Falcons offseason update

Taylor Gabriel enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Falcons in 2016.

Published on Tuesday, 5/2/17, at 1:59 p.m. Eastern.

The question most Atlanta players and coaches have faced in their few media appearances since the crushing Super Bowl LI overtime loss to New England has been, “How tough was it to get over that loss?”

OK, I’m a life-long (suffering) Falcons fan and I know the answer to that dumbass question. And it’s the same for every player, coach and real-deal fan.


Atlanta fans, coaches and players will never EVER shake the agony of allowing a 28-3 second-half lead to get away in Houston. OK? Now that that’s out of the way…..on to the 2017 campaign.

The South Point Hotel in Las Vegas released its NFL season win totals Sunday after the Draft wrapped up Saturday night. Atlanta has a 10-win tally that’s shaded to the ‘under’ at a -120 price. Bettors can back the ‘over’ at even money. (Check out the regular-season schedule below at the bottom.)

New England opened with the highest win total (11 ‘over’ -120), but that number has already been pushed up to 11.5. Next, there’s the Steelers (10.5 ‘over’ -120) and Seahawks (10.5 flat, which is -110 either way), who are followed by the Falcons.

Atlanta moved up five spots in the first round last Thursday night to select Takk McKinley, a pass-rushing specialist who produced 17 sacks and three forced fumbles in three years at UCLA. GM Thomas Dimitroff had to give away three picks (1st, 3rd & 7th — #31, 95 and 249) to move up.

In order to get some picks back, Atlanta traded its second-round pick (#63) to the Bills for three selections (#75, 149 & 156). With the 75th pick in the third round, the Falcons added an LSU player with their second selection for the third straight year. They took OLB Duke Riley, who had 93 tackles, one interception, 1.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, three QB hurries and one pass broken up as a senior.

In the fourth round, Dimitroff addressed a need by going with Oregon St.’s Sean Harlow, who played tackle for the Beavers but will move inside to guard and maybe get some work at center, too. In the fifth, the Falcons selected San Diego St. CB Damontae Kazee, Wyoming RB Brian Hill and Drake TE Eric Saubert.

Hill rushed for 1,860 yards and 22 TDs to lead the Cowboys to the Mountain West Conference Championship Game this past season. As a sophomore in 2015, Hill ran for 1,631 yards and six TDs while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Devonta Freeman is going into a contract year and will be looking for a monster deal, while Tevin Coleman has had a history of ankle problems. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with adding quality depth at the RB position.

Atlanta’s fifth-round pick Brian Hill, a RB from Wyoming, isn’t lacking confidence. He claims the Falcons got the best back in the Draft in the fifth round.

In fact, Hill told the media that the Falcons “got the best RB in the draft in the fifth round.”

In terms of personnel losses during the offseason, there haven’t been many for the Super Bowl runner-up. FB Patrick DiMarco left via free agency for the Buffalo Bills, while starting OG Chris Chester retired. Other than that, the Falcons return their nucleus intact.

The biggest concern is the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who helped Atlanta enjoy a record-setting season. Shanahan left to take the head-coaching job with the 49ers. Steve Sarkisian, the former head coach in college at Washington and Southern Cal, will replace Shanahan as OC after a brief stint at Alabama as its OC under Nick Saban.

Sportsbook.ag has the Patriots as +360 ‘chalk’ to win Super Bowl LII. The next-shortest odds belong to the Cowgirls (11/1), Packers (12/1), Seahawks (12/1) and Falcons (13/1).

Atlanta has 6/1 odds to win the NFC, while Dallas is the 5/1 favorite. Seattle shares 6/1 odds with the Falcons, while the Packers are at +625 (risk $100 to win $625).

In Week 1, the offshore website has Atlanta installed as a 6.5-road favorite against the Bears at Soldier Field. The total for ‘over/under’ wagers is 42.5 points.

Falcons 2017 Schedule:

1:00 pm ET
Sun Sep 10 at CHI

8:30 pm ET
Sun Sep 17 GB

1:00 pm ET
Sun Sep 24 at DET

1:00 pm ET
Sun Oct 1 BUF

1:00 pm ET
Sun Oct 15 MIA

8:30 pm ET
Sun Oct 22 at NE

1:00 pm ET
Sun Oct 29 at NYJ

1:00 pm ET
Sun Nov 5 at CAR

4:25 pm ET
Sun Nov 12 DAL

8:30 pm ET
Mon Nov 20 at SEA

1:00 pm ET
Sun Nov 26 TB

1:00 pm ET
Sun Dec 3 MIN

8:25 pm ET
Thu Dec 7 NO

8:30 pm ET
Mon Dec 18 at TB

1:00 pm ET
Sun Dec 24 at NO

1:00 pm ET
Sun Dec 31 CAR

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