The Atlanta Falcons enter the 2012 NFL Draft with no first round selection and a limited amount of picks as it is (5), so the emphasis is going to be on making every selection count—hopefully this mock draft will reflect a few of those potential picks.
The biggest potential name-loss for Atlanta—this year—will be defensive end John Abraham, but in a small way, his exodus could wind up being a blessing in disguise if he does in fact go.
The main focus for Atlanta will be upgrading their D-line and their secondary. The Falcons' pass rush was nearly non-existent in 2011, ranking 22nd in sacks and 20th overall against the pass.
Another key area for Atlanta will be finding the right player to replace All-Pro TE Tony Gonzalez who could be playing his last year of football.
The good news is, the Falcons do have some spending cash available and I could see them reaching out to one of the many available receivers on the market if the price is right, in an effort to add another target for QB Matt Ryan.
But enough forecasting. Ready to see who Atlanta may consider?
Round 2 : Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
6'5", 265 pounds
If the Falcons do not retain John Abraham then the need for a quality end become priority number one. Now, they could find one through free agency, but that may not be the best long term answer.
What I would really love to see here is the Falcons wind up with Marshall's Vinny Curry, but I don't think he will be available in the second round.
What I do see, is a fine alternative in Chandler Jones.
This guy is just as much of a hustler as Curry is, and has a tremendous amount of size and speed which is what he relies on. In addition to his pass rushing skills, he is a fine run defender who is rarely ever "taken for a ride" or beat at the point of contact.
No matter how the Abraham situation plays out I think the Falcons target the DE position first, and they could make Jones their man.
Round 3: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
5'9", 183 pounds
Atlanta's other real issue is trying to find a near elite corner who can become an immediate impact player, and I personally think Brandon Boykin is their man.
I see a few mocks here and there placing Boykin in the fourth, but to be honest, I just don't see that happening because this guy is one of the most well rounded corners in the draft.
Boykin is a very deceptive corner who isn't afraid to play his position unlike most smaller corners. What I mean by that is, guys who round out at 5'9" or 5'10", use their speed and play away from bigger corners—not Boykin.
Boykin is lightning fast, aggressive and he's even a solid kick returner, and for all he's worth, the Falcons may seriously consider taking him here.
Round 5: Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
6'5", 252 pounds
Tony Gonzalez may be playing his last season as a professional football player, and the time is now for Atlanta to begin the search for his replacement.
While there are numerous TEs that could be available here in the fifth round, I really believe the Falcons target Egnew if he's still around.
The Falcons run a vertical passing attack and need a sizable TE who is already familiar with such a passing scheme, and Egnew is that guy.
Egnew was also used out of the two and three point stance at Mizzou, and isn't exactly the easiest guy in the world to bring down.
The bottom line here is that Egnew is a solid red-zone type TE with great down-field speed. He runs his routes in very similar fashion as wide receivers, and is a nightmare matchup for small linebackers who will be responsible for him.
Could be the best pick in the draft for them. My colleague Greg Brosh has both Egnew and my next pick Ganaway going in his Washington Redskins Mock Draft....funny how things work out like that.
Round 6: Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor
6'0", 241 pounds
The Falcons may want to begin looking around for another quality back out of the draft, but perhaps not in the way you would initially think.
The growing sentiment is that Atlanta will either try and trade Michael Turner, or at the very least, cut down his touches in favor of the 22 year old Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that Atlanta wants Rodgers more involved in 2012, particularly in the screen game—so what does this have to do with Baylor's Terrance Ganaway?
Ganaway is built like a brick you-know-what, and would be the perfect developmental running back that could help Atlanta change their approach ever so slightly.
Ganaway is the type of bruising back who runs extremely well between the tackles, and would be an exceptional goal line back for Atlanta to have, especially for depth and change of pace.
I don't think Atlanta will target a back any earlier, and Ganaway seems to be the best fit for the round and need.
Round 7: Jaymes Brooks, OG, Virginia Tech
6'2", 307 pounds
The Falcons could wait until the back end of the draft to begin searching for some much needed O-line depth, particularly at guard.
Brooks plays with a high motor, is more mobile on the line than most guards, and could be a solid compliment to the existing line in Atlanta, even as a backup.
Depth was a problem all around in Atlanta last season, so much like a few other choices here, Brooks could wind up being a solid choice for that reason.
I could also see the Falcons possibly grabbing another quarterback and leaving their search for a guard relegated to the open market. If that's the case, they could wind up looking at Boise State's Kellen Moore.
Have a player in mind you think Atlanta should target? Let me know below.