Archive for April, 2010

FINAL MOCK: Under “The Polian Plan” Falcons to take Gresham

Jermaine Gresham could be on Arthur Blank's plane later tonight for a trip to Flowery Branch. Gil Brandt says Jermaine Gresham is the next Kellen Winslow Sr.!!!

Jermaine Gresham could be on Arthur Blank's plane later tonight for a trip to Flowery Branch. Gil Brandt says Jermaine Gresham is the next Kellen Winslow Sr.!!!

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Atlanta Falcons could throw “The Polian Plan” into action during the 2010 NFL draft, which is set for 7 pm. Thursday.

Who should the Falcons select with the 19th pick in the draft?

  • Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
  • Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
  • Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
  • Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
  • Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

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Bill Polian, the Indianapolis Colts’ wise talent evaluator, has made it a priority over the past decade to surround quarterback Peyton Manning with offensive weapons and then find his defensive players later.

The Falcons may want to do the same thing with quarterback Matt Ryan and continue to add weapons on offense.

Some of Polian’s first-round picks for the Colts have included running back Edgerrin James

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Beat Writers Mock: Thomas falls to the Falcons at 19

091205 - Tampa - GA Tech's  Demaryius Thomas (8) tries to break away from  Clemson's  Crezdon Butler (18) in the first quarter  during the ACC Championship game on Saturday, December 5, 2009 in Tampa, FL.  (Johnny Crawford - jcrawford@ajc.com)

091205 – Tampa – GA Tech's Demaryius Thomas (8) tries to break away from Clemson's Crezdon Butler (18) in the first quarter during the ACC Championship game on Saturday, December 5, 2009 in Tampa, FL. (Johnny Crawford – jcrawford@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND – Falcons owner Arthur Blank loves his mock drafts.

So I wanted to share one of the most informed Mock Drafts compiled. This is the annual Beat Writer’s Mock draft and it is the last one I look at before completing my final mock draft. (I like ESPN’s Kiper too because he is good at setting values for players base on his film review. However, his mock is usually off because he seems to set his mock according to his evaluations, not how the teams have the players on their respective boards.)

Here’s why this Mock is so special. The beat writers from around the country have been on the case since the end of the Super Bowl. They’ve been talking to their general managers, coaches and sources to gather information. They all have …

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NFL Draft series: Build your own draft board

Gil Brandt says Jermain Gresham is the next Kellen Winslow Sr.!!!

Gil Brandt says Jermaine Gresham is the next Kellen Winslow Sr.!!!

BIRDLAND — Just in case you missed a story in the 8-part draft series that we ran in the print editions, links are provided below to all of the stories and charts.

You can use the lists of the top 10 players at each position to build your own draft board for the NFL draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday.

PART 1 – QUARTERBACKS

MAIN — SAM BRADFORD story.

SIDEBAR — TIM TEBOW story.

CHART — TOP 10 quarterbacks.

PART 2 – RUNNING BACKS

MAIN  — C.J. SPILLER story.

SIDEBAR — JONATHAN DWYER story.

CHART — TOP 10 Running backs in the draft.

PART 3 – OFFENSIVE LINE

MAIN  — BRIAN BULAGA story.

SIDEBAR — MAURKICE POUNCEY story.

CHART — THE TOP 10 LINEMEN.

PART 4 – WIDE RECEVERS/TIGHT ENDS

MAIN — DEZ BRYANT story.

SIDEBAR — JIMMY GRAHAM story.

FALCONS INSIDER — JERMAINE GRESHAM focus.

CHART — TOP WIDE RECEIVERS, TIGHT ENDS.

PART 5 — DEFENSIVE BACKS

MAIN — ERIC BERRY story.

SIDEBAR — KAREEM JACKSON …

Continue reading NFL Draft series: Build your own draft board »

Falcons to teach golf to youth of First Tee of Atlanta

Despite winning the Green Jacket at coach Mike Smith's outing, D. Orlando Ledbetter was not invited to teach the kids of the First Tee of Atlanta his graceful golf swing. (By Tracy Carmony/11 Alive)

Despite winning the Green Jacket at coach Mike Smith's "Hacks vs. Jocks" outing, the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter was not invited to teach the kids of the First Tee of Atlanta his graceful golf swing. (By Tracy Carmony/11 Alive)

Falcons running back Jerious Norwood, cornerback Brian Williams and a few other players will help teach golf to more than 50 children from the First Tee of Atlanta program at 4 p.m. Wednesday at John A. White golf course.

The Falcons will also participate in a game of “golf baseball” with the children from the First Tee of Atlanta program that involves basic golf techniques and fundamentals in a baseball style game.

The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and the First Tee of Atlanta have a relationship through the Atlanta Falcons Fitness Zone program.

This program reaches nearly 10,000 kids each day in year-round fitness programming, and currently operates in 40 sites in neighborhoods in metro Atlanta and in Hall County .

The First Tee of Atlanta’s …

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Monday Night Football returns to the ATL in 2010

061022 - ATLANTA, GA -- ROETHLISBERGER KNOCKED OUT--Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is knocked out of the game on this hit by Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006. Roethlisberger may be suspended when the Falcons face the Steelers this season.  (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

061022 – ATLANTA, GA — ROETHLISBERGER KNOCKED OUT–Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is knocked out of the game on this hit by Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006. Roethlisberger may be suspended when the Falcons face the Steelers this season. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

UPDATE

BIRDLAND — The league’s premier in-season event, Monday Night Football, returns to Atlanta after a two-year hiatus.

The Falcons’ 2010 schedule is highlighted with two national television appearances, including one outing on Monday Night Football against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons will host the Saints at 8:30 p.m. on Mon., Dec. 27 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The Falcons other nationally televised game will be against the Baltimore Ravens at 8:20 p.m. on Thur., Nov. 11 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.

The Falcons …

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The Real Deal Mock Draft: Trades affect Falcons’ board

090426 FLOWERY BRANCH Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff  and head coach Mike Smith introduce their NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, during a press conference at their facility in Flowery Branch Sunday morning. KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

090426 FLOWERY BRANCH Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith introduce their NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, during a press conference at their facility in Flowery Branch Sunday morning. KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has watched the flurry of trades in front of the team with intense scrutnity.

First, it was the Washington’s trade for Donovan McNabb, which effectively took the Redskins out of the quarterback

Broncos Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall was traded to Miami. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Broncos Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall was traded to Miami. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

market at the No. 4 spot in this draft.

This week, Miami’s trade for Brandon Marshall took them out of the Dez Bryant derby at the 11th spot. Denver, which picks 12th, is now free to take Bryant or Georgia Tech’s Demaryius Thomas to replace Marshall.

Miami can now take defense. Both of those deals had the Falcons re-adjusting their draft scenarios.

“For …

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Falcons’ draft room to appear live on NFL Network

Florida center LaShawn Maurkice Pouncey had a private workout with the Falcons on March 31.

Florida center LaShawn Maurkice Pouncey had a private workout with the Falcons on March 31.

FLOWERY BRANCH – During the NFL draft, which will be held Thursday through Friday, the Falcons’ draft room will appear live on NFL Network from the 17th to 19th pick, general manager Thomas Dimitroff announced.

“I know, it seems counter intuitive because I’m quite guarded about the draft room,” Dimitroff said. “But we decided as an organization to make that move.”

The Falcons will allow cameras, but no audio.

“We will have the visual affects of our draft room,” Dimitroff said. “So you’ll be able to be up close and personal with our draft room.”

Last season, Falcons president Rich McKay announced the teams’ draft picks on his twitter.com account as the card was being turned into the league.

Dimitroff doesn’t think they’ll do that this year, but added that the team might talk in code names while on NFL Network.

Here are a couple of code names for players they may take:

  • Michigan …

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Introducing the 2010 Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders

The Falcons 2010 cheer squad. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

The Falcons 2010 cheer squad. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Congratulations to the 40 young ladies who made the 2010 Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders  Thursday night.

There were a lot of very talented and athletic dancers, who were on point during their routines. At the end, the entire group of 72 were brought down to main ballroom.

The team was announced and the ladies who didn’t make the team were thanked and told not to give up by Chato Waters, the Falcons cheer coordinator. They were invited back to tryout again next season.

It was an honor and a pleasure to serve as a judge. Also, the lovely Mrs. Stephanie Blank joined the panel and was so kind.

We had to judge them on physical fitness and appearance, dance/cheer ability and showmanship on a scale of 1 to 5. Let’s just say there weren’t many 3s in the group of 72 on fitness and appearance.

Some struggled with the dance routine, but if they messed up, regrouped and got back on track I didn’t hold it against them.

Some of the …

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Four Falcons sign their restricted free agent tenders

 Falcons running back # 44 Jason Snelling is tackled by Saints defensive end # 94 Charles Grant as he picks up yardage during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back # 44 Jason Snelling is tackled by Saints defensive end # 94 Charles Grant as he picks up yardage during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Four players, two starters and two reserves signed their restricted free agent tender offers on Thursday, the Falcons announced.

Starting right tackle Tyson Clabo, starting right guard Harvey Dahl, backup running back Jason Snelling and backup guard Quinn Ojinnaka signed their tender offers.

“He has enjoyed his time with the Falcons so far and he looks forward to helpiing the team to succeed in the future,” said Scott Smith, Snelling’s agent who is based in Madison, Wis. “He’s really happy there.”

Snelling was tendered at the second round level and will receive a base salary of $1.684 in 2010.

Snelling, a seventh round pick (244th overall) in 2007 from Virginia, rushed for 613 yards on 142 carries last season. He played some fullback and running back …

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Ex-Falcons Patrick Kerney announces his retirement

061022 - ATLANTA, GA -- ROETHLISBERGER KNOCKED OUT--Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is knocked out of the game on this hit by Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006. Roethlisberger did not get up for several minutes after the hit and never returned to the game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

061022 – ATLANTA, GA — ROETHLISBERGER KNOCKED OUT–Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is knocked out of the game on this hit by Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006. Roethlisberger did not get up for several minutes after the hit and never returned to the game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

Former Altanta Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney had hoped to return for the 2010 season and play for the Seattle Seahawks, but he elected to retire instead on Tuesday.

Kerney was drafted by the Falcons in first round (30th overall) of the 1999 NFL draft out of Virginia. He went on to have a stellar NFL career which included 82.5 sacks, two trips to the Pro Bowl and he was voted to the All-Pro team twice.

He was also named the NFC’s defensive player of the year in 2007.

Kerney, who’s had surgery is each of the past four offseasons, announced his retirement in statement released by the Seahawks.

“Despite …

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