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.
The Texans could change the Falcons’ plans. But after much debate, we’re projecting that our friends from H-town will select Florida State’s Everette Brown, leaving Cushing to fall to the Falcons.
Cushing has some issues. But that’s why he’ll be there at No. 24. When he comes in to meet the media on Sunday he’ll have to explain the steroid accusations that have followed him since high school and why he and teammate Clay Matthews Jr. allegedly formed a group called “White Nation” on Facebook.
Now if the Cushing scenario doesn’t unfold for the Falcons, that means another good defender — could be Brown or Penn State’s Aaron Maybin — is slipping. Also on the board for the Falcons will be Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English or Missouri defensive tackle Evander “Ziggy” Hood.
If none of the desirable defensive players slip through, look for the Falcons to trade out of the position and pick up more picks. They will need to land near the top of the second round so they could select Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas.
The Falcons’ trade for Tony Gonzalez has restructured the first round. There are going to be several other trades. Cleveland is trying to dump Braylon Edwards and possibly quarterback Brady Quinn. Washington and Denver may try to get in position to select quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Before the Gonzalez trade, University of Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno was headed to Philadelphia. The Falcons, in part suspecting that Philadelphia was going to take Oklahoma State tight Brandon Pettigrew with the 21st pick, went ahead and got the Gonzalez deal done.
It took Dimitroff and his buddy Scott Pioli all of three hours on Thursday to have a meeting of the former New England minds.
With the Eagles taking Pettigrew, Moreno will slip to Arizona, which has the 31st pick.
More on the Mock Draft later. . . .
Punter Michael Koenen hostted the sixth Annual Dream House Golf Classic on Thursday at the Olde Atlanta Golf Club in Suwanee, Georgia . Proceeds from the event will benefit local children’s charity, Dream House for Medically Fragile Children, Inc. . . .
Cornerback Von Hutchins will serve as the grand marshal for the Walk for Lupus at Piedmont Park on Saturday. He will lead the countdown for the event to start. The walk will support the over 55,000 Georgians and 1.5 million Americans who suffer from Lupus. Those interested can start a team or walk as an individual by registering at www.lupusga.org or calling 770-333-5930. . . .
Wide receiver Harry Douglas will serve as the grand marshal for the March of Dimes Walk for Babies on Saturday, April 25 at Centennial Olympic Park. Douglas will sign autographs in the Kids Corner from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., do the countdown for the walk, welcome runners back in and sign autographs again from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Back to the Mock Draft . . .
I’m reserving the right to come back in here and switch things up as the day’s trades and signings are executed. It’s a good group for tackles and there could be a run on wide receivers.
LEDBETTER’S 2009 MOCK DRAFT 6.0:
THE FINAL CHAPTER
1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia. Stafford has to turn in his Chevy Tahoe and get him a Ford Expedition.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, LT, Baylor. The Rams hope Smith can take Orlando Pace’s old spot.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest. The Chiefs get some more help for their defense.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC. Didn’t play much in college, but can backup Matt Hasselbeck until he’s ready.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas. Should fit nicely in Eric Mangini’s version of the 3-4.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Smith, T, Alabama. Bengals make the day’s first big gamble.
7. Oakland Raiders: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia. He slides a little bit, but the Raiders will snap him up.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeremy Macklin, WR, Missouri. The Jags shy away from Crabtree because of his speed issues.
9. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. Packers have to improve their defensive line.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Oher, T, Mississippi. 49ers take a slight reach to fill a need.
11. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State. After picking up Terrell Owens, the Bills turn their attention to defense.
12: Denver Broncos (from Chicago): B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College. Broncos get an anchor for their defensive line.
13. Washington Redskins: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee. The Redskins are trying to get into the Mark Sanchez derby.
14. New Orleans Saints: Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB. Sean Payton is looking for someone to run the ball between the tackles.
15. Houston Texans: Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State. Look for the Texans to go defense. They could snap up Cushing right here.
16. San Diego Chargers: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech. Doesn’t slip too far out of the top 10.
17. New York Jets: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. Jets get their Brett Favre replacement.
18. Denver Broncos: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois. Broncos attempt to plug their leaky pass defense.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi. The Bucs try to add some bulk to their front-seven.
20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas): Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern California. He slips, but doesn’t get past the Lions.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: Andy Reid, who was a tight ends coach early in his pro coaching career in Green Bay, knows the position.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: Vikes add a playmaker to go with Adrian Peterson.
23. New England Patriots: Clay Matthews Jr., LB, Southern California. Patriots try to replace Mike Vrabel.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Brian Cushing, LB, USC. Everything breaks right and the Falcons get their man. He will compete for one of the starting outside linebacker spots.
25. Miami Dolphins: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State. Dolphins address one of their pressing needs.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland. GM Ozzie Newsome adds a weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois: Bill Polian finds another potential Pro Bowler late in the first round. Heir-apparent to speed rusher Dwight Freeney.
28. Buffalo (from Carolina through Philadelphia): Eben Britton, T, Arizona. They have to replace the traded Jason Peters.
29. New York Giants: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State. This pick could change if the Giants make the trade for Cleveland’s Braylon Edwards.
30. Tennessee Titans: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina. Can you name one of the Titans’ wide receivers?
31. Arizona Cardinals: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia. Cardinals need a running threat to help take some pressure off their vaunted passing attack.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia. A perfect fit after playing for Al Groh at Virginia.
FIRST ROUND FRINGE
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
Alex Mack, C, California
Max Unger, C, Oregon
Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
Connor Barwin, DE/LB, Cincinnati
Would you be happy with the selection of Cushing? Do you care about the steroid allegations? Do you care about the “White Nation” Facebook group? Would you prefer a defensive tackle like Hood? If Cushing isn’t there, do you fall back and get in position to draft Delmas?