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Will the Falcons Target a DB in the 2017 NFL Draft?
March 24, 2017 07:00 PM | Andrew Hirsh
Every draft class in is stronger in some positions than others. This year, one area that's particularly deep is the secondary. It's so deep that NFL Network's Mike Mayock said this is the best corner and safety class he's seen in the last decade. It's easy to see why Mayock feels that way. There are blue-chip options like Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore. There are intriguing prospects like Jabrill Peppers who have the versatility to excel in today's game. And there are handfuls of potential starters who will be available in Days 2 and 3.

"There has never been more than 15 combined cornerbacks and safeties selected over the first two rounds of any NFL draft. Expect that to change in April," draft analyst Rob Rang wrote on CBSSports.com.

At present, the Falcons' defensive backfield is young and talented. They employed a strong safety duo last year with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen; Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Jalen Collins provide a lot of skill at cornerback; Brian Poole, who shined as a slot corner in 2016, could return to that role or compete at safety. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be surprising if they used one of the draft selections on a DB.

The NFL is more pass-happy than ever, and as a result, more corners and safeties are seeing the field than ever before. The Falcons use their nickel package roughly 60 percent of the time to counteract modern offense, which means they use five DBs on more than half of their defensive snaps.

Doing so effectively would be difficult without a lot of depth, and the draft is a great way to make sure that depth doesn't wane. In baseball, a common axiom is "you can never have enough pitching." Given the way football is evolving, one could say the same about defensive backs - especially in the NFC South.

All of Atlanta's divisional opponents feature high-caliber quarterbacks, and two of them - Carolina and Tampa Bay - have Pro Bowl pass-catchers. Panthers star Greg Olson is among the best tight ends in the league; by adding DeSean Jackson to complement Mike Evans, the Bucs could have one of the best wide receiver duos in 2017.

"I think in this league, the way people are throwing it right now, you better have ready to go," head coach Dan Quinn said. "Of course having coming back, that's huge. And we're pumped about where we can take C.J. , as a competitor. But you better have them ready. And that's the perfect example -- talking about Tampa and the addition of DeSean."

Click here to check out Sports Illustrated's cornerback rankings, and here for its safety rankings. A lot of these athletes hail from the same colleges of Atlanta's DBs - Washington, Florida, LSU, UConn - and have the length Quinn wants at those positions.

It'll be interesting to see if the Falcons invest in one of these prospects next month. And if they do, it'll be interesting to see how such a move affects the dynamic of their secondary.

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