Falcons Free Agent WR Targets and Mock Mania 1.0

Any Chance the Falcons Look at a Free Agent Receiver?

The Atlanta Falcons wide receiving corps is in somewhat of a transitional phase as it looks to the 2010 Off-Season. Once a great source of strength, the wide receivers have been depleted by injuries, age, and failure to find young players that could take advantage of opportunities. Roddy White is the obvious playmaker of the position, making two consecutive Pro Bowls and going over 1,000 yards receiving and almost 25 touchdowns in 3 years. White continues to beat coverages and double-teams to make plays on the field. Even without a legitimate threat on the other side or the slot (at least last year), White maintains the ability to stretch the field, make big catches, and get in the endzone.

Although Michael Jenkins only dropped 5 passes last year, he still only came away with a 57.5 catching percentage while being a big target a 6’4. The drops weren’t that prevalent by comparison, but they came at some of the most inopportune times (the touchdown drop against the Giants will burn for awhile). Perhaps one of the biggest issues is his inability to get in the endzone or chew up the field with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez occupying double teams and brackets all across the turf. Jenkins is a great blocker, team player, and a good receiver, but he needs competition. The injury to Harry Douglas was much more than many had hoped or thought (this author included). Even with the addition of All-World Tight End Tony Gonzalez, teams were able to double White and bracket Gonzalez and essentially stop the Falcons. HD will be counted on to bolster the passing attack, but he returns from a major knee injury.

The best teams have excellent depth at their receiver position and Douglas’ injury exposed how vulnerable the receiving unit was as a whole. If Brian Finneran had been able to stay healthy longer, the injury to HD may have been minimized. Finneran has had knee injuries the last 3 out of 4 years and is 34 years old. Marty Booker was very disappointing in trying to fill in for Douglas. Eric Weems started strong, particularly on special teams, but failed to gain much traction in the aerial attack. It’s almost a certainty that Thomas Dimitroff will draft a wide receiver in April, but could the Falcons make a play for a free agent wide receiver to create competition? A look at the candidates:

Antonio Bryant – 6’1, 205, 29 years old

Likely just became the biggest name on the free agent market when the Tampa Bay Bucs chose not to place the franchise tag on him. Bryant has been plagued by inconsistency, failing to post two excellent seasons in a row. Had a very good year in Cleveland in 2005, going over 1,000 yards and 4 TDs. Bryant was picked up by the 49ers the following year, but was held to barely over 700 yards. After going to Tampa Bay in 2008, Bryant had the best year of his career in hauling in over 1,200 yards and 7 touchdowns. Went back to a sub-par performance last year, being held to 600 yards and 4 TDs. Has been the victim of terribly inconsistent quarterback play (Trent Dilfer in 2005, Alex Smith in 2006, Jeff Garcia in 2008, and Byron Leftwich/Josh Freeman in 2009). Maybe not a true number one, but that’s exactly what the Falcons need. Dimitroff surely won’t sign such a big name WR and will continue to build through the draft. Roddy White and Antonio Bryant sure would look nice, huh?

Kevin Walter – 6’3, 218, 29 years old

Benefits largely from having one of the best receivers in the game, Andre Johnson, drawing serious double teams and opening the field wide open. Is a big, tough receiver who is not afraid to catch the ball over the middle and has amazing hands. Was slow to come off an injury and only scored two touchdowns and 600 yards after coming off an 8 TD, almost 900 yards season in 2008. The emergence of Jacoby Jones in Houston may make Walter expendable. Similar to Jenkins in build, but may not be as fast. Could add great competition to the receiving corps, but likely still too high for a free agent signing.

Chris Chambers – 5’11, 210, 31 years old

Chambers has bounced around the last 4 years to 3 different teams (Dolphins, Chargers, Chiefs) and has had mixed success in each place. The veteran wideout has been unable to match his career best in Miami, when he went over 1,100 yards receiving and 12 TDs, but he’s found streaks of success. After being traded to the Chiefs, Chambers had over 600 yards receiving and 4 TDs in only 9 games started. At 31 years old, don’t the Falcons need to get younger?

Josh Reed – 5’10, 210, 30 years old

Reed has never been more than 500 yards receiving, 2 touchdown receiver and is certainly not a number one or two receiver. The Buffalo Bills felt it necessary to sign Terrell Owens last year in free agency to bolster their air attack; and they already had Lee Evans on one side. If the Falcons brought Reed in, it would be an insurance to Douglas’ injury and have Reed compete for slot or number 4 receiver position. Much like the other candidates, why sign an older receiver when you can draft one?

Derrick Mason – 5’10, 195, 36 years old

Call it crazy, but Mason has gone over 1,000 yards receiving every year except one since 2001. Pretty impressive, and anyone who doubts Mason can still do it at the ripe age of 36 might be losing their bets. Considered retirement last year and would likely stay with Ravens if he does return or go to a serious contender for one more run.

Terrell Owens – 6’3, 224, 36 years old

Needed a good laugh.

Restricted Free Agents a Plenty

Although there’s not much in the way of unrestricted free agents, the restricted wide receiver market is stocked full. The Falcons won’t part ways with draft picks for a wideout, but there’s tons of talent for teams willing to do so.

Brandon Marshall – Broncos

Vincent Jackson – Chargers

Miles Austin – Cowboys

Braylon Edwards – Jets

Steve Breaston – Cardinals

Malcom Floyd – Chargers

Jason Avant – Eagles

Mark Clayton – Ravens

As with pretty much every other position, it just doesn’t seem likely that Dimitroff would be willing to spend money on any wide receivers to come in and compete, when he can continue to build through the draft and hope for a healthy return of Harry Douglas.

Bird Cage Mock Mania 1.0

Starting this Friday and lasting until the NFL Draft in April, The Bird Cage will scan the ‘net and offer as many mock drafts out there as possible. Enjoy, agree, disagree, and, above all, use them to help you get prepared for the 2nd Annual Bird Cage Mock Draft Competition in April

DraftCountdown.com

Sergio Kindle – OLB – Texas

“The Falcons also have a looming problem at outside linebacker, where Mike Peterson is nearly 34-years-old, so don’t rule out Missouri’s Sean Weatherspoon. One way or another it looks like the Falcons will go defense in round one.”

NFLDraftScout.com (CBS Sports)

Rob Rang – Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan

Chad Reuter – Everson Griffen – DE – USC

FootballsFuture.com

Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan

“Graham combined a very good senior season with a dominating Senior Bowl performance. With John Abraham on the wrong side of 30, it’s time to add some youth to the pass rush.”

WalterFootball.com

Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan

“I’m torn between Sean Weatherspoon and Brandon Graham here, but ultimately, I decided on the latter because of positional value, which Thomas Dimitroff is a big fan of. Dimitroff has had three first-round picks, which were spent on quarterback, left tackle and defensive tackle – three of the five highest positions of value.”

NFLDraftDog.com

Derrick Morgan – DE – Georgia Tech

“Got outplayed by Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborne in the Orange Bowl, but that doesn’t take away from his great season.”

NFLDraftBlitz.com

Everson Griffen – DE – USC

“Word out of Atlanta is that the Falcons are counting on Brian Williams to come back from injury and solidify the CB unit. They are also leaning toward DE, another huge need. Griffen is a very solid all-around end who should produce early.”

Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons Select Brandon Graham – D.Orlando Ledbetter

Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan

Under this scenario, based mostly on post-season college games, conference calls with draft analysts Mel Kiper (ESPN) and Mike Mayock (NFL Network) and some reporter chatter, the Falcons will have a tough decision. Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox and Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will all be available.

This is more of the Kiper scenario where a really good player is going to fall to the Falcons, and while they may need a cornerback, they are far enough along in the rebuilding program that they can take the “best player available” instead of “the need” player

NFLDraftSite.com

Everson Griffen – DE – USC

(They have the entire mock draft done as well – all seven rounds) 

FFToolbox.com

(Raul Colon) – Carlos Dunlap – DE – Florida

(Joshua Lobdell) – Patrick Robinson – CB – Florida State

(Ricky Dimon) – Sergio Kindle – OLB – Texas

(Ben Standig) – Everson Griffen – DE – USC

(Randall Weida) – Donovan Warren – CB – Michigan

(Forrest Long) – Sergio Kindle – OLB – Texas

NFL.com – Bucky Brooks

Navarro Bowman – Penn State – OLB

“Mike Smith needs a playmaker at the weak-side linebacker spot, and Bowman’s athleticism makes him a perfect fit in the Falcons’ scheme.”

Out of 16 mock drafts, 62.5% believe the Falcons will select a Defensive End

 

Enjoy the NFL Scouting Combine Weekend…………………

 The Bird Cage is now on Twitter (D3_Falcons). Come join for some fast-paced Falcon, Football, Draft, and Scouting Combine Talk.

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250 comments Add your comment

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:00 pm

The only one I see on your list that peaks intrest is Vincent Jackson – he’s awesome!

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:02 pm

Here we go JJ…

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:03 pm

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:01 pm
To our friend Nookah,

hope you have a better yr my brother, a small gift for you:

One Love!
One Heart!
Let’s get together and feel all right.
Hear the children cryin’
(One Love! );
Hear the children cryin’
(One Heart! ),
Sayin’: give thanks and praise
To the Lord and I will feel all right;
Sayin’: let’s get together
And feel all right.
Wo wo-wo wo-wo!

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:04 pm

spin baby, spin!!!

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:05 pm

I hate the tan skate covers, we all knoww they are white.

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:11 pm

And I hate the granny panties, where are the G-strings?

D3

February 25th, 2010
11:14 pm

G’Nite Sarah B. and JJ – Hate the Everson Griffen pick. I’m starting to warm to the idea of drafting Brandon Graham, even though I still think its the wrong position to draft. I could stand Graham because he’s been so productive in college. Griffen is JA#98 2.0, IMHO. Spoon, Kindle, Bulaga, or Graham. I would be happy with any of them, but my preference is Spoon or Kindle. Have a good night guys and gals!

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:15 pm

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:16 pm

Graham will be gone – trust me – just watch…

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:23 pm

Graham is a hybrid but still sitting on the spoon train behind SW and Unca’Bob!!!

SB, not me, my s.korean rock star is coming up!!! Wheres box?

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:25 pm

Here she is….

thunderbull56

February 25th, 2010
11:27 pm

You mockin’ me? Go ahead I’m mockin’ you! Mock,mock, mock, they call me the Mocka!

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:27 pm

Long live the Queen! WOW!!!

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:29 pm

kim yu-na!!!

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:30 pm

and I follow nascar, yeehaa!

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:30 pm

Kicked ass again!!!

ATLJBO

February 25th, 2010
11:30 pm

I think we should draft a WR in the mid-rounds

I like Everson Griffen…He has Freeney type POTENTIAL but stouter against the run…. Griffen will blow everybody away during the combine (4.6 or better 40…. over 30 reps of 225lbs)

I really think Coach Hamilton can coach this guy up to becoming an elite LDE…

Everson Griffen highlights
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNzSE9q0R3k

Everson Griffen working out for combine
http://www.nothinbutfreaks.com/videos/214101
http://www.nothinbutfreaks.com/videos/126101

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:32 pm

Oh crap!!! 156?

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:38 pm

ATLJBO, good post, just shootin the shiite late night. I have griffen 3rd on my wish list…spoon and graham ahead.

SarahB.- here comes the canadian girl who lost her mom 4 days ago.

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:42 pm

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:47 pm

Very good – skatin for Mom! Probably get Bronze.

JJ you goin to Derby tomorrow?

Nookah

February 25th, 2010
11:51 pm

Greetings Cagers!!!

JJ, nuff respect, I appreciate the dedication.

I have one for y’all. A WR named Carlton Mitchell 6′ 4″; 212. TD will sign this brother!!! Runs a 4.45 40. Not lightening speed but a physical presence and will look very good in red & black.

Sarah B, I too like Vincent Jackson but can we afford him? Now we’d have 2 #1’s. All the others would go against the process as they are in their 30’s.

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!

You’re gonna lively up yourself And don’t be no drag,
You lively up yourself cause reggae is another bag
You lively up yourself and don’t say no You’re gonna lively up yourself cause I said so

(Hear what you gonna do) You rock so you rock so like you never did before
You dip so you dip so, dip thru my door You come so you come so oh yeah
You skank so you skank so be alive today

You’re gonna lively up yourself and don’t say no You lively up yourself big daddy says so
You lively up yourself and don’t be no drag You lively up yourself cause reggae is another bag

What you got that I don’t know I’m a trying to wonder why you act so
(Hey, do you hear what the man seh?) Lively up your woman in the morning time you’all
Keep a lively up your woman when the evening come And take her take ya.

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:54 pm

Je ne sais pas, et tu?

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:55 pm

huh? stop with th French. How about Que?

Sarah B

February 25th, 2010
11:58 pm

I guess that was yes…et tu is and you right?

JJ

February 25th, 2010
11:59 pm

Hey Nookah, good seeing ya buddy, saw your post last week and you’ve been in my prayers. We’re all family in the cage, although I piss off most of them. Would love to see Stirg, BT and Unca’Bob more often as well!

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:04 am

Que? whats that, spanish?

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:06 am

Kim su-na or something!!!

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:07 am

So glad that canadian girl won a metal, ok D3, I’ll quit…lol

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:15 am

et tu = and you, yes SB.

Was not planning on it, r u ?

Sarah B

February 26th, 2010
12:20 am

Only if you are…

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:21 am

Sarah B

February 26th, 2010
12:22 am

No big deal…

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:23 am

Spin baby spin, sorry meant to say spoon baby spoon! Such an arse!!!

Sarah B

February 26th, 2010
12:23 am

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:25 am

IM me before we pissoff everyone biatch!…lol

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:27 am

…shush…video and details to come…lol, j/k sb, lol!!!

Box

February 26th, 2010
12:28 am

And use et vous, if you are non-familiar.

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:29 am

oh come on, that was funny!

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:30 am

Ah box, their you are! How’s my fav 4.o student/grandapa doing?

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:32 am

Snow in the great plains?

Box

February 26th, 2010
12:33 am

No, No, No, on the grandpa front.

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:34 am

Forgot to mention Dennis Scott (along with salley/price)in the last time I catrf for march madness. I’m a uga/gt fan until they meet and lean for my dogs then. But I root for both!

Box

February 26th, 2010
12:35 am

May get a little wet snow and rain, but no accummulation in central AR. How about ATL? I saw where Smitty addresses the press at noon tomorrow at the combine.

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:36 am

Box, who do you like in the 1st rd, one pk and why that pk?

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:38 am

You know atlanta, we ran out of bread and milk because of “possible” flurries.

Box

February 26th, 2010
12:38 am

Didn’t know you pulled for both. I am the same way. Lots ot Tech grads for friends. Ever hear of One Eyed Jacks, down near Tech campus?

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:41 am

Sarah B, where did you go? I dont stay up this often but you and box are the legends of late nite.

JJ

February 26th, 2010
12:44 am

No, but used to go to a club by the varsity in the early 80’s. They played early punk/funk music/bands, 885 or something. (showing my age)

Box

February 26th, 2010
12:46 am

JJ,
I like the push for OLB with the first pick, but would like to make it after a trade back to 24 or 25. This is in thanks to your great stats about 103 out of 109. I still think we can ride the Spoon train from there. I also like the Kindle pick as a possibility.