Matthew Stafford’s dazzling show at Georgia’s Pro Day did not lock down the No. 1 pick in the draft.
But as one NFC director of player personnel said, “He didn’t hurt himself.”
Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno did not help himself with slow 40-yard dash times. He ran a 4.6 and 4.63 after running a 4.59 at the combine. But he has what some scouts call “front-end” speed and won’t drop out of the first round.
It’s no secret the Falcons will go heavy on defense in this draft. Here are couple of players to track over the next month. They’ll likely still be available when the Falcons pick No. 24.
Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English.
Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis.
Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim.
Southern California linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.
Here’s a little bit on English, who measured 6-foot-2, 255 pounds at the NFL scouting combine.
“I’m just a natural competitor and that’s kind of how it’s always been for me,” English said. “I’ve always wanted to be the best. Always wanted to make plays and win and I think those are some of the intangibles that are important in a good football player. You have to be a gentleman off the field and I try to do that.
LEDBETTER’S EARLY MOCK DRAFT
1. Detroit Lions: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. Lions go with the safe pick.
2. St. Louis Rams: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia.
5. Cleveland Browns: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. Bengals ignore his injury woes.
7. Oakland Raiders: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rey Maualagu, LB, USC. Del Rio can’t resist adding a play maker.
9. Green Bay Packers: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California.
11. Buffalo Bills: Andre Smith, T, Alabama. Bills decide to believe what they see on tape.
12. Denver Broncos: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU.
13. Washington Redskins: Brian Cushing, LB, USC.
14. New Orleans Saints: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri.
15. Houston Texans: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State.
16. San Diego Chargers: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss. The second run on tackles starts here.
17. New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. Jets get their quarterback of the future.
18. Chicago Bears: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eben Britton, OT, Arizona.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Percy Harvin, WR, Florida. Lions get running mate for Calvin Johnson.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi.
23. New England Patriots: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois.
25. Miami Dolphins: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Clay Matthews Jr., OLB, USC.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina): Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State.
29. New York Giants: Hakim Nicks, WR, North Carolina.
30. Tennessee Titans: Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech.
So would the Falcons be making a mistake if they select English? Should they trade out of the first round and pick up some more picks? Would it be a good move to address the defensive line in the first round?