Archive for April, 2011

NFL tells Falcons to resume business on Friday

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has to open back up the facilities tomorrow at 8 a.m.  (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has to open back up the facilities tomorrow at 8 a.m. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The National Football League notified the 32 teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, on Thursday that they can resume business operations starting at 8 a.m. Friday.

The league, embroiled in a bitter labor dispute with the NFLPA, was forced to lift the lockout after Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in favor of the players, granting a preliminary injunction on Monday. She denied the league’s motion to stay her decision on Wednesday.

While the league plans to exhaust its legal moves by requesting that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grant a stay of the preliminary injunction while waiting to hear their motion for an appeal, they are going to comply with the Nelson’s order to lift the lockout.

“Pending further guidance from the Eighth Circuit, we believe it is appropriate for clubs to take additional steps in response to the preliminary injunction,” The league …

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Mike Mayock’s 2011 Mock Draft

Adrian Clayborn of Iowa takes down Penn State QB Daryll Clark during the 2008 season. (Associated Press)

Mike Mayock has the Falcons taking Iowa's Adrian Clayborn (above). He's not likely headed here. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND — Here’s NFL Network draft analyst  Mike Mayock’s  2011 Mock Draft.

He has the Falcons taking Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

Our information is that Clayborn is not headed to Atlanta because they like to flip flop their ends and  Clayborn, with his weaker arm from Erb’s Palsy he can only play on the right side. That is John Abraham’s side.

MIKE MAYOCK’S 2011 MOCK DRAFT

1.    Carolina Panthers                   Cam Newton               QB       Auburn

2.    Denver Broncos                      Von Miller                    LB        Texas A&M

3.    Buffalo Bills                             Marcell Dareus           DT       Alabama

4.    Cincinnati Bengals                  A.J. Green                  WR      Georgia

5.    Arizona Cardinals                    Patrick Peterson         CB       LSU

6.    Cleveland Browns                   Julio …

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Top 10 players by position for the NFL draft

Former Auburn quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton appears headed to Carolina. (Associated Press)

Former Auburn quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton appears headed to Carolina. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND – Here are the links to the final draft board.

You can make your own tiers.

Top 10 defensive backs
Top 10 defensive linemen
Top 10 special teamers
Top 10 quarterbacks
Top 10 wide receivers
Top 10 linebackers
Top 10 offensive linemen
Top 10 tight ends
Top 10 running backs

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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

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Final Mock Draft: Ryan Mallett is dropping like a lead rock

Arkansas' Ryan Mallet drop to the second round of the draft.  (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Arkansas' Ryan Mallet drop to the second round of the draft. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

UPDATED — To reflect Von Miller moving up to the No. 2 and Marcell Dareus moving down to No. 3. 9:32 a.m.

BIRDLAND – Here’s the final Mock Draft.

If the Falcons retain the 27th pick in the first round of the NFL draft, they should be on the clock around 11 p.m. Thursday.

While their options likely will include Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed, Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith and Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod, look for them to select UCLA defensive end/linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Here’s a look at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s final 2011 mock draft.

1. Carolina: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. Newton will get a chance to join the elite quarterbacks of the NFC South in New Orleans’ Drew Brees, the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the up-and-coming Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay.

2. Denver: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M. Word leaking out of Denver is that John Fox …

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Video: Falcons draft preview

Continue reading Video: Falcons draft preview »

Birds could go up to get Julio Jones, Green costs too much

Alabama's Julio Jones (8) makes a catch for a touchdown as Georgia's Bryan Evans defends during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Alabama's Julio Jones (8) makes a catch for a touchdown as Georgia's Bryan Evans defends during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

BIRDLAND –   The bat phone has been shake, rattling and rolling all day on vibrate.

No, the Falcons are not getting ready to mortgage the future to get Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green. The cost to get up into the top five is prohibitive.

It would cost the Falcons’ their first round pick this year, their first, second and third next year.

However, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones could be in play.

Here’s how that can happen.

Jones has to slip outside of the top 10. Most have him going to Cleveland at No. 6, but the Browns may go defense and take LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

If Houston, which needs secondary help, takes Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara with the 11the pick. The Detroit Lions, who pick 13th, could be looking to trade out of their spot.

The …

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Falcons elect to stay away from the team’s facilities

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. They are facing an uphill legal battle, according to one attorney. Players could be back at work as early as Monday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. They are facing an uphill legal battle, according to one attorney. Players could be back at work as early as Monday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Despite the lockout being temporarily lifted, the Atlanta Falcons elected to stay away from the team’s facilities on Tuesday.

“There are no plans to return to the facilities of which I am aware,” Falcons linebacker Coy Wire wrote in a text to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the team’s player representative.

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White also said that he wasn’t sure what the players would do.

No one showed up and nobody was expected to report, according to a team spokesperson.

The player’s parking lot was empty.

Some players around the league did report for work.

Buffalo defensive back Leodis McKelvin, who’s from Waycross, told the Associated Press that he was stopped at a security desk and that a team official told …

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Future Falcons: The Akeem Ayers file

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND – With the 27th pick in the NFL draft, the Falcons could select UCLA defensive end/linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Here’s a quick look at Ayers:

Hometown: Los Angeles

High school: Verbum Dei

Height: 6-4.

Weight: 255

Age: 21 (July 10, 1989)

UCLA: He decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He earned second-team All-American honors from the Walter Camp Foundation in 2010. He was slowed by shoulder and toe injuries last season, but still managed 10 tackles for loss and four sacks while playing defensive end and linebacker. As a sophomore, he had six sacks and four interceptions. He scored three touchdowns that season — two on interceptions and one on a fumble return.

HIGH SCHOOL: Letter three years and played defensive end, linebacker and wide receiver. He was a four-star recruit by scout.com and rivals.com. He made 94 tackles as a senior, including 22 in one game. At …

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2011 Beat Writer’s Mock Draft: Falcons land Akeem Ayers

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND – Early in the draft week, the annual beat writer’s mock draft is a must read. Over the years, it’s been the most accurate mock out there is a world that has become full of mindless mocks.

Over the last few days, the beat writers have been sharing  information about what their teams are going to do. I cut out most of that background data and will just present you all with the facts. Another key mock to monitor is the Sporting New Mock. Click here!

In this mock, the Falcons end up with UCLA’s Akeem Ayers, who played linebacker and defensive end for the Bruins. When they select on Thursday, they will be picking from Ayers, Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith and Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod. It’s starting to look like Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn will be off the board.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton responds to a question during a news conference during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton responds to …

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Judge Nelson rules in favor of players in lockout battle

Photo by AP (File) Judge Susan Nelson. This undated photo courtesy of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota shows U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

Photo by AP (File) Judge Susan Nelson. This undated photo courtesy of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota shows U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the NFL’s lockout of its players on Monday, ruling in a 89-page decision that players are suffering irreparable harm by being barred from playing football.

Nelson granted the players a preliminary injunction that ends the lockout which was invoked in early March. The league immediately announce that it was appealing the decision.

“We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson,” said NFLPA attorney James W. Quinn in a statement. “We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this …

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