Video: Atlanta Falcons’ draft needs



The Atlanta Falcons’ first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft is not until the second round. CineSport’s Noah Coslov and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter discuss their draft plans.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Despite some cyberspace angst from the fan-base, Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff contended that franchise has been rather active this offseason leading into the draft.

He noted that the team has made 15 moves.

“We’ve been aggressive as far as taking care of what we needed to take care of, keeping our core together,” Dimitroff said. The team is now focused on the draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday in New York.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the team’s needs:

Quarterback: The Falcons re-signed Chris Redman to serve as Matt Ryan’s backup. Redman turns 35 in July and John Parker Wilson did not play well during the last exhibition season. The Falcons could take a quarterback in the seventh round to come in to challenge Wilson and be in line to replace Redman down the road. Tennessee-Chattanooga’ B.J. Coleman and Southern Mississippi’s Austin Davis are prospective late-round candidates.

Running back: Michael Turner is entering the last year of his contract. Second-year man Jacquizz Rodgers will get a bigger piece of the pie. With the re-signing of Jason Snelling and the recovery from knee surgery of Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli, the backfield is not a major priority. However, the team has worked out Virginia Tech running back David Wilson. “I think he’s the fourth best back in this draft,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said.

Tight end: With future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez nearing the end of his career, the Falcons have heavily scouted the tight ends. They are intrigued with Louisiana-Lafayette’s LaDarius Green and Cincinnati’s Adrien Robinson.

Wide receiver: After making the five-for-one trade with Cleveland last season to pick up Julio Jones and re-signing Harry Douglas this offseason, the Falcons are set at their top three spots. They could take a receiver late with return skills to replace former Pro Bowler Eric Weems, who signed with Chicago in free agency.

Offensive line: The Falcons must improve their pass protection in order to successfully implement new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s vertical passing attack. They want to run the ball more efficiently in short-yardage situations. They will likely take a tackle in case Sam Baker [back, elbow] does not return to good health. The rookie could provide depth and eventually compete for playing time with Baker and Will Svitek. California left tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been heavily scouted by the Falcons. Also, small-school guard Amini Silatolu from Midwestern State is a possibility.

Defensive line: The Falcons re-signed defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann in free agency. Abraham turns 34 on May 6 and Biermann has just 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons after getting five in 2009. Ray Edwards had 3.5 sacks last season, his lowest output since his rookie season in 2006. The Falcons could take a defensive end in the second round and they’ve been looking at some heftier nose tackles as they’ll likely play more three-man fronts under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Linebacker: Curtis Lofton, who led the team in tackles in each of last three seasons, signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Akeem Dent, a third-round pick last season, will compete with free agent signee Lofa Tatupu to replace him. Dent starred on special teams last season, while Tatupu, a former three-time Pro Bowler, did not play. Sean Weatherspoon, who appears headed for Pro Bowl status, and Stephen Nicholas return. They could add another linebacker, with pass rushing skills, for depth.

Defensive back: The pass defense gave up 236.6 yards, which ranked 20th in the league last season. The Falcons have worked out intriguing Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who can play corner, but has the size of a safety, which could help their nickel packages. They re-signed safety Thomas DeCoud, but lost some depth when cornerback Kelvin Hayden (Chicago) and safety James Sanders (Arizona) left in free agency.

Special teams: The Falcons are set at punter with Matt Bosher and will try to get another solid year out of Matt Bryant, who turns 37 in May. A gaping hole on the special teams units was left with the departure of Eric Weems in free agency. The former Pro Bowler was the team’s top punt and kickoff returner for the past three seasons.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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22 comments Add your comment

[...] Video: Atlanta Falcons' draft needsAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The Atlanta Falcons' first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft is not until the second round. CineSport's Noah Coslov and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter discuss their draft plans. FLOWERY BRANCH ? Despite some cyberspace angst from the …and more » [...]

dom

April 19th, 2012
6:43 pm

I don’t get the Falcons’ interest in Mitchell Schwartz. The guy sounds like Sam Baker 2.0 – short arms (although a little longer than Baker’s) and a history of back problems. Have we learned no lessons from our first round picks with injury history (Baker, Jerry)? I don’t see a quality OT at our pick, but we might pick up a decent G – this draft seems deeper with talent there.

anotherdawg

April 19th, 2012
6:43 pm

Tempting, but no, I’l just say Go Falcons and Go Dawgs!

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10 of 12

April 19th, 2012
9:14 pm

An outside and objective view-qb and head coach first. Look at the Saints as your paradyme of hope . We’re 3 deep at head coach !

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 20th, 2012
2:12 am

Dom — You are correct. This draft is deeper at guard. I’m considering switching to Midwestern State’s Amini Salitulo. He’s a nasty boy. Here’s Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert (I call him SOLID GOLD because he’s always on the money) on the oline prospects for this year: “It’s a little different (than 2011). It’s a little better on the interior, specifically at guard, which is unusual than it has been in recent years. Tackles are still good. It’s not as deep as it has been, and center is not very deep.”

YungFalconatiC

April 20th, 2012
2:58 am

The birds should be tryin 2 pick up asante samuels…that would b great 4 our secondary an defense period..

dom

April 20th, 2012
5:13 am

Yeah D-Led, I like Salitulo better (although durability still a concern) – and he certainly looks like he could bring back the mean streak we lost with Dahl. I know the Falcons already have a lot of young guards on the roster but with this draft there may be a player too good there to pass up. I would love for Kevin Zeitler to fall within striking range but I see him creeping up towards the first round in some mocks now so that’s looking like a pipe dream. I think Solid Gold is dead right – and there’s a big drop in talent level at C once Konz is off the board.

Jeff B

April 20th, 2012
11:53 am

There will be quality O-line prospects to pick from at #55, ideally guys that can compete at both T and G. I’m liking what I’m hearing about guys like Salitulo and Osemele…

JtotheD83

April 20th, 2012
5:58 pm

Shout out to Ledbetter. Been reading for awhile but never posted. First off, Thanks. No one is doing a better job than you my man. Keep it up. Second… How do you feel about Brandon Boykins? I mean the likelihood of him being available at 55 seems low to me but I’ve seen a few mocks that have the Lions taking him at 54. If he is on the board I can’t see TD passing him up. Then again, I’m just a hardcore fan not a GM of a soon to be NATIONALLY beloved NFL franchise ( dreaming big about that Hard Knocks offer ). What do you think about it ? Also let me throw this out there…

I think the Falcons shouldn’t draft a single offensive lineman. Sure there were problems but I truly believe the solution has already entered our doors. In fact i’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the whole fan base should start calling Mr. Hill “The Solution”. If HBO uses that, I don’t want any royalties, just some 50 yard line row 1 seats ya dig ? Haha. Seriously though. I think we should pick up a TE and a RB for the O only. Give the rest of the picks to Nolan. Unless we can snag Kellen Moore in the 6th or even the 7th. There is your backup! He already showed the Georgia Dome whats up. And didnt some other 6th round QB work out for some other team that TD used to be the water boy for or something. : )

Lawdhammercy

April 20th, 2012
6:24 pm

Why not take Brandon Boykins in 2nd round or an OT. Brandon is a threat in the return game and an SEC corner. He’ll be a great addition to our secondary.

Blake

April 21st, 2012
1:32 am

Dominique Franks can handle the punt return duties!

Nique

April 21st, 2012
6:03 am

Agreed Blake!!!

I’m starting to feel that we won’t get a starter with our 2cnd round pick, but a player we’ll have to wait on, who will eventually replace someone. With 2 new cordinators I’m hope this isn’t true, but it’s the feeling I get. This positively speaks to the depth on the roster but concerns me because in spite of that depth, this team has some pretty obvious flaws! (Tackle, DE, maybe MLB we’ll see, & I’m not sold on our Srong side LB, or FS either). I’m starting to get the feeling DT is a real possibility at 2, which I’d be fine with. This would spell the end for Jerry with the birds if he doesn’t pick it up this year, which I’d also be ok with!

Chub Rock

April 21st, 2012
1:57 pm

My picks Osemele OT 2nd RD and Alameda NT in the 3rd. James Hanna TE in the 5th Devon Wylie WR in the 6th. Kory Toomer OLB and Kournei Brown DE in the 7th. And sign a veteran free agent safety.

Chub Rock

April 21st, 2012
4:49 pm

I meant Massie at LT. Osemele is straight garbage!

Chub Rock

April 21st, 2012
4:50 pm

The more film I watch the worst these guys look LOL on the O-line.

hbcuclassics

April 21st, 2012
6:49 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 Draft Preview:

WR, LaQuinton Evans, Southern

http://www.hbcuclassics.com/hbcu_showcase

Chub Rock

April 21st, 2012
8:39 pm

The tough thing about HBCU players is the talent level they face, which is poor. Some of the guys in this video don’t belong on a football field until halftime. Looking at the film I thought wow this kid is 6′4-6′5 because he looks so much bigger than the opponent then I checked his height and he’s just under 6′1. He might get a call after the draft.

riggo

April 22nd, 2012
4:56 pm

Pick up Samuel move Dunta to safety!!!!

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hbcuclassics

April 22nd, 2012
7:21 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 Draft Preview:

WR, Mario Louis, Grambling
#1 WR in HBCU Football

http://www.hbcuclassics.com/​hbcu_showcase

Matt

April 22nd, 2012
8:56 pm

We need to get some brothers on the O Line. I’m just saying we look like the patriots out there.