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Friday, April 12, 2013
Atlanta draft needs by the numbers

By Pat Yasinskas

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information have put out a list of draft needs and by-the-numbers reasons for them. Let’s take a look at the four NFC South teams.

The needs are listed as tight end, defensive end and cornerback.

Getting an eventual successor for tight end Tony Gonzalez might be a priority. Last season, Gonzalez played 1,102 snaps, including the postseason. The rest of Atlanta’s tight ends played 273 snaps. Gonzalez was targeted 138 times and produced 107 receptions and 10 touchdowns. The rest of Atlanta’s tight ends were targeted 11 times and came up with nine catches and one touchdown reception.

Even after signing defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the Falcons might want to add another pass-rusher up front. Over the past three seasons, John Abraham, who was released in March, recorded 28.5 sacks in situations where the Falcons sent four or fewer pass-rushers. In that same time, no other Atlanta defensive end recorded more than eight sacks as part of a four-man rush.

The Falcons allowed an NFL-low five touchdowns on passes outside the painted numbers last season. But Dunta Robinson, who played more snaps than any Atlanta cornerback, and Brent Grimes, who missed most of last season with an injury, have moved on to other teams.