Archive for April, 2012

VIDEO: Top 5 running back prospects

Trent Richardson and Doug Martin are among the top RBs in this year’s NFL Draft. CineSport’s Noah Coslov & Sporting News’ Russ Lande discuss which top running backs can be franchise players.

Player                           Ht                        Wt                            School         Proj. Rd

1. Trent Richardson 5-9                227                           Alabama                    1st

Comment: Because of his running and pass catching ability, Richardson has the potential to become a featured back.

2. Doug Martin 5-9                 220                           Boise State                 2nd

Comment: “Martin is one of the strongest running backs I’ve come across in years,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. Bench pressed 225 pounds just 28 times at the combine.

3. …

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Falcons to appear on national television four times

New Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, center, is flanked by Broncos owner Pat Bowlin, left, and vice president John Elway during a news conference at the NFL Denver Broncos headquarters in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Associated Press)

New Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, center, is flanked by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, left, and vice president John Elway during a news conference at the NFL Denver Broncos headquarters in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Associated Press)

SAVE THE DATE: Legendary quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face the Falcons on Monday Night Football at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17  in the team’s home opener at the Georgia Dome.

The NFL released the full league exhibition and regular schedule on Tuesday. The Falcons were selected to play four national televised games. The Falcons will also play Dallas, New Orleans and Detroit in nationally televised games.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys face the Falcons  at 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised by NBC.

The Falcons host the New Orleans Saints, the defending NFC South champions, at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29th on the NFL Network.

In what was a hotly contested …

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Falcons announce offseason program, minicamps

Falcons made more news with new coordinators (Mike Nolan, Dirk Koetter) than roster. (Curtis Compton)

Falcons made more news with new coordinators (Mike Nolan, Dirk Koetter) than roster. (Curtis Compton)

The Falcons announced their 2012 offseason schedule, which  includes dates for the team’s offseason conditioning program, rookie mini-camp, organized team activities and minicamp on Tuesday.

 Monday, April 23

- Offseason Program Begins

Rookie Mini-Camp – May 11-13

 Friday, May 11

- Practice 3:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

Saturday, May 12

- Practice 3:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

Sunday, May 13

- Practice 10:45 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Organized Team Activities (OTA) – May 29 – June 15

OTAs begin on Tuesday, May 29 and conclude on Friday, June 15.

Minicamp – June 19-21

The Falcons will hold their 2012 minicamp from Tuesday, June 19 through Thursday, June 21.

Tuesday, June 19

- Practice 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. (walk-through)

- Practice 3:30 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

Wednesday, June 20

- Practice 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. (walk-through)

- Practice 3:30 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

Thursday, June 21

- …

Continue reading Falcons announce offseason program, minicamps »

Draft spotlight: Cal OT Mitchell Schwartz

MITCHELL SCHWARTZ

POS: LT/RT

Cal's Mitchell Schwartz (6-5 1/2, 320 pounds) could be headed to the ATL.

Cal's Mitchell Schwartz (6-5 1/2, 320 pounds) could be headed to the ATL.

School: California

HT: 6-5 1/2

WT: 320

Arm length: 33 1/2 inches

40-yard dash: 5.33

Vertical: 26 1/2

Hometown: Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Key stats: He was named first-team All-Pac-12 for football and academics last season. He started 51 consecutive games for the Golden Bears over his career, 35 at left tackle and 16 at right tackle. He earned Cal’s most valuable offensive lineman award for the third straight seasons.

Since I’ve forecasted that the Falcons will select Mitchell Schwartz in the our first Mock Draft, we better give you some information on the kid.

My man Mel Kiper Jr. has him as the 10th rated tackle in the draft.

Pro Football Weekly has him as the fifth rated tackle in the draft.

Former NFL general manager Charley Casserly has Schwartz going to the New York Giants eight picks after the Falcons select Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders

NFL …

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NFL schedule gets released at 7 p.m. Tuesday

New Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, center, is flanked by Broncos owner Pat Bowlin, left, and vice president John Elway during a news conference at the NFL Denver Broncos headquarters in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Associated Press)

New Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, center, is flanked by Broncos owner Pat Bowlin, left, and vice president John Elway during a news conference at the NFL Denver Broncos headquarters in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Associated Press)

The NFL announced that it will release the 2012 schedule at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NFL.com and the NFL Network.

I don’t know how they are going to do this, but they will have a THREE-HOUR show discussing the schedule. I don’t know who’s going to watch three hours of television about a schedule, but there is reason why the NFL is more popular than baseball.

Maybe Denver quarterback Peyton Manning will make his debut with his new squad against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome?

Perhaps Tony Roma and the Cowboys will face the Falcons in a Monday night game at the Georgia Dome?

The Falcons get a rematch with the New York Giants at Georgia Dome, too. (I’m thinking they’ll score more than two points this time around.)

Here …

Continue reading NFL schedule gets released at 7 p.m. Tuesday »

Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons to select Cal’s Schwartz

The Indianapolis Colts are expected to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. (Associated Press)

The Indianapolis Colts are expected to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. (Associated Press)

 With the draft quickly approaching, I thought that I’d better unveil my 2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.

A couple of things to keep in mind, the draft is deep at wide receiver, the running backs will slide and you’ll have bunch of hybrid defensive end/linebackers. Alabama, the reigning national champs, will likely have five players selected in the first round.

Georgia offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill have been invited to New York and won’t be in the green room long.

We have the Cleveland Browns selecting tight end Coby Fleener with the 22nd pick they received from the Falcons in the Julio Jones trade.

Also, we are projecting the Falcons to select California offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz with the 55 pick overall in the second round.

Apparently, this is the year to find a wide receiver. There are plenty of receivers after Oklahoma …

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NFL DRAFT CENTRAL: stories and rankings

Cordy Glenn (71) is one of top tackle prospects in the NFL draft.  (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Cordy Glenn (71) is one of top tackle prospects in the NFL draft. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

The NFL draft, set for April 26-28, is less than two weeks away. 

We’ve been periodically running position-by-position stories and rankings.

I’ve collected all of those items here.

This week, we’ll finish up with the offensive linemen, running backs, special teamers, defensive line, linebackers and quarterbacks.  I’ll drop the links in here.

POSITION BY POSITION STORIES:

Special teams: Drew Butler set to follow in his Dad’s footsteps

Running backs: Trent Richardson adds value to the position

Offensive linemen: Glenn not letting high draft status change him

Wide receivers:  Stephen Hill prepared for pros

Tight end: Talent not deep at the tight end position

Cornerbacks: Montana’s Trumaine Johnson is an intriguing prospect

Cornerbacks: Boykin’s injury should not hurt his draft status

Defensive ends: West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin is trying to reach the top

 POSITION BY …

Continue reading NFL DRAFT CENTRAL: stories and rankings »

VIDEO: Top 5 wide receiver prospects

Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd are among the top WRs in this year’s NFL Draft. CineSport’s Noah Coslov & Sporting News’ Russ Lande discuss which top receivers can be franchise wideouts.

Player                               Ht       Wt               School           Proj. Rd

1. Justin Blackmon        6-1          207           Oklahoma State    1st

Comment: He became the only two-time winner of the Fred Biletnikoff award winner last season. The award goes to the top receiver in the nation.

2. Michael Floyd           6-3         220            Notre Dame          1st

Comment: Needs to get stronger. Bench pressed 225 pounds just 16 times at the combine.

3. Stephen Hill               6-4          215           Georgia Tech         1st

Comment: He has blazing speed and outstanding leaping ability. Has good …

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VIDEO: Top 5 tight end prospects

Colby Fleener is #1 among NFL Draft prospects at TE. CineSport’s Noah Coslov & Sporting News’ Russ Lande discuss top TEs & how players like Rob Gronkowski changed the way the position is viewed.

Player                     Ht       Wt               School            Proj. Rd

1. Coby Fleener 6-6      247             Stanford             1st

Comment: The league is trending toward athletic and fast tight ends. He ran the 40-yard dash in a 4.5 seconds at his Pro Day.

2. Dwayne Allen 6-3        255            Clemson            2nd

Comment: His 48 receptions for 577 yards and eight touchdowns last season were school single-season records for a tight end.

3. Orson Charles 6-2        251            Georgia             2nd

Comment: His DUI arrest on March 9 and slow 40-yard dash time (4.75 seconds) hurt his status, according analysts.

4. …

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NFL draft: Boykin’s injury should not hurt his draft status

Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia - Bulldogs' senior cornerback/return specialist won the 2011 Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation's most versatile player. The Fayetteville native (2011 stats: 55 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a safety) is the only player in the SEC with three 100-yard plays of any kind. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia – Bulldogs' senior cornerback/return specialist won the 2011 Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation's most versatile player. The Fayetteville native (2011 stats: 55 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a safety) is the only player in the SEC with three 100-yard plays of any kind. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

It is fortunate that NFL scouts have plenty of film on former Georgia standout Brandon Boykin.

Because they do, the leg injury he suffered in the Senior Bowl should not hurt his draft status. He’s projected to go in the second or third round of the NFL draft, which will be held April 26-28 in New York City.

It is possible that he could land with the Falcons, who have the 55th overall pick. They traded their first-round pick as part of last year’s Julio Jones deal.

“Well, Boykin’s fast,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “Every time I watch Boykin, [that’s] all I can think of. He’s just so fast. Everything he …

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