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Atlanta Falcons 2013 Draft Preview

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - One of the NFL's most dynamic offenses is not only back in tact in Dixie, it has actually been upgraded.

Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and the best receiving duo in the game, Roddy White and Julio Jones, were always a given but by convincing future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to put off retirement for another year and replacing the descending Michael Turner with ex-Rams running back Steven Jackson, Atlanta looks poised for another big season in 2013.

Offensive tackle could be an issue, however, since Sam Baker has a history of back problems on the left side and veteran Tyson Clabo, a solid, if unspectacular player, was released. Meanwhile, Lamar Holmes, a third-round pick in 2012, is no sure thing.

Defensively things are much murkier. The aging but always productive John Abraham is gone, replaced by former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, a talented but far less consistent player. Meanwhile Troy Biermann is a high-motor player on the other side who is probably best-suited for fewer repetitions.

At linebacker the Falcons needs an upgrade over Akeem Dent inside and Sam 'backer Stephen Nicholas is just a guy. Meanwhile corner Asante Samuel is now 32 and his former running mate Brent Grimes has relocated to Miami.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has said the only way Atlanta will take a defensive end in the first round is if they can trade or if an elite one somehow falls to them, making the offensive line and the back seven on defense more likely for the ATL with the 30th overall pick.

2012 Record: 13-3

Top Needs: OL, DE, LB

First Three Picks: No. 30, No. 60, No. 92

Number of Selections: 11 (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7)

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2012 - none; 2011 - Julio Jones (WR, Alabama); 2010 - Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Missouri); 2009 - Peria Jerry (DT, Ole Miss); 2008 - Matt Ryan (QB, Boston College), Sam Baker (OT, USC); 2007 - Jamaal Anderson (DE, Arkansas); 2006 - none; 2005 - Roddy White (WR, UAB); 2004 - DeAngelo Hall (CB, Virginia Tech), Michael Jenkins (WR, Ohio State); 2003 - none.

04/15 11:55:13 ET