta picks for the fifth time. However, if he's available, Atlanta would be wise to snatch him up. He would help spell some of the wear and tear on Turner, and the two would form quite the backfield duo to take a lot of heat off of the passing game.

Round 6 (#186) from Detroit via Philadelphia and Tampa Bay: Weslye Saunders, TE, South Carolina Gamecocks: With Detroit forfeiting its seventh round pick, the Chris Houston deal could net the Falcons a sixth rounder instead of a seventh rounder. Once considered a top tight end prospect, Saunders could fall into the later rounds of the draft after sitting out the 2010 season for lying to NCAA investigators looking into the agent scandal at North Carolina. He missed the Combine after he was injured while warming up for the drills. Somebody is going to take a chance on him, though. Why not the Falcons?

Round 6 (#192): Adrian Moten, OLB, Maryland Terrapins: The Falcons could look to upgrade or bolster the linebacker corps in the latter part of the draft. Mike Peterson will be 35 in June and the Falcons could look at a guy like Moten to take over opposite Sean Weatherspoon, last year's first round pick.

Round 7 (#228): Tejay Johnson, SS, TCU Horned Frogs: Johnson was the Frogs' third leading tackler and led the team with three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, in 2010.  The Falcons could look at Johnson, who was a team leader at TCU, to add depth to the safety position.

Round 7 (#229): Aldrick Robinson, WR, Southern Methodist Mustangs: Robinson was the man at SMU, collecting 1,301 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. He ran well at the Combine (4.43) and could play the slot in the NFL.

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