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Atlanta Falcons 2012 Draft Needs: No Matter The Coordinator Hires, Offensive Line Is A Must

Certainly there are sexier discussions to be had about the Atlanta Falcons' roster this offseason - will John Abraham or Kroy Bierman return to a rehabbing pass rush? Is Harry Douglas worth cutting, or a diamond in the rough for the right offensive mind? If Brent Grimes is really gone and Thomas DeCoud possibly following, what's to be done in the secondary?

None of those questions can be answered until Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and Arthur Blank find new defensive and offensive coordinators. But on the offensive side of the ball, there's no available system for points-scoring success that involves busted-gate protections and amnesiac blitz pick-ups. The Falcons must address their situation on the offensive line, regardless of the incoming philosophy.

The needs:

Left Tackle Ideally, Atlanta can start 2012 with a new face at left tackle. Of all of Dimitroff's early-round picks for this franchise, only Sam Baker can be considered a bust, but he's a total bust. Will Svitek was an improvement over the injured Baker - and deserved the starting spot once Baker's back healed by mid-season - but isn't a permanent answer.

Center Todd McClure is a free agent. McClure is a quiet, hard-working veteran leader for the offense, but has been battling age (he was one of the few veterans, including Tony Gonzalez and Abraham, allowed Wednesdays off at practice). Rookie guard Joe Hawley was serviceable at the position when McClure suffered a knee injury early in the year, but isn't an ideal full time replacement.

Meanness It's not a position, but it's certainly missing. During the last offseason, the Falcons had a tough decision to make in basically choosing between tackle Tyson Clabo and guard Harvey "Effing" Dahl. Clabo was the choice (arguably the right one, in a long term sense), but Dahl's nastiness went missing. On a team that's questioning its lack of nastiness and attitude in general, a dirty ringer on the O-line would be a nice start towards creating a chip on the team's shoulder.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.