ESPN ranks Falcons' offseason: What went right, wrong? 

With free agency and the draft now complete, ESPN writer Bill Barnwell ranked every NFL team's offseason from worst to first based off the personnel moves each team made.

The Atlanta Falcons added three key players in free agency starting with tight end Hayden Hurst in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, outside linebacker Dante Fowler and running back Todd Gurley. The team also traded for former-first round pick defensive end Charles Harris who will likely be a rotational player for the Falcons.


Following free agency, the Falcons approached the draft with a goal of trying to acquire as many defensive players as possible. Four of their six draft picks were used on defensive players including first and second round picks cornerback A.J. Terrell and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson.

The Falcons could add a veteran cornerback or defensive lineman closer to training camp as coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have done in recent years.

Barnwell gave the Falcons the No. 22 spot on his list. Here's a closer look at Barnwell’s breakdown of the Falcons' offseason thus far:

"What went right: The Falcons finally acknowledged their need to rebuild on defense. Out went pass-rusher Vic Beasley Jr., cornerback Desmond Trufant, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and defensive tackle Adrian Clayborn, and they declined the fifth-year option on edge rusher Takkarist McKinley. Atlanta finally made a significant investment on an outside player by signing Dante Fowler Jr., and it used first- and second-round picks on cornerback A.J. Terrelland defensive lineman Marlon Davidson. Thomas Dimitroff's team projects to come away with one compensatory fifth-round pick and a pair of selections in the sixth round of the 2021 draft.

"What went wrong: Fowler was the only significant veteran addition this team made to that flailing defense, as Atlanta otherwise re-signed tackle Tyeler Davison and traded a seventh-round pick for Dolphins washout Charles Harris, a defensive end who went No. 22 overall in 2017. I'm worried that the Falcons might be fooled by what happened in the second half, when they allowed a league-best 25.8% conversion rate on third downs. Research has suggested that teams that grossly outplay their first- and second-down performance on third down struggle to keep that up, and while they were middle of the pack by expected points added on first and second down during the final eight weeks of the season, they were the league's best defense on third downs.

"You could argue that they didn't have the cap room to make many additions, but after cutting Devonta Freeman, they still found a way to hand Todd Gurley a one-year, $5.5 million deal. Even if Gurley returns to form and has a great season, this is the exact sort of organization that needed to focus on finding a cheap, multiyear solution at running back. The Falcons have committed serious resources to their offensive line, have a great passing game and desperately needed to save money for their defense.

"What they could have done differently: The money they committed to Gurley could have been part of an offer for someone like Jadeveon Clowney, although it would have also required Atlanta to restructure someone's contract, likely wideout Julio Jones. As it stands, the Falcons don't have the cap space to even go after a veteran edge rusher like Vinny Curry or Clay Matthews.

"What's left to do: Carve out some space for a cornerback. With plenty of veteran options still available, the Falcons project to start Terrell, Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield. They are enthused about Sheffield after his rookie season, but I'd like to see them find a couple of million dollars to bring in somebody like Darqueze Dennard or even a veteran like Brandon Carr. Releasing backup running back Brian Hill would free up $2.1 million."

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