Falcons have their early draft board stacked

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff  and head coach Mike Smith introduce their first round NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, in 2009. Who will be the top pick in 2011?  KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith introduce their first round NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, in 2009. Who will be the top pick in 2011? KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH – The month of December is always a busy time for Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and the rest of the team’s personnel staff.

At the completion of the college regular season, all of the scouts return to office for meetings.

“We just completed our December meetings,” Dimitroff said. “Which we affectionately refer to as ‘Needs’ meetings. We determine what we need going forward into the all-star season and bowl season on certain players around the country.”

It’s the first big step toward getting ready for the 2011 NFL Draft. The team ends up with what it considers an early draft board by position.

“We discuss players at length with the area scouts, the regional scouts and the national scouts,” Dimitroff said. “It’s a

Defensive Kroy Biermann has won the respect of Hines Ward.

Defensive Kroy Biermann has won the respect of Hines Ward.

very informative time because it gives us a very good gauge of where we are to this point and how much more work we need to do going into the future.”

The coaching staff will get involved in the process after the season is completed. The Bowl season is very important for prospects and the playoffs for the divisions that do have a system.

“We are very involved in viewing an evaluating the bowls as well as the all-star games in January to determine whether any players have slipped through the cracks and quite honestly to determine who may be rising and who may be falling,” Dimitroff said.

In each of Dimitroff’s three drafts, the Falcons have selected at least one Football Championship Series (formerly I-AA) player.

In 2008, defensive end Kroy Biermann was selected from Montana in the fifth round. He’s now a starter.
In 2009, the Falcons selected defensive end Lawrence Sidbury from Richmond in the fourth round and cornerback William Middleton from Furman in the fifth round. Sidbury is still developing and working on his techniques, according to defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. Middleton plays for Jacksonville.

Last season the Falcons selected safety Shann Schillinger from Montana in the sixth round. He’s contributing on special teams.

091227 Atlanta - DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN - Atlanta Falcons defenders begin to celebrate as defensive end # 90 Lawrence Sidbury hoists the football in the endzone as he takes it away from the Bills and returns it for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead during 2nd half action while Bills rookie quarterback # 4 Brian Brohm  looks on at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

091227 Atlanta - DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN - Atlanta Falcons defenders begin to celebrate as defensive end # 90 Lawrence Sidbury hoists the football in the endzone as he takes it away from the Bills and returns it for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead during 2nd half action while Bills rookie quarterback # 4 Brian Brohm looks on at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

“We’ll certainly have coverage of the (playoffs) live and we’ll get the video,” Dimitroff said.

Sometimes players from small schools rise up through the scouting grapevine.

“Although you don’t share information, there is a lot of word of mouth this time of year,” Dimitroff said. “There tends to be a lot of scuttlebutt about the small school players and they tend to rise. It’s real rare in this league where you have a sleeper that no one knows about it and they just kind of fall through the cracks.”

Some other recent small school finds have included New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss (Western Oregon), Houston wide receiver Jacoby Jones (Lane), Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin (Monmouth) and Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes (Shippensburg).

“It will happen, but it is rare the way the league is set up,” Dimitroff said. “You have area scouts and they are going to be dealing with the same coaches and having the same talks. For instance a scout from a certain team may go into a school and determine that he may like a player at a certain school, a coach will then turn around and call other people and say ‘hey the Falcons were in here and they think this player has some ability.’ That’s how news moves quickly.”

The labor uncertainty doesn’t have impact on the team’s draft preparation.

“Right now, with our scouting staff, it’s kind of a sidebar for us,” Dimitroff said. “We are focusing on the draft, which doesn’t change. It’s been grandfathered in. So we’re getting ready for the full run of the draft. For our preparation, it won’t change a thing.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

56 comments Add your comment

Furman Bitcher

December 24th, 2010
9:28 am

Furman Bitcher

December 24th, 2010
9:28 am

I have never been first. I feel so proud. Like an early Christmas gift.

Furman Bitcher

December 24th, 2010
9:29 am

Did management mention any area’s that they are focusing on for the first pick?

STL Falcon

December 24th, 2010
9:31 am

DE and TE, Rounds 1 and 2, in that order. Callin it now.

Sid

December 24th, 2010
9:38 am

D’Led, any information on how Kerry Meier is doing in rehab? That kid seemed to have a lot of potential to me, a bigger version of Steve Largent.

Taylor

December 24th, 2010
9:48 am

Any consensus on whether or not Sidbury could potential fill a John Abraham void or if we need to go to the draft

waynester

December 24th, 2010
10:14 am

STL
Looks like only a few day 1 DE’s and most of them will fly off the board before we pick (at 32!!!!). The #1 TE may still be available at the end of rd 1, however….

Brian Hunt

December 24th, 2010
10:26 am

I hope they are identifying offensive tackle as a need area. Matt Ryan is one of the top 5 rated QBs in the league against the blitz, but the Falcons are still one of the four most blitzed teams in the league. The line plays well as a unit, but none of them are individually dominant and teams know they can get a win in one on one match ups against them. This forces Ryan to get rid of the ball quickly and limits the team from having big plays in the passing game. The running game isn’t as dominant as it used to be either. They pick up yards by persistence, they call 30 runs. However, the ineffectiveness of the run is reflected in the fact that this run first offense is a Myth. Matt Ryan is 6th in the league in pass attempts.

FalconValueMeal

December 24th, 2010
10:27 am

Can I add another running back to this order with extra speed sauce (ie that Oregon State kid, etc). And the DE or TE combo you pick the round with a Co Cola. GO Falcons!!

drmondo

December 24th, 2010
10:35 am

I’d expect them to draft a replacement/upgrade for Norwood, an OLineman or two, a TE, an OLB and DLineman.

Larry

December 24th, 2010
10:49 am

Wierd…just weird!

Here we are at 12-2 and facing one of the biggest games in history on Monday night and we get an article about preparations for NEXT season!

Come on DOL! Let’s enjoy the 2010 season and this one could have been saved for mid to late February! One day at a time, Orlando, one day (game or season) at a time!

BOOGIES THE MAN FROM HARTWELL GA

December 24th, 2010
10:49 am

Greg from Marietta

December 24th, 2010
10:51 am

Let’s all keep hope alive that there won’t be a work stoppage next year and that the players union and the owners can reach a quick and amicable agreement. I would love to see the big rookie payouts go away for unproven talent and proven pros be justly rewarded. Paying out obscene amounts of money to unproven draft choices that don’t live up to ‘potential’ has BURNED so many teams, including the Falcons. In the real world you have to earn your pay by performance I think that the NFL would be greatly improved if they adopted the same philosophy. As to the draft, we still need some help on defense but I also see a need for another speedy receiver and a running back with some zip to get to the outside. But I’ve got a lot of faith in Thomas D & Smitty, they will get the best available I’m sure.

Supes

December 24th, 2010
11:30 am

O-Line? The Falcons have 3 guys who are “in the developmental stage” now, 2 that they drafted this past year, I can’t see them taking an O-Lineman…unless they wanna draft an understudy CENTER as McClure’s eventual replacement.

We need a TE to replace Gonzalez, a RB (We are rather thin after Turner and J.Snelling right now) on offense

On defense, a DE, a space eating DT, and another versatile LB if one is available and fits our needs…Peterson won’t be here forever and not sure Nicholas is the guy to replace him full time.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 24th, 2010
11:34 am

Sid — Kerry is coming along well with his rehab. He’s attending meetings and is learning as much as he can.

Larry — Chilll. It’s ok to look ahead. Folks love draft stuff.

JONESBORO SLIM

December 24th, 2010
11:47 am

@Larry….Hey… I’m with you….talking about a draft like the season is over…besides there may not be a 2011 season…come on AJC be for-real

JONESBORO SLIM

December 24th, 2010
11:51 am

@DOL….Keep the focus on the Monday night special….the readers attention spann is short…..I know you can’t say it so I said it for you…Merry merry man

Bird

December 24th, 2010
11:57 am

There’s nothing wrong with talking about the draft, great article. Go Falcons!

JONESBORO SLIM

December 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

@Bird……..Bird we Falcon Fans want you and everyones TOTAL FOCUSED on Monday Night

kaminari

December 24th, 2010
12:07 pm

I’m searching all over for good tidbits about Monday too, but next year’s draft has been on my mind as well. I know the mgmt is thinking about the holes that need to be filled, but what’s cool is that in recent weeks the holes seemed to have fixed themselves. I don’t know if that’s cause of the last two teams we played, but our defense is looking top notch recently. Hopefully pulling in a #32 draft slot, we need to find steals. Good thing TD is running the show. He’s brewing up a dynasty.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Myron Abernathy. Myron Abernathy said: RT @AJCFalcons: Falcons have their early draft board stacked http://bit.ly/ex2Gdl [...]

gadome

December 24th, 2010
12:16 pm

Enter your comments here

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

3 more days. Yeah the simple pick would be the the twin brother of Maurkice Pouncey. Mike Pouncey. I saw Maurkice play last night. He will be a steeler for a long time. This pick relieves stress of drafting. He can play guard until Mcclure retires and then moved to center. Have to protect Matty and give time to hit those deep routes. He can play right away.

gadome

December 24th, 2010
12:25 pm

checking for the third time

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
12:26 pm

Falcons roster is stacked.

nhe

December 24th, 2010
12:32 pm

STL Falcon – you could not be more wrong.

The DE need will be filled via free agency, because almost zero high DE picks have significant impact year one, and we need a pass rush now, we can’t wait for a guy to develop. Unless Clayborne from Iowa falls to us, we won’t go anywhere near a DE early.

Regarding TE – you need to pay attention to what the Pats did last year. They got two GREAT TEs in rounds 2 and 4 last year – the Falcons won’t even turn their attention there until at least round 3 – the position is very deep.

Our first pick will likely be best field stretching offensive playmaker – I think that should be obvious to everyone that that is our top need, especially with Douglas and Norwood both losing their field stretching ability due to ACL injuries.

Our second pick will likely be top OL available, because there is some concern about how many of our free agent linemen – McClure, Dahl, Clabo, may not be back.

gadome

December 24th, 2010
12:36 pm

I can’t post

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
12:36 pm

Just wondering about Jeroius norwood but ERIC WEEMS can be used in the back field as a safety valve. Weems deserves more playing time on offense. bucs called 2 time outs when he came on the field. Weems can get to the first down markers. give matty more weapons.

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
12:41 pm

nhe we still have a young roster and using what we have already is vital. The d line has 2 touchdowns this year. biermann and anderson have produced this year and both are young players.

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
12:44 pm

This team has not even played their best yet.but that is coming. Wait until the end of the year to evaluate bench players because its going to be hard to crack this roster.

DR. FALCON

December 24th, 2010
1:17 pm

TODD MCLURE CAN’T PLAY FOREVER. WE NEED A CENTER. T. GONZALEZ IS WINDING DOWN ALSO! WE DEFINITELY NEED A YOUNG TE THAT CAN STRETCH THE FIELD. A DE TO REPLACE ABRAHAM WOULD ALSO HELP!

Sid

December 24th, 2010
1:25 pm

Thanks for the Meier update D’Led, glad to hear it!!

falconfiend

December 24th, 2010
1:58 pm

yep. meier, sidbury, franks, johnson, shillenger all need to get their feet wet. i’ll tell you the player that i would trade most of my draft picks for would be AJ GREEN. I WOULD TRADE A 1, 2 , 3 TO GET GREEN.

nhe

December 24th, 2010
2:11 pm

falconfiend – you’re making my point – we don’t need to draft another young DL/DE early……..other needs are more pressing.

FalconsFan

December 24th, 2010
3:10 pm

Trade Roddy to the team that’s going to draft Green and their 5th round pick.

DrJ

December 24th, 2010
4:04 pm

I see where the AP has picked Drew Brees as their player of the year, something for our guys to take a bead on, with a little more intensity, come Monday Nite.

alanfalcon

December 24th, 2010
4:35 pm

I’m really amazed that there isn’t any talk about a corner, its schocking because for the past three drafts thats been all the talk.

HERE WE GO- TE,DL,RB,LB,OL,CB and ?., now lets give it a rest we stil have a season to finish of.
GO FALSONS AND GO SOUTHERN RUSH !!!!

bgfalcon

December 24th, 2010
7:51 pm

i say rb from oregon jaquizzz rogers

Paddy O

December 24th, 2010
9:27 pm

Jonesboro – you sort of one dimensional, linear thought guy? Most Falcon fans have the ability to focus on a game 3 days away in addition to contemplating the 2011 draft – which the Cage has been doing for about 2 weeks – some of those guys do a ton of research. I am hoping for a light linebacker/fast safety; a sack master DE, a scat back, and another line backer. We did draft a developmental C last year – but it all depends upon how the draft percolates. Now, this article did not drop any names in the upcoming draft, which would have been handy. Looking at a LB named Carter.

Paddy O

December 24th, 2010
9:31 pm

fiend – we are deep in the receiver corps – we need a scatback & a Palomalo type safety. Grimes & Dunta have played fairly well. Still think moving Babineaux to the DE, with our deep DT rotation, might beef up the pass rush. I would not trade an all pro for a maybe, even a guy with such a high potential as Green. We should have signed Julius Peppers.

ant banks

December 24th, 2010
9:41 pm

ORLANDO FORGET LARRY,

i bet that the patriots, steelers, eagles are lookin’ forward. monday night will take care of itself. there is nothin’ that we can do about that. players are ready, x’s and o’s are drawn up…let’s look ahead to next year also.

larry you are a shortsighted individual.

chickenman

December 25th, 2010
11:27 am

Draft AJ GREEN

BOOGIES THE MAN FROM HARTWELL GA

December 25th, 2010
11:52 am

Let’s hop M.V. gets bit by a rabid dog and goes away.

todd

December 25th, 2010
12:33 pm

Enter your comments here

chipontheroad birdsrus

December 25th, 2010
1:10 pm

I like TD and MS to choose wisely,as they are apt to do, best man on the board, O or D, as they see fit, men with all of the intangibles, character, speed etc…

todd

December 25th, 2010
1:12 pm

Falcons being a run first team IS NOT A MYTH. Statistics in all sports can lie. Ryan may be 6th in the league in attempts but this is due to him not missing any games or being replaced due to ineffectiveness. Also, Atlanta leads the league in total number of offensive plays which in turn leads to more attempts as well. They are 5th in rushing attemps and 10th in passing attempts. You have to dig a little further to find the underlying truth behind the stat.

chipontheroad birdsrus

December 25th, 2010
1:15 pm

“Merry Christmas” D-Led how u like my run on sentence

todd

December 25th, 2010
1:23 pm

I think that RB is a bigger need than most people think. Lets get a guy with speed that can break longer runs. I’ve seen a lot of runs by Turner where you can see a hole there but it takes him too long to get to it. You would really have an offense then.

Mike is back

December 25th, 2010
2:10 pm

Dled, Great Stuff, very grateful to have TD in the ATL…love the kid Biermann…I almost called him Bird Man…dude starting to concern me…with these penalties…I love his energy…but when it’s hurting the team…THAT’S TOO MUCH…U expect him to be more discipline then that.

Brian Hunt

December 25th, 2010
10:34 pm

Todd, this team WANTS to be a run first offense, but it’s not. They’re only averaging 3.9 yards per rush attempt, which is tied for 22nd in the league. The running game is not as effective as it should be. The rushing DVOA has been declining all season. A lot of it has to do with the lack of athletes on the O-Line. Our Offensive line coach is making due. They’re great as a unit, but none of them is dominant individually.