MOBILE -- The Falcons are moving full speed ahead with their draft preparations, and there are early indications that the team will be able to address one of their major needs in the first round of the NFL draft, which is set for April 22-24.
Several draft analysts and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff have acknowledged that this draft is extremely strong and deep on defense.
For instance, if the Falcons choose to pursue a defensive end, there are several quality options. If they prefer, a cornerback, there should be a good one available when they select with either the 19th or 20th pick.
By contrast, if you're a team looking for a franchise quarterback, this is a rough year. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen are the top quarterback prospects and both have issues, analysts say.
"It is a good, fairly depth-full defensive draft," Dimitroff said after one of the Senior Bowl practices last week. "There are some explosive-type of athletic players in this draft. There are definitely some impact players that are going to help teams that draft them."
While Dimitroff keeps his cards extremely close to his vest at this time of the year, he did note that the Falcons have their draft board stacked at all positions.
"We've had our first set of meetings," Dimitroff said. "We'll come back in February and continue to set our board. We will be massaging our board more as we go into February before the NFL [scouting] combine."
The scouting combine is set for Feb. 24 through March 2 in Indianapolis.
The Falcons' board
The Falcons likely will not ignore their offense, but because the defense finished 21st overall and 28th against the pass, it's reasonable to conclude that the defense will get a lot of attention again.
The draft board will evolve and change even more after the scouting combine, depending on performances, follow-up interviews and background checks.
"I think there are lot of numbers at the defensive end position," Dimitroff said. "There are a lot of legitimate pass rushers in this draft that are going to help teams on the next level."
The Falcons replaced five starters on defense last offseason.
They drafted three defensive backs last year and might be in the cornerback market again.
"At the corner spot, there are good numbers there as well," Dimitroff said. "It bodes well for the teams that are picking them and need to continue to build on the defensive side."
Cornerbacks a plenty
The Falcons will have options if they elect to draft a cornerback.
"There are lot of corners," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "[Florida's] Joe Haden is not here, but the next four highest rated corners are all here this week."
Virginia's Chris Cook is a huge corner at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. Boise State's Kyle Wilson (5-10, 190) turned some heads during Senior Bowl practices.
Also, Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox (5-11, 189) and Florida State's Patrick Robinson (5-11, 190) are highly skilled.
Robinson will have to get more physical at the pro level. Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley, of Hiram High, had a strong week.
Lang a sleeper
Troy defensive end Brandon Lang, of Tucker High, had a good week of practice.
Lang (6-3, 260) is hoping to follow the footsteps of former Troy players DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora to the NFL.
"They went through this same process and made a name for themselves," Lang said. "I just hope that I can do the same thing."
Lang, who is represented by Atlanta agent Hadley Engelhard, was pretty popular during the interviewing process as he met with more than 20 of the 32 teams, including the Falcons.
"I don't know who has the most interest, but I talked to just about every team here," said Lang, who ranks third in Troy history in tackles for losses, trailing only Ware and Umenyiora.