Archive for April, 2009

Dimitroff takes us inside the draft room

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff (r) and head coach MikeSmith (l) welcome first round pick Peria Jerry. (KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff (L) and head coach Mike Smith (R) welcome first round pick Peria Jerry. (KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC)

THE WAR ROOM – Well, today Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff drops by the blog. This is about as close as I can get us to the real war room.

After all of the picks are made, Dimitroff comes down and does a de-briefing of the draft. I like to get his scouting break down on the lesser known second-day picks.

Here’s how the reigning executive of the year broke things down.

TD ON THIRD ROUND PICK CHRIS OWENS, CB, San Jose State: “Chris Owens for us is a combination of a very physical and aggressive corner. He comes to the table with a lot of speed. He’s a sub-4.5 guy. He’s actually a lower 4.4 guy. He’s around a 4.43 player. He’s increasing our speed in the secondary. Increases our physicality and has very good ball skills. He’s gotten his hands on a lot of balls. He definitely brings an element of urgency to our defense as well.”

TD ON …

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THE AFTERMATH: Kiper, Character and Kelly

AFTERMATH TOWNSHIP — The Falcons draft basically started last Thursday, when they completed the Tony Gonzalez trade.

The Falcons said it came together quickly last week, but the hall of famer said that the Chiefs had called him

The Falcons hit the draft running after trading for tight end Tony Gonzalez, here with his lovely wife October. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

The Falcons hit the draft running after trading for tight end Tony Gonzalez, here with his lovely wife October. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

about the deal last Saturday.

“They guaranteed a good draft right away, before the draft actually started, by acquiring Tony Gonzalez,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. “Then they could go defense. I think they were afraid and it turned out that their fears were well-founded that the guy that they wanted in the first round, which I thought all along was Brandon Pettigrew, would be gone. He went 20th to Detroit. I thought it was a tremendous start for them and then it just kept getting better.”

The Falcons had a first round dilemma. In the Michael Vick aftermath, they are not taking any chances on players with …

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Mock Draft 6.0: Welcome to the ATL, Cushing

Falcons QB Matt Ryan shooting an ESPN commercial with Hannah Storm (l) and Josh Elliot.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan shooting an ESPN commercial with Hannah Storm (l) and Josh Elliot. If they shoot another one, maybe he'll take linebacker Brian Cushing with him.

DRAFTVILLE — Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the hay is in the barn.

The Falcons draft board is all arranged. The Green players are in the green spots. The blue players are in the blue spots. The red guys are in the red slots. The off-the-board guys can find their name plates in the trash dumpster.

The matrix is complete.

Who should the Falcons draft?

  • Brian Cushing, LB, Southern Cal
  • Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois
  • Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
  • Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missiouri
  • Trade down and pick Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas.

View Results

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All that’s left is for the players to start flying off draft boards shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday. At slot 24, the Falcons can kick back, eat some turkey sandwiches, sip on some fruit juice and hope that …

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Kiper has Johnson slipping to third round

Mel Kiper was in mid-flow, still going strong after two hours and two minutes. He’d taken more than 80 questions on a national conference call.

ESPN’s draft analyst asked if there were still any people left on the line. There were still 12 more callers.

ESPN's Mel Kiper is not high on a couple of local products.

ESPN draft analyst is not high on some local products.

He took all of the calls, one of the last ones being about Sam Houston State quarterback Rhett Bomar for a small newspaper guy in Texas. That was very gracious of Kiper and one of the reasons why most traditional print media guys love him.

Folks would ask Kiper about some obscure DB from the WAC and he’d start rattling off their vital stats. Some of the reporters would thank Kiper for dropping some knowledge on them.

This is Kiper’s 31st year in the business of analyzing draft prospects and he’ll be a major part of ESPN’s coverage on Saturday and Sunday.

So to help us get ready for the overall draft, here’s Kiper on a variety of players, topics and all-around …

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Mock Draft 5.0: USC’s Cushing falls to Falcons

Falcons coach Mike Smith take a break from draft preparations to host the media in a golf tournament at Pine Isle Golf Course in Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia.

Falcons coach Mike Smith took a break from draft preparations to host the media in a golf tournament at Pine Isle Golf Course in Lake Lanier Islands, Ga.

No Pam Grier, Beyonce or Batman for this week’s mock draft.

With a shade over a week to go, the dust is starting to settle around the National Football League. We must get down to some football business.

The last few visits are being taken and teams are finalizing their draft boards. They are reviewing several scenarios that could unfold on Saturday, April 25.

One of very popular scenarios has USC linebacker Brian Cushing, once considered a top 10 pick, dropping to the Falcons at No. 24. It’s likely because the glut of defensive end/outside linebacker types and because of his red flags. If he’s there at 24, he’ll be holding up a red and black jersey around 8 p.m. next Saturday night. Check out some Cushing highlights.

Coach Mike Smith congratulates 790 The Zone's Chris Dimino after he won the closest to the pin contest.

Coach Mike Smith congratulates 790 The Zone's Chris Dimino after he won the closest to the pin contest.

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OU’s Robinson ready to come home

PINE ISLE, LAKE LANIER – Yeah, I’m getting this blog up because I’m officially shamming today. Playing in coach Mike Smith’s Hacks vs. Jacks golf tournament. Doing what they call in the journalism game: networking.

However, I talked to Big George “Duke” Robinson, the Washington High kid, who went on to star at

Duke Robinson, a former star at Washington High, is fired up about his workout with the Falcons. (Courtesy of the University of Oklahoma)

Duke Robinson, a former star at Washington High, is fired up about his workout with the Falcons. (Courtesy of the University of Oklahoma)

Oklahoma. He’s working out for the Falcons on Thursday.

What a cool kid. I’d talked to him before in a mass media setting at the NFL scouting combine, but our little chat on Tuesday was very nice.

He seems to have a real good head on his shoulders. I wanted to know why he went all the way out to Oklahoma. (Full disclosure: I like the Sooners. My first cousin, the great Weldon Ledbetter played fullback there for coach Barry Switzer 1979 to ‘83. He was a 7th round draft pick by Tampa Bay and went on to block for …

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Are the Falcons ready for Prime Time again?

The NFL is set to release the week-by-week schedule for the 2009 season at 7 p.m. tomorrow

Who's going to bring the popcorn when Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills come to the Georgia Dome in 2009?

Who is going to bring the popcorn when Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills come to the Georgia Dome in 2009?

The Falcons already know their opponents.

Home games include: Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Carolina, Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, Miami and Chicago.

Away games include: Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Carolina, Dallas, New York Giants, New England, New York Jets and San Francisco.

The Falcons should get at least one Monday night game and possibly a Sunday night game. The away game at New England with Matt Ryan returning to the Boston area should get prime time consideration.

The Falcons will get a chance to see some of the players who left during free agency. Keith Brooking will get a shot at his old team when the Falcons go to Dallas. Linebacker Michael Boley is now with the New York Giants and will host the Falcons in Giants Stadium.

This offseason’s bad boy, Jay Culter, will lead the …

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Mock Draft 4.0: Sintim the Superhero

Ran into the Caped Crusader at Six Flags. While waiting almost two hours to rid the Goliath, I wondered "Where would Batman go in this year's draft. Is he a tight end or a defensive end?

Ran into the Caped Crusader at Six Flags. While waiting almost two hours to ride the Goliath, I wondered where would Batman go if he was this week's Mock Draft? Is he a tight end or a defensive end?

Gotham City — Not really sure where Batman would go in this week’s Mock Draft.

You see, there is a major problem. Batman doesn’t have any super powers. He has good hands, great agility, strength, but doesn’t have a top shelf 40-yard dash time. He’s what they call a long strider.

Ahmad "Batman" Carroll (4) played for the New York Jets last season after a stint in the Arena Football League. Photo by Jason Getz / AJC

Also, his cape is a clear violation of the NFL’s uniform policy and Commissioner Roger Godell certainly wouldn’t let him play with his utility belt. That’s where he hides all of his really cool gadgets.

You see, the last time Batman was in the draft, he went pretty high. Arkansas’ Ahmad “Batman” Carroll, of Douglass High, went to the Packers with the 25th pick in 2004.

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Blank backs longer season, likes DirectTV

Falcons owner Arthur Blank. (By Curtis Compton/AJC)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank. (By Curtis Compton/AJC)

Dana Point, Calif. – Upon conclusion of the recent NFL owners’ meeting, Falcons owner Arthur Blank addressed the league’s labor situation, the new $4 billion television deal, selling out the Georgia Dome and the league’s plan to grant more access to the media with.

Q: How was the update on the league’s labor situation?
A: Certainly, we are optimistic that the owners and players will do the right thing in terms of being able to come to an agreement. Obviously, we want to do the right thing for the fans. I think we’re working hard on that. We are led by the commissioner, our labor committee and staff. The NFLPA has a new executive director, who apparently is a very competent guy. He’s had an initial very good meeting with the commissioner. So we hope that it’s the first step in the process that will continue with labor peace for all of us.

Q: How will getting a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done help the Falcons?
A: I …

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Updated Mock draft: Virginia LB Sintim to ATL

Falcons defensive players who were fierce like Pam Grier's cousin, the great Rosey Grier.

The Falcons are looking for defensive players who are fierce like Pam Grier's cousin, the great Rosey Grier. He played for the Rams' Fearsome Foursome line with Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy in the 1960s. Pam, this week's honorary blog guest, was pretty tough in the 1974 movie Foxy Brown.

Just 22 days to the draft and two more mock drafts before the really big Mock Draft, the one that counts. The one that runs in the paper on Saturday morning of April 25th.

But for now, we’ll do the best we can as situations around the league are fluid.

However, University of Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga visit with the Falcons on Saturday means one of two things.

Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim could add some pop to the Falcons defense. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff).

Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim could add some pop to the Falcons defense. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff).

He’s slipping in the draft and is going to be around when they pick 24th overall. Or the Falcons plan on trading up to get in the mix for the All-American attack missile from USC.

But he’s a middle …

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