The NFL draft is here, and the Atlanta Falcons are primed to make some noise. The team has a lot of holes it needs to fill with players who fit its system. With only five picks in the upcoming draft, all eyes will be focused on who Atlanta takes at each spot during Thursday night’s first round.

The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of needs to fill, but the most important are at the running back position. The top 5 players they must target are Devonta Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson. Read more in detail here: atlanta falcons logo.

Ranking the 5 Players the Atlanta Falcons Must Target

The Atlanta Falcons concluded the 2021 season 7-10, good for third place in the NFC South. After a 4-12 season in 2020, first-year head coach Arthur Smith began his career with a losing season, but it was a step in the right direction.

Atlanta currently has numerous serious issues to address throughout the summer. The Falcons are in serious need of skill on both sides of the ball, and NFL free agency should provide them with plenty of alternatives. However, the team’s main challenge will be its financial situation. The front office and general manager Terry Fontenot are above the pay limit by more than $6.5 million.

In order to boost their squad in free agency, the Falcons will have to restructure their roster. Once the period begins, these guys should be on their radar.

Falcons NFL free agency targets Mike Williams and Haason Reddick in action

Falcons NFL free agency targets Mike Williams and Haason Reddick in action The Los Angeles Chargers’ Mike Williams in action against the Philadelphia Eagles | Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images ; Carolina Panthers’ Haason Reddick fights the Washington Football Team | John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Free agents Cordarrelle Patterson and Russell Gage Jr. of the Falcons were given honorable mention.

In the offseason, the Atlanta Falcons will definitely address the wide receiver position. Calvin Ridley’s future status is still unknown, and his absence limits the offense’s potential.

Up 2021, Russell Gage Jr. stepped in admirably, catching 66 catches for 770 yards and four touchdowns. In a hybrid position with the Falcons, Cordarrelle Patterson had a breakthrough season. He played running back and wide receiver at the same time. Patterson had 618 running yards, 548 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns in total.

Patterson’s flexibility will make him a sought-after free agent in the NFL, but the Falcons must do everything possible to keep him. Gage, on the other hand, will undoubtedly be more inexpensive.

5. San Francisco 49ers’ Laken Tomlinson (G)

The Falcons’ front staff seemed to have attempted to bolster the offensive line via the draft, but the squad suffered miserably in 2021. One of the major concerns should be to address the inside. Atlanta’s interior offensive line was ranked 29th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus for the 2021 season.

In his first season, Jalen Mayfield battled severely. He’s still young and has time to grow, but considering the hype coming out of Michigan, his struggles were frightening. Laken Tomlinson could come in and immediately help this offensive line. In 2021, the experienced left lineman only allowed two sacks and seven quarterback hits.

Over the last four seasons, the San Francisco 49ers left guard has been as dependable as they come, starting every game. Adding a reliable and experienced veteran to the mix may be a huge step forward for Atlanta’s offense.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette

The Falcons will be desperate for running back assistance if Cordarrelle Patterson departs. In NFL free agency, Leonard Fournette is the best player available at the position. Over the last two seasons, the fifth-year tailback has been an important element of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ attack.

Fournette is well-known in Atlanta, where he plays in the NFC South. He just finished a season in which he ran for 812 yards and eight touchdowns on 180 attempts. He also has a total of 69 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns. With the Falcons, his extensive role in the passing offense would be beneficial.

Fournette would be a major improvement over Mike Davis, who did not perform as effectively as the club had hoped. Because Matt Ryan isn’t getting any younger, having a good backfield behind him would help relieve some of the strain on the veteran quarterback.

New Orleans Saints’ S Marcus Williams is ranked third.

Best DB draft selections in each round over the previous decade, according to PFF WAR

1 Jaire Alexander, Packers 2 Marcus Williams, Saints 3 Jamel Dean, Buccaneers 4 Eddie Jackson, Bears 5 Richard Sherman, Seahawks 6 Xavier Woods, Cowboys 7 TJ Carrie, Raiders pic.twitter.com/vKdnWSDarT

— PFF (@PFF) April 27, 2021

The Falcons’ defense has significant holes, particularly in the secondary. With 232.4 passing yards per game, the unit wasn’t as awful as it seemed. The squad, on the other hand, needs to improve its defensive backfield. Cornerback A.J. Terrell should be the only guy guaranteed a slot.

Another familiar figure might be brought in to help Atlanta’s defense. Marcus Williams, a safety for the New Orleans Saints, has come a long way since his NFL debut in 2017. During the 2021 season, the Utah product has 74 tackles, eight passes defensed, and two interceptions.

The Saints chose to utilize the franchise tag on Williams last season and might do so again this season. Despite the fact that it would be in their best interests to keep him long-term, there’s a chance the club may let him go. If that’s the case, the Falcons should take advantage of the opportunity to sign him.

2. Carolina Panthers’ Haason Reddick, OLB

Dante Fowler Jr. was just released, emphasizing Atlanta’s need for pass rushers. With just 18 sacks during the season, the Falcons finished dead last in the NFL in team sacks. That’s a terrible score, and it’s difficult to win in today’s game with a score like that.

In NFL free agency, Haason Reddick might be a top target for Arthur Smith’s team. With 4.5 sacks, Fowler led the team. In 2021, the Carolina Panthers edge rusher had 11 sacks. He also had 18 quarterback hits and 33 quarterback pressures.

Pass rushing and pass defense are inextricably linked. The Falcons’ secondary, like the front seven, is devoid of top quality. By bringing in Reddick, this unit would become a serious danger to opposing quarterbacks. It would be fascinating to see whether Atlanta can provide him with a decent salary.

1. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams

Even if the Atlanta Falcons are able to keep Cordarrelle Patterson or Russell Gage Jr., the wide receiver position should be targeted in NFL free agency. The front office can’t afford to ignore it now that Calvin Ridley’s fate for 2022 is undetermined.

Mike Williams is expected to be one of the most sought-after wide receivers this summer. In 2021, the receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers caught 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. Williams had his most productive season to date, which could result in a slew of suitors once free agency begins.

Clemson’s product is a big-bodied playmaker who excels in contested catches in red-zone scenarios. He’s also shown a willingness to extend the field. The Falcons need more playmakers on offense, and if given the chance, Williams may be that for Matt Ryan.

Pro Football Reference provided all numbers, while Spotrac provided contract statistics.

RELATED: 5 Best Destinations for Juju Smith-Schuster in the 2022 NFL Free Agency

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