FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons bolstered their pass rush by picking Minnesota defensive end Ra'Shede Hageman in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.
Hageman, the fifth pick of the second round, joins a defense that ranked last in third-down efficiency, second-worst against the run and third-fewest in sacks.
Coming off a 4-12 season that was their first losing record in six years under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons vowed to get tougher on both lines.
They drafted offensive tackle Jake Matthews No. 6 overall on Thursday and signed defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai in free agency.
Atlanta's defense was hampered last year by injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive end Kroy Biermann. Free safety Thomas DeCoud underperformed and was released.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons have selected Wisconsin safety Dez Southward in the third round of the NFL draft.
Southward, a full-time starter in 2012-13, was medically excluded from participating in the NFL combine two months ago because of wrist and spine injuries.
The fourth pick of the third round Friday, and 68th overall, Southward joins offensive tackle Jake Matthews, the No. 6 overall selection, and second-rounder Ra'Shede Hageman, a defensive end from Minnesota in Atlanta's draft class.
The Falcons are revamping the free safety position after five-year starter Thomas DeCoud was released in March.
Dwight Lowery, signed last month as a free agent, and Kemal Ishmael, a seventh-round draft pick last year, are the other free safeties listed on Atlanta's roster.