BIRDLAND – ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is getting revved up for three days of draft coverage April 28 through 30.
On Wednesday, he was gracious enough to do a conference call with the media and he stayed on the line for about two hours. The key to Kiper’s conference call is to be early and press *1 before it even starts. That’s what I did and I was still 14th in line.
I asked him what will be available to the Falcons with the 27th pick in the first round.
“They need somebody who can be a sack artist,” Kiper said. “Adrian Clayborn, a defensive end from Iowa, is a guy that I’ve had there for the last two projections that I’ve done. Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue should be there. They want a pass rusher. A guy that is explosive and can get after the quarterback. Obviously, you don’t want your 3-4 ends there, you want your 4-3 ends.”
In the second round, the Falcons are likely to take a wide receiver off the board.
“They want somebody who is explosive at wide receiver,” Kiper said. “Jernigan is a guy that I project to them at 59. If you’re looking for another wideout, there’s Titus Young from Boise State. Those would be some guys that are still there.
Randall Cobb from Kentucky could still be on the board. Torrey Smith from Maryland.”
The Falcons could also go offensive tackle in the second round. Kiper noted that Alabama’s James Carpenter and Villanova’s Ben Ijalana could be available.
In the third round, Kiper is projecting that the Falcon will take a running back. He likes Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray.
Kiper knows that the Falcons want to spice up their offense.
“This was a team that just had to move slowly down the field and had a lot of close games last year,” Kiper said. “Now, they need that quick-strike ability. That’s something they were lacking and they need to get.”
So, Kiper is projecting Clayborn, Jernigan and Murray for the Falcons.
“They need somebody to compliment Abraham,” Kiper said. “If they can improve the defensive line, get a wide receiver and a speed back, they’d be in a lot better shape than they are right now.”
ADRIAN CLAYBORN, 6-foot-2 5/8, 281 pounds: He has Erb’s Palsy in his right arm. It’s a condition suffered during birth. His right arm is weaker. He’s from St. Louis. He dominated against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5, 2010.
JERREL JERNIGAN, 5-8 7/8, 185: He’s run a low of 4.32 in the 40-yard dash and a high of 4.55. He’s a move/slot receiver in the Percy Harvin mold. He played quarterback in high school and was used in Troy’s version of the Dirty Bird (Wildcat). He led Eufaula (Ala.) High School to two Region 5A championships, 2005 and 2006.
DeMARCUS MURRAY, 5-11, 5/8, 213: Set school records for all-purpose yards (6,948 yards) and touchdowns (64). Has been clocked 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. He’s considered an excellent receiver out of the backfield with outstanding long speed. Slightly bigger than Jerious Norwood (6-0, 205).
2011 NFL DRAFT ORDER FOR THE ATLANTA FALCONS
27. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
59. Atlanta Falcons
91. Atlanta Falcons
124. Atlanta Falcons
158. Atlanta Falcons
192. Atlanta Falcons
209. Atlanta Falcons (from Detroit in the Chris Houston trade)
228. Atlanta Falcons
229. Atlanta Falcons (from New England in the Quinn Ojinnaka trade)
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog