5 things we know about the Falcons’ draft

Athens, GA:  UGA linebacker Akeem Dent runs a drill for NFL scouts uring UGA's Pro Day March 22, 2011.  Brant Sanderlin  bsanderlin@ajc.com

Athens, GA: UGA linebacker Akeem Dent runs a drill for NFL scouts uring UGA's Pro Day March 22, 2011. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

BIRDLAND – The NFL draft is right around the corner and some issues are starting clear up.

Here are 5 things we know about the Falcons’ draft:

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1. No trade winds blowing:
The Falcons are set to hold onto the 27th pick. They want to improve their talent level and are certain there will be some help available. They’ll listen to calls, but the offer will have to be awesome.

2. Sackmaster Jr. is on the way: This draft is considered extremely deep at the defensive end position and John Abraham isn’t getting any younger. The Falcons will likely have a shot at selecting Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh’s Jabaal Sheard, Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt or UCLA’s Akeem Ayers. As the draft nears, I’m leaning toward the versatile Ayers as the Falcons pick for my final mock draft. He played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins and was a destructive force.

3. Wide receiver help is on the way: We keep hearing how much the Falcons love Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan. He’s fast and he’s tough. If he’s still there at No. 59, they likely won’t waste much time turning in his card. Also, Fort Valley State’s Ricardo Lockette and Georgia’s Kris Durham could be added late or as free agents if they go undrafted.

4. Linebacker card will get turned in: The Falcons have to take a linebacker. Stephen Nicholas could likely get starter money on the open market and Mike Peterson isn’t getting any younger. They would like to re-sign both at

Troy wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan (3) and Terrell Bailey (9) celebrate the Trojans first touchdown against LSU during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Troy wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan (3) and Terrell Bailey (9) celebrate the Trojans first touchdown against LSU during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

their price. Denver and Detroit are reportedly set to make bids for Nicholas whenever free agency hits. So look for the Falcons to consider Georgia’s Akeem Dent in the mid-rounds. They also have thick files on California’s Mike Mohamed and Oregon’s Casey Matthews.

5.  Speed back is coming: The Falcons want explosive plays on offense. They wanted running back Jerious Norwood to fill that role, but he’s had trouble staying healthy. Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray, West Virginia’s Noel Devine and Louisville’s Bilal Powell are possibilities.

Another sub-plot: Will Dimitroff again steer clear of the Big 10 conference?

With 26 draft selections in three years at the helm for the Falcons, Dimitroff, the two-time Sporting News executive of the year, has drafted players from 10 conferences (0 from the mighty and slow Big 10!).

Below is the breakdown:

SEC: CB Chevis Jackson (LSU), RB Thomas Brown (Georgia), TE

Keith Zinger (LSU), DT Peria Jerry (Mississippi), DT Corey Peters

(Kentucky) and OL Mike Johnson (Alabama).

Big 12: LB Curtis Lofton (Oklahoma), S William Moore (Missouri), LB Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri), CB Dominique Franks (Oklahoma) and WR Kerry Meier (Kansas).

Pac-10: OT Sam Baker (USC), S Thomas DeCoud (California), LB Robert James (Arizona State) and CB Wilrey Fontenot (Arizona).

ACC: QB Matt Ryan (Boston College), OT Garrett Reynolds (North

Carolina), LB Spencer Adkins (Miami) and DT Vance Walker (Georgia Tech).

Big Sky: DE Kroy Biermann (Montana) and Shann Schillinger (Montana).

Big East: WR Harry Douglas (Louisville).

Western Athletic: CB Chris Owens (San Jose State).

Atlanticc 10: DE Lawrence Sidbury (Richmond).

Southern Conference: CB William Middleton (Furman).

Mountain West: C Joe Hawley (UNLV).

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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109 comments Add your comment

buckhead benny

April 22nd, 2011
11:20 am

The falcons must not be very high Sidbury at DE- This would be his upcoming third year- Does anyone have any updates on Sidbury?

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
11:28 am

I’m pushing for Okla. RB DeMarco Murray..the young man has speed @ 4.3 forty.. can turn the corner…catches the ball coming out of the backfield…this guy will be a pick where the Falcons get two for one RB/Slot receiver….should be still there in the middle second round….

Poppa Falcon

April 22nd, 2011
11:40 am

Now u just got me KRUNK, DOL! People must not have read the memo where Dimitroff & Smith have verbally said that they are looking for ‘PLAYMAKERS’ & ‘EXPLOSION’ in this yrs draft & FA! That ‘LOOK’ in Arthur Blanks EYES after that loss to the Packers had ‘let’s get this DONE’ written ALL OVER IT.

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
11:42 am

Whoever the falcan’ts select with their first round pick, he will end up being a frequent star on the “injured” list maybe even the injured reserve list. If they were smart, they’d draft a top notch orthopedic surgeon, I’m sure the falcan’ts would keep him busy.

FalconsFan284

April 22nd, 2011
11:43 am

I’ve been on the Mike Mohammed band wagon for a few months now. He would be a great pick. Also, I think Jonathan Baldwin may still be available when the Falcons pick in the second. He’s a natural fit in our scheme and would start ahead of Mike “Mr. Unspectacular” Jenkins. Put Demarco Murray in that group and you have yourself a great draft!

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
11:44 am

Since defense is such a high priorty look for the Falcons to go for a “free agent” DE someone who can be plugged in ASAP

STB4 Watchdog

April 22nd, 2011
11:48 am

Yawn. Another myopic irrational quote from the wannabe antagonistic brainless sludgeball that is Seen This B4. Put the cheetos down and let’s talk football, faker. What a DOLT!

Reid Adair

April 22nd, 2011
11:49 am

Great draft report, D-Led. All of those are great possibilities for the Falcons. I’m sure Thomas Dimitroff and the staff are fully prepared.

LED

April 22nd, 2011
11:53 am

Tom Brady and Charles Woodson. BIG TEN! Drop the slow stuff. That stereotype is about as old as black people and fried chicken. ON TO THE NEXT ONE please!

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

I live in my mom’s basement. I have a real doll of Drew Brees.

FalconsFan

April 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

SeenThisB4, you are a funny dude! I know you like the Falcons but you just don’t want to admit it:) Anyway, I hope the Saints have a better year but yet stay close behind the Falcons.

The Real Falcon

April 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

This I like.
Except no TE’s

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

Falcan’tsFan: Look man, I go out of my way not to sling personal insults at any individual falcan’t fans, so for you to lash out at me with a low blow like that (that I like the falcan’ts) is completely unwarranted and classless.

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
12:02 pm

I like to cry and use words like unwarranted and classless when describing my team. The AINTS!

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
12:03 pm

SeenThisB4…So your Saints are starting off the season playing a team far more superior than A$$ whipping you got in Seattle…and yes they beat us…but your Saints are nothing like they were when they won the SB…the NFL has caught up to you since then…the Falcons and the Bucs will beat you 3 of 4 games so sit back and chill while looking up from the bottom of the division holding hands with Carolina

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
12:04 pm

Jonesboro Slim.

I know. We are going to be bad this yr. Our gimick offense is not going to work.

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
12:07 pm

SeenThisB4

Very true

Marcus

April 22nd, 2011
12:08 pm

DOL,
I like the DeMarco Murray pick …….. I hope Dimitroff will look at a HBCU sleeper (RB Phillip Sylvester wink, wink).

Also a correction: For Sidbury, Univ. of Richmond plays in the CAA (Colonial Ath. Association) for football. A-10 is their basketball conf. affiliation.

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
12:09 pm

Jonesboro: Go ahead and pose as me, but for pete’s sake, don’t have a conversation with yourself!

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

SeenThisB4

Pleaszzzzzzzzzzzzz

SeenThisB4

April 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

LOL! Just get that medical treatment room up to par and fully stocked! By the way, have a paramedic on hand on draft night, the next falcan’t number 1 might need immediate treatment for anxiety, depression and suicidal tendency, when he finds out he’s heading to Flowery Branch! LOL!

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
12:20 pm

SeenThisB4

Yea the medical team that put Thomas and Bush back together for that playoff game in Seattle…and how is that fellow that was run over by the Seattle running back on his way for that TD..he ran over him like a car hitting road kill

hiramsaint

April 22nd, 2011
12:36 pm

out of the 5 , only 2 are important—1 they will be pronies and 2 they will statistically be a bust.[matty melt as a prime example]-0-2 in the playoffs with an embarassing 2nd qtr.concession to a far superior wildcard team. yes , the pack only re-itterated what the saints had proven. you are very very beatable in that circus tent that poses as a dome

DJ Sniper

April 22nd, 2011
12:44 pm

So funny to hear Saints fans talking smack about us getting beat by the eventual SB champs, yet they got beat by a damn 7-9 playoff team.

DOL, I’ve read some rumors about Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin having some red flags. Have you heard anything about that? If it’s nothing too serious, I’d like to see him get drafted. He’s got the size and speed to add the explosive element to our offense.

Threadkiller

April 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

I thought I read somewhere that Washington does not have a second or third round pic. Anyone know if this correct? Why not offer Washington to swap with us, so we can move up, and we’ll throw them our 3rd round pick??

hiramsaint

April 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

even funnier is that you were the #1 seed and the pack was #6 and you raised the white flag in the 2nd qtr.—-with a healthy team

Threadkiller

April 22nd, 2011
12:53 pm

I looked it up and appears Washington does not have a 3rd or 4th round pick. Maybe a deal can be made??

BirdFanscout

April 22nd, 2011
12:56 pm

We need to address the OL somewhere in the draft. There is no way they can keep everyone on the OL. Now I know there have been some attention later in previous drafts, but we need a dozer type guard to run behind and would wear down the interior DL.

If we lose our RT then tackle has to be a priority. Baker on the left will not be healthy all year so tackle concerns me for both sides of OL. I base my concern for Baker because he hasn’t been fully healthy since we drafted him.

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
12:59 pm

hiramsaint

So you changed your name…but speaking of things funny..I’m still laughing when Saints #22 Porter was run over by Seattle’s Washington in the playoff game you do remember that don’t you?…in fact the word is that TV broadcasters will now refer to a player being run over to “HE GOT PORTERED” LOL

BirdFanscout

April 22nd, 2011
1:04 pm

Speed on offense and defense is needed. Give Matty the tools and he will pick other teams apart. He is pretty accurate with what we have now. Speed, speed, speed. Go for it in the draft and UDFA. Just get speed.

Another wish I have is TD goes after FBIQ and not Wonderlic/SAT scores. It is good that he believes in the players who graduate, but we want a SB, not to attend an alumni meeting.

Oh and did I mention SPEED!

Ken Strickland

April 22nd, 2011
1:07 pm

Based on the above article, it appears that TD and Smitty might wait until next yr to address the TE issue. TE is a position where teams have consistently gotten some very positive results starting rookies. Also, giving Sheard and Ayers serious consideration shows that TD and Smitty are more interested in players with versatility and the ability to rush the passer from various positions, than players with more traditional DE skills.

That’s what they did with JAbraham the yr he had those 16.5 sacks. When a team can move one of its primary pass rushers around, it makes it all but impossible for OFF’s to set their double team and blocking assignments in the huddle to account for him/them. It appears that the only FA’s the Falcons are concerned about losing are CB BGrimes and RB JSnelling, since they are the only ones to receive FA tenders.

It also appears that getting younger, quicker, faster and more production, at RB, WR, LB and DE is our primary goal. I guess the rest of the draft will focuse on providing depth, especially for our OL. This could end up being the last season for 3 of our oldest players, TE TGonzalez, OC TMcClure and OLB MPeterson. We’ve already released CB BWilliams and WR BFinneran.

We could end up being the youngest, fastest and quickest Super Bowl contender, or winner, in NFL history.

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:09 pm

with an embarassing 2nd qtr.concession to a far superior wildcard team.

Sounds like New Orleans losing to Seattle….

Olik

April 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

DOL – you don’t mention anything about the O-line. Our starting O-line last year is 3 FAs, an old C and an average-at-best LT. Even though we’ve drafted Reynolds, Johnson and Hawley the past couple years, there’s still a BIG gap in signed talent. You don’t see another OT as critical?

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

So funny to hear Saints fans talking smack about us getting beat by the eventual SB champs, yet they got beat by a damn 7-9 playoff team.

Yep, called a one year wonder. They’ll spend this year getting beat on by us and the Bucs. Better hope they haven’t run out of paper bags for the fans to wear to games, LOL….

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
1:16 pm

BIG RAY

LOL LOL

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:16 pm

New Orleans can afford an NFL team, but not blogs for its fans….so they come here and plague us with their BS.

It’s like welfare or something….

hiramsaint

April 22nd, 2011
1:17 pm

big ray doesn,t appear to remember last year very well and kennth is still talking the same guff as last year about going to the superbowl. i,ve told you and told about matty melt and smitty.i suppose you believe obama will fix the economy also !

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:18 pm

Jonesboro slim ,

Yeah that was hilarious. Dude got run SLAP over…

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
1:18 pm

Somebody said they’re ordering “brown bags” in New Orleans……..

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:19 pm

i suppose you believe obama will fix the economy also !

I’ll settle for him giving you Saints fans your own blog, LOL

DJ Sniper

April 22nd, 2011
1:21 pm

You have to go back and hear the announcer during that run where he says “Get OFF me, Tracy Porter!” as Marshawn Lynch stiff arms him all the way into the next state. lol

Hiram, we can argue semantics all day, but the bottom line is that we got beat by a team that went on to win the SB, while ya’ll got beat by a team whose record actually caused consideration to changing the playoff seeding.

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:21 pm

Hiramsaint will be remembering “last year” for several years….

Might be good for his sanity considering what’s coming…losing to Seattle was only the beginning….OOPS, did that happen THIS YEAR? Last year came and went, biznitches…

Big Ray

April 22nd, 2011
1:22 pm

Hiram, we can argue semantics all day, but the bottom line is that we got beat by a team that went on to win the SB, while ya’ll got beat by a team whose record actually caused consideration to changing the playoff seeding.

Exactly. Can’t trash talk ya way outta THAT one…

Ken Strickland

April 22nd, 2011
1:22 pm

BIRDFANSCOUT-They need to do a survey on the number of players that excelled on the Wonderlick tests, and flunked the NFL, and the number that flunked the Wonderlick and has excelled in the NFL. These players are good enough to get invited to the combine, based on their outstanding college performances and abilities, and all of a sudden all of this is for naught because of some standardised test?

All of these players have demonstrated, to varing degrees, a unique ability to make split second decisions under extreme mental and physical circumstances. I remember hearing a lecture that was presented by AG Gasdsden, a Black millionaire from Birmingham, AL who never finished high school. When questioned about his lack of a high school or college education, he answered, WOULD YOU RATHER BE ABLE TO SAY I AM A HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GRADUATE, OR I “IS” A MILLIONAIRE.

What one does on a football is light yrs more important than what one does on some standardized test.

fanatic Falc

April 22nd, 2011
1:25 pm

Have the Falcons talked to DeMarco Murray???

hiramsaint

April 22nd, 2011
1:33 pm

wow ray- i’m impressed ! a real #1 seed should go on to win it all ,like the saints did , instead of throwing up the white flag in the second qtr against the #6 seed packers. it seems as though a winning season is now enough for a team and fanbase who embraces and celebrates mediocrity. rise up is now-choked again and should remain as such with meltdown matty and smitty the peroxide bandit running things. glorious times so far aren’t they at 0-2

Ken Strickland

April 22nd, 2011
1:47 pm

BIG RAY-You are too cruel. But wait, you were talking about AINT FANS weren’t you, NEVER MIND. Man, I’d really love to meet and spend some serious time talking with you some day.

This is another example of how AINT FANS think, or should I say don’t/won’t/can’t think. HIRAMAINT called our Pro Bowl QB MATTY MELT, just because he lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champs, even though he made the Probowl, again, and won the NFC Division with an NFL best 13-3(tied)record.

Now if that makes him a MATTY MELT, what do you call an AINT QB that was runner up to MATTY MELT in the division, made the playoffs as a wildcard, and participated in the most embarrassing one of a kind playoff loss in NFL playoff history?

I guess when you’re a fan of a team that went an NFL record 25 consecutive yrs without a winning season, wore bags over their heads and renamed their own team the AINTS, how much more embarrassed can they possibly be over a playoff loss to a 7-9 team. IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
1:48 pm

Fanatic Falc

I haven’t heard the Falcons mention the name of DeMarco Murray…But I for one am hoping the Falcons get him in the second round as I said earlier he has the speed 4.3 forty can catch the ball out of the backfield and can be used in the slot..plus he’s got great moves…..

DJ Sniper

April 22nd, 2011
1:50 pm

My only concern about Murray is his injury history.

JONESBORO SLIM

April 22nd, 2011
1:52 pm

I just hope all of you bloggers “MEET ME ON THE HILL” this year