Atlanta Falcons: 5 things we learned at the NFL combine

Signing Julius Peppers to a mega-deal doesn't appear to fit the Falcons definition of "fiscally responsible" moves. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Signing Julius Peppers to a mega-deal doesn't appear to fit the Falcons definition of "fiscally responsible" moves. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Back in the ATL – It was fast and furious at the NFL scouting combine over the last five days.

Got back in late last night, but on the plane I came up five things we learned at the NFL scouting combine.

Here they are:

1. FORGET ABOUT PEPPERS: The indicators are pointing toward the Falcons not getting involved in the Julius Peppers derby. The buzz words that keep coming from general manager Thomas Dimitroff are “fiscally responsible” moves. My man Charles Chandler of the Charlotte Observer noted that Peppers turned down a deal that would have paid him between $13 and $14 million last summer. A deal in a higher range doesn’t appear to fit the Falcons definition of “fiscally responsible.”

2. NO DEFENSIVE END IN THE FIRST ROUND: You can rule out a defensive end with the No. 1 pick. The Falcons like their ends and think the pass rush would have been just fine with defensive tackle Peria Jerry in the lineup last season.

“My feeling is this, last year we drafted Peria Jerry in the first round,”  Dimitroff said. “Unfortunately for us he was injured. He was really coming along well. He was going to help create some pass rush up the middle. Obviously, he was going to free something up on the outside. We felt John Abraham was going to continue to get up field, as well as Kroy Biermann and some of our other young guys on the outside.”

3. MIDDLE OF LINE: Falcons center Todd McClure, unfortunately, isn’t going to play forever and his backup Brett Romberg is 29 years old. The Falcons are going to draft an interior lineman who can play guard and center at some point in this draft.

4. WIDE RECEIVER HELP: The wide receiver position will get addressed at some point in the draft. Injuries to Harry Douglas and Brian Finneran nearly decimated the depth behind Roddy White last season.

5. BIGGER CBs TO GET ADDED: Bigger cornerbacks are on the way. Just look at the size of the receivers in the NFC South. I wouldn’t be wise to rule out Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox. While he has some off the field he issues, he can play the game. South Florida cornerback Jerome Murphy didn’t impress too many people when he showed up for interviews wearing white gold upper and lower teeth grills.

LSU's Rahim Alem's stats dropped in a scheme that called for him to drop into coverage more last season.

LSU's Rahim Alem's stats dropped in a scheme that called for him to drop into coverage more last season.

DILLARD’s 2010 PROMOTION:  At the 2008 combine, agent Jason Dillard of Signature Sports Reps in Sacramento, Calif., passed out t-shirts with bios of four clients on the front and back.

He had a milk carton theme because he contended they were “missing” from the combine because they weren’t not invited. One of the “missing players” was Clifton Smith, who went on to make the Tampa Bay roster and was named a Pro Bowl. Another was defensive back Roy Lewis who played one game with Pittsburgh in 2008 and eight with Seattle last season.

This year Dillard was back with another plan to help promote LSU defensive end Rahim Alem and California wide receiver Verran Tucker. He had red and white popcorn bags delivered to the media lounge with a bag of microwave popcorn, candies and a highlight DVD of Alem and Tucker entitled, “201o NFL Combine Movie Night.”

“Basically, teams had specific questions that we hope the DVDs would answer,” Dillard said.

The feedback on the DVDs has been positive.

“I actually sat down with one defensive coordinator last night,” Dillard said. “He appreciated it. Rahim is going to do the linebacker drills today and by the time he runs everybody will be looking forward to meeting him.”

142 comments Add your comment

Bangkapi Ajarn

March 1st, 2010
10:28 am

Interesting observation about a DE in the draft. Would Graham be considered a DE or an OLB in this senario?

blord

March 1st, 2010
10:40 am

So I guess your thinking we go corner in the first? If true that surprises me unless we trade back. One thing I have learned about TD is that he makes the right moves and to this point they usually aren’t in line with what I think should happen. I guess that is why i make what i make and he makes what he makes. Hope P. Jerry is the real deal and stays healthy this year. Wonder if we might consider taking his brother this year?

blord

March 1st, 2010
10:48 am

DOL,
From your conversations with TD have you gotten the impression at all that we may make moves to pick up a 2nd rounder?

rico43

March 1st, 2010
11:03 am

1) Go for one top-shelf FA cornerback; re-sign Williams.
2) Draft best linebacker available, inside or outside, in 1st round
3) Take Cox in 3rd round if still available
4) Good WRs and OLs will be available from that point forward
See, wasn’t that simple?

Marcus

March 1st, 2010
11:06 am

TD appears to be a little coy and maybe even plays on words (as expected) but did he give any indication on those college DEs who project to be OLBs (similar question to Bangkapi Ajarn)?
Those would include Jerry Huges (TCU), S. Kindle (Texas), and maybe even B. Graham (Michigan)?
Hughes and Kindle probably have the footspeed to make the transition to OLB, not so sure about Graham.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
11:19 am

Bangkapi Ajarn: Grahamn is a DE on Falcons board.

Blord: I came away thinking CB or WLB eventual replacement for Mike Peterson or a SLB for Nicholas, with Nicholas maybe going to WLB. I’ve to Friday to sort it up for the update Mock Draft. Really impressed with Weatherspoon (short arms), but not sure he’ll be there at 19.

Blord: The could trade the one and fall back into the second and get two picks. But Dimitroff said he’s inclined to keep his picks and not do the Ted Thompson fall back move.

Marcus: Graham on the Falcons board. Don’t know about the others. Kindle will not be there when they pick. Folks are still figuring out who Hughes is. He’s not worthy of the 19th at this point.

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
11:19 am

Ledbetter does not know…..he’s just stirring the pudding.

Do you honestly think the Falcons brass is going to tell the beatwriter what they are doing. Nobody with half a brain thinks the Falcons pass rush is acceptable “as is” with Peria Jerry back. C’mon D-Led.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
11:22 am

Matty Ice: This is a DIRECT QUOTE from TD. Yes he gave up some info:
“My feeling is this, last year we drafted Peria Jerry in the first round,” Dimitroff said. “Unfortunately for us he was injured. He was really coming along well. He was going to help create some pass rush up the middle. Obviously, he was going to free something up on the outside. We felt John Abraham was going to continue to get up field, as well as Kroy Biermann and some of our other young guys on the outside.”

(ICE — I tell you when I’m stirring the pudding. When I’ve got intel. I share it)

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
11:26 am

ok D-Led……so when Falcons take Brandon Graham in the 1st round – then what will you say?

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
11:28 am

btw, I would like to see Falcons take Sean Weatherspoon in 1st round and maybe a corner in 3rd round.

Grab Kyle Vandenbosh or Patrick Kerney as a “stopgap” starter until the kids (Bierrman/Sidbury) develop – neither are ready now to do anything more than rotational. With Abe not playing more than 60% of the snaps, we need to rotate somebody else in to rush the passer.

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
11:38 am

bottom-line, and not trying to be ugly here………your quotes above do not prove the Falcons won’t take a Defensive End in 1st round…….

I don’t even want the Falcons to take a defensive end in the first round – so, its not like I am wishing you wrong – I just fail to see how you draw your conclusion from your QUOTE……

Please explain your conclusion that Falcons won’t take a Defensive End in 1st round

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
11:42 am

Matty Ice: This is where we are today on March 1. Things could and will change before April 22. If they like there DEs and Brandon Graham’s is a DE, then he’s not coming here. TD’s telling us they like their DEs. Get off the pass rush. TD and Smitty don’t think it’s a problem with Jerry and Babineaux pushing up the middle. THAT’S WHAT HE’S TRYING TO TELL US. Start looking elsewhere to explain the 28th ranking in pass defense. LB’s pass coverage and CB’s size are the two that come to mind without a film study or statistically review.

GATORZONE

March 1st, 2010
11:42 am

DOL, while I am sure you do have a direct quote from TD, why would he let other teams rule out anything? This is a diversion. I would be surprised if they did not consider adding more Dline help…
God knows the Falcons need it!

GATORZONE

March 1st, 2010
11:46 am

Quotes from GM’s do not prove anything.

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
11:50 am

thank you gatorzone……..we are in full blown “liar season” for NFL GM’s and coaches…..Nobody had a clue that Falcons were going for Matt Ryan until about 24 hours prior to the draft….I don’t think D-Led predicted Falcons were going “Peria Jerry” last year either….

Unless Dimitroff gave Ledbetter something “off the record” that he is not allowed to print – then there is not enough in the above statement to prove anything…..

Falcons pass rush last year was pathetic. John Abraham has two years left on his contract but this could be his last year if he has another disappointing season. Bierrman and Sidbury show promise but neither have the kind of size to stay on the field on running downs.

Peria Jerry is a good penetrating defensive tackle but so are a lot of teams defensive tackles – if you don’t have good D-Ends you will get smoked in the NFL – as the Falcons did last year…

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
11:50 am

ICE AND GATORZONE: I love the both of you. Just trying to help here. There’s a lot of conversation in front of the quote and after the quote that buttress what we learned at the combine. One thing we learned is that they like their DEs and think that with Jerry and Babs pushing the pocket, drawing three and sometimes four blockers that their ends will be just fine.

Mike Pete is 33. Makes sense to get his replacement on board. Look at the size of the receivers in the division. They have to get better and bigger at DB. That’s just want we learned at the combine.

Just thinking out loud, it would be wise for us — right now — to get off the DEs and start doing more work on the LBs and big CBs like Weatherspoon and Perrish Cox right now.

TD doesn’t play the division game. He shoots you straight and if he doesn’t want to answer the question, he’ll politely decline. He’s not into diversions.

I’m just saying . . .

Papooh

March 1st, 2010
11:54 am

1 SEAN WEATHERSPOON OLB/MIZZ
3 DOMINIQUE FRANKS CB/OU
4 BRANDON LANG DE/TROY
4 DENNIS PITTA TE/BYU
5 DEMARYIUS THOMAS WR/GT
5 MIKE TEPPER OT/CAL
6 ZANE BEADLES OG-C/UTAH
7 CHRIS BROWN RB/OKL

WHAT DO YOU THINK??

blord

March 1st, 2010
11:55 am

I like Weatherspoon as well. I love the idea of both he and Curtis for years to come. I think we are really building something on Defense. It also looks like Spoon is going up the draft board so i am not sure he will be there for us at 19. If he does though that means someone else will fall to us. Wish we had a 2nd but glad we have Gonzo.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
12:00 pm

Papooh: Like your picks. Thomas is long gone before the fifth. Smitty said RB is not a priority. Dump the RB and throw another LB or DB in there.

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
12:01 pm

well D-Led, I’m going to “agree to disagree” with you and I do think Falcons will address D-End in either free agency, 1st, 3rd, or 3rd round comp picks. But enough of that for now. Let’s move on…

I really like Sean Weatherspoon and I think he would be a very nice fit for Falcons at WLB. I also agree that Falcons need upgrade at corner……and would love a corner with size. But how many are there? Jerome Murphy is one but he is probably a late 2nd rounder and you already said he was kind of suspect….Perrish Cox is 5′11″ – so he’s not exactly a skyscraper.

I would love to see Falcons trade back 7-10 picks and pick up extra late 2nd/3rd rounder and then grab ‘Spoon and a corner….would be a sound strategy.

Matty Ice

March 1st, 2010
12:05 pm

Papooh,

Broke foot or no broke foot, you are not getting Demaryous Thomas in the 5th round – get real. I think he goes late 2nd/early 3rd – probably to his old college coach – Chan Gailey who is now the head coach of Buffalo Bills. Gailey will want him to replace T.O. and the Bills GM (Nix) comes from an organization(Chargers) that values huge wideouts (Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, TE-Antonio Gates)……anyway, that is my theory. Maybe if we got lucky “bey-bey” would last to the Falcons 3rd round pick – very doubtful though – 5th round is a pipe dream.

Juice

March 1st, 2010
12:10 pm

Okay you use a TD quote that can be misinterpreted as the basis for your entire thought process. That’s terrible when half a dozen other quotes made by TD can be interpreted to mean the opposite of what you’re saying.

[...] Atlanta Falcons: 5 things you schooled during a NFL mix | Atlanta … [...]

Richie Rich

March 1st, 2010
12:26 pm

D.O.L your secondary help can come if we sign Dunta Robinson or Antrel Rolle.

Lewis Grizzard's Ghost

March 1st, 2010
12:33 pm

Hey ICE and GZone, that was fun . . .

If I’d had someone like ya’ll holding me accountable I’da written better stuff . . . who am I kidding, does anybody remember Minter and Bisher? I was held accountable . . . anyway, that was fun, guys!

Good job, D-Led, good job!

Mave2124

March 1st, 2010
12:35 pm

Why are you back in the ATL? The combine lasts 2 more days and the CB workouts are on Tuesday???? Do the media people leave easrly and coaches stay? or only scouts? Are the player interiews over? How do the coaches get picked to run drills? Saw our TE coach on Saturday.

King of Stone Mountain

March 1st, 2010
12:39 pm

D.O.L. – Man, tell me you’re not wearing THAT necktie today… Ditch that! :)

King of Stone Mountain

March 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

Correction… Bowtie

willie

March 1st, 2010
12:43 pm

I tend to believe TD is telling the truth. I think that any DE available at 19 is a crapshoot. On the other hand, I think an OLB would be a much safer pick. We desperately need another CB, so if TD falls in love with one, I’m OK with that too.

Bangkapi Ajarn

March 1st, 2010
12:46 pm

Did TD give any indication of his thoughts on upgrading the kicking game (invest a low round draft pick vs free agency vs trade). The meltdown there cost the falcons a playoff spot I believe, if you move one or two L’s into the W column if fieldgoals were made.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
12:56 pm

Mave2124: There’s no more media availability after Sunday. More than 250 people come through the media room between Thursday and Sunday. Was up there from Wed to Sunday night. Also, we have to be “fiscally responsible.”

Richie Rich: Remember, the buzz words are “fiscally responsible.”

Love 4 T O

March 1st, 2010
12:57 pm

How soon can we sign T O ?????????

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
1:05 pm

Bangkapi Ajarn: Nothing new on the kicking game. They have the two on the roster — Bryant and Hauschka. And they had the three Canadian dudes in for tryouts.

Lewis Grizzard's Ghost

March 1st, 2010
1:08 pm

Does T O still have his house in Lithonia?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
1:08 pm

Love 4 T O: “The Word” at the combine was that T. O. was headed to Baltimore. Don’t think the Falcons are interested.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
1:17 pm

LG’s Ghost: Not sure if T.O. ever sold that house of Panola Road.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
1:19 pm

Not offended. Just off topic. We make the corrections and keep it moving. It’s a football blog.

Hawkshurrah

March 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

Fair enough answer. Thx.

Khao$

March 1st, 2010
1:30 pm

They can call it “fiscally responsible” all they care to. I’ll call it cheap if we don’t bring in some vets to play along side this young talent. The NFL is still a MAN’s league. And unlike some faithful Dimitroff, I’m not completely sold. Yes, the drafting of “Matty Ice” was brilliant. So were other moves…from the draft two years ago. However, Baker (from year one) has been injury prone and our two highest picks from year two were both hurt last year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but all three had injury flags coming out of college. And in the cases of Baker and Jerry, we suffered at their positions. I believe in building through the draft. However, why not bring young guys on slowly and let them play their way onto the field Steeler’s style? Are the Falcons allergic to veteren leadership? If we go into free agency they way we did last year and bring out another patchwork defense, I’ll be beside myself. That 9-7 record is a testament to Smith coaching and not what Dimitroff put on the field. One draft does not make him Ron Wolf…

Blue Fender

March 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

I’m amazed how so many of you people still want everyone else’s throwaways (Dunta, TO, LT, etc.). If those guys have issues with their current (or former) teams, then they will bring those issues with them. Look at Pacman. That worked out great for Dallas…NOT!

EVERYBODY GET OFF THE DIVA BAND WAGON!!!

Juice

March 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

Ledbetter:

“Matty Ice: This is where we are today on March 1. Things could and will change before April 22. If they like there DEs and Brandon Graham’s is a DE, then he’s not coming here. TD’s telling us they like their DEs. Get off the pass rush. TD and Smitty don’t think it’s a problem with Jerry and Babineaux pushing up the middle. THAT’S WHAT HE’S TRYING TO TELL US. Start looking elsewhere to explain the 28th ranking in pass defense. LB’s pass coverage and CB’s size are the two that come to mind without a film study or statistically review.”

They have said that we will need to address the pass rush problems. They’ve also said that pass defense starts at the line and makes the secondary better. You quote our pass defense ranking but fail to quote where we rank in number of sacks… maybe you should look that one up too–correlation?

Lewis Grizzard's Ghost

March 1st, 2010
1:44 pm

D-Led . . . In a previous post this week TD had some pretty favorable comments about UGA’s LB, Rennie Curran, have you heard any mention of interest at all?

Khao$

March 1st, 2010
1:45 pm

Also, we have to expect a suspension for Jonathan Babineaux to start the season. He was probably our best lineman last year. We need to add some more depth.

falcon60

March 1st, 2010
1:47 pm

If Matty Ice and some of the other “draft wizards” know so much, why are they writing on a blog and not working in the NFL?

I’m just sayin’………

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 1st, 2010
1:54 pm

Hawkshurrah: I need to thank you.

LG’s Ghost: He seemed to like Rennie. Was just addressing the question. Robert James is in the same stature as Rennie and they’ve been developing him for two years.

Khao$: Word at the combine was that we should hear something from the league before the start of training camp on Babs.

Juice: TD’s rationale is that Jerry makes those sacks numbers better. Stay with us here. We’re trying to help.

falcons89

March 1st, 2010
2:25 pm

in terms of trading down (if that happens), I think the best chance is if CJ Spiller is available at 19, the San Diego Chargers would love to trade up and grab him. If we add Jerious Norwood to the deal, I think a fair trade would the Chargers first and second round this year and also their next years first round pick. Maybe im just a high hoper?

Also, i think that either Sergio Kindle or Kyle Wilson will be available at 28, for the falcons to pick up at that spot. Again, just hopeful.

Ree Roe

March 1st, 2010
2:32 pm

@ D. Led, so am I to believe that DE is not a priority for the Falcons in the draft or in free agency? It sounds like CB, LB, WR & OL are bigger priorities than the line right now.

Any word on what recently released free agents we might go after? Adalius Thomas might make sense at LB…what do you think?

-Roe v. REE!!!

artist formally known as OJ Da Jew Man

March 1st, 2010
2:42 pm

@ D Led
Aye Cuz, dont erase my posts again!!!!!!!
Do it one more time and next time I see you at Stats Ima slap that pack of Ball Park franks from the back of ya neck cuz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

falcons89

March 1st, 2010
2:43 pm

also, for the third round, I’d like us to pick up WR Eric Decker, he has awesome athletic ability and is a great run blocker….he would be a nice slot receiver for us.

McBubba

March 1st, 2010
2:51 pm