A post-draft look at the Falcons’ 2017 opponents: The Lions, Game Three

In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, in Detroit. The Lions play against the Seattle Seahawks in a Wild Card playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 7.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end:




Falcons at Lions, at 1 p.m. Sept. 24

No longer with the Lions: Tackle Riley Reiff, guard Larry Warford, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and linebacker DeAndre Levy.

Key free agent signings: Right tackle Ricky Wagner; guard T.J. Lang; defensive tackle Akeem Spence; defensive end Cornelius Washington; cornerback D.J. Hayden; linebacker Paul Worrilow; tight end Darren Fell; linebacker Nick Bellore and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.

The 2017 Draftees:

1 21 Jarrad Davis LB Florida
2 53 Teez Tabor CB Florida
3 96 Kenny Golladay WR Northern Illinois
4 124 Jalen Reeves-Maybin LB Tennessee
4 127 Michael Roberts TE Toledo
5 165 Jamal Agnew CB San Diego
6 205 Jeremiah Ledbetter DE Arkansas
6 215 Brad Kaaya QB Miami (Fla.)
7 250 Pat O’Connor DE Eastern Michigan

Weaknesses: The Lions are trying to improve their speed on defense and in the linebacking corps. They believe they have a winner in first-round pick Jarrad Davis. He made 158 tackles in his two seasons as a starter and missed four games last year with a high ankle sprain. The Lions finished last in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average last season for total defense as well as rushing and passing defense.

Strengths: The Lions made it a priority to improve the offensive line by signing Wagner, Lang and Fells, a fine blocking tight end. They want to help quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had to guide them to eight comeback victories last season. A better run game and upgraded protection for Stafford, who’s been sacked 126 times over the past three seasons, is vital to the Lions being able to make a playoff push out of the NFC North.

Comment:  The Lions went 9-7 last season, but were 6-2 at Ford Field. They looked like a playoff-bound team before a late-season collapse with three straight losses to the New York Giants, Dallas and Green Bay.


Exhibition season

Falcons at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10

Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Aug. 20

Arizona Cardinals at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 26

Jacksonville Jaguars at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 31

Regular season

Sept. 10 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Fox

Sept. 17 Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. NBC

Sept. 24 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. Fox

Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 8 BYE

Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 22 at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Oct. 29 at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Fox

Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox

Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thur), 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network/Amazon

Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon). 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox


MUST READ PROFILE: Falcons top pick McKinley makes name for himself

2017 Falcons report card: Falcons earn a B-plus

NFC Champs add a pass rusher, quality depth 

1st rounder: Meet defensive end Takkarist McKinley

3rd rounder: Meet linebacker Duke Riley

4th rounder: Meet offensive guard Sean Harlow

5th rounder: Meet defensive back Damontae Kazee

5th rounder: Meet running back Brian Hill

5th rounder: Meet tight end Eric Saubert


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