As Falcon fans know all too well, taking a defensive end in the first round can be a very risky proposition. The learning curve for defensive ends appears to be one of the deepest in the NFL for players making the jump from College to Pros, at least in their rookie years. In fact, since 2002, 71% of 1st round defensive ends had less than 5 sacks and 58% of 1st round defensive ends had 2 sacks or less. The Jacksonville Jaguars just paid pretty big money to DE Aaron Kampman a few days ago after drafting Derrick Harvey in the first round and Quentin Groves in the second round. If the Falcons guess right, they could snag the next Julius Peppers or Dwight Freeney, but they could just as easily take the next Michael Haynes, Jerome McDougal, or…….well you know. A look at some of the big names being mentioned for the Falcons at pick number 19 and their Scouting Combine performances:
40 Time: 4.69 – Bench Reps: 19 – 16.5 Tackles for Loss – 6.5 Sacks
Pierre-Paul has been shooting up the draft boards since his senior season and is the prototypical defensive end that general managers are looking for with size and speed. He attended a junior college his first two years and really only had one year worth of work. Seems to be a major project and could struggle mightily adjusting to the pro level. 19 reps for bench is beyond low for a potential defensive end. Probably will be gone by #19 anyway.
40 Time: 4.72 – Bench Reps: DNP – 18.5 Tackles for Loss – 12.5 Sacks
40 Time: 4.72 – Bench Reps: 31 – 26 Tackles for Loss – 10.5 Sacks
By far the most popular pick in the vast majority of mock drafts scripted in the last month. Graham has been the model of productivity and consistency at the University of Michigan, two traits Thomas Dimitroff craves. TD is keen on taking players that are leaders and have shown a high level of consistency in their entire college career instead of just a one year wonder. Many believe this is a perfect match. Graham was named MVP of the Senior Bowl after posting a multiple sack performance against some of the best college tackles. Many believe he would be better suited as an OLB in the 3-4 defense (one of draft experts favorite categories). The Falcons will be considering him solely as a defensive end. A little on the short side, but totaling almost 30 sacks in just 2.5 years as a starter at Michigan playing in the Big Ten can’t be questioned. Graham matches up with Dwight Freeney’s measurables almost exactly.
40 Time: 4.66 – Bench Reps: 32 – 9.5 Tackles for Loss – 8 Sacks
Griffen is becoming the new favorite dark horse pick for the Falcons by some draft experts. The defensive end from Southern California had a fantastic combine with his super fast 40 time and bench reps to go along with his prototypical defensive end size. Has all the measurables and likely pushed himself into the first round with a very good combine. Griffen had good sack numbers as a junior, but nothing off the charts, particularly his tackles for loss (9.5) compared to Brandon Graham’s (26). Stats obviously aren’t everything, but decent numbers from the Pac 10 may not translate the way other conferences do. Another junior defensive end that may be a risk.
40 Time: 4.71 – Bench Reps: 21 – 10.5 Tackles for Loss – 9 Sacks
Dunlap has the size for a defensive end that general managers crave: big, tall, and fast. Dunlap hails from one of the most defensively talented teams in all of college football and was a core member of that team. Had good sack numbers, posting almost double digit sacks his sophomore and junior years in the SEC, which is no small feat. Dunlap surely has all the measurables to be great at the next level, but questions began to run rampant on character and work ethic after he had a very public DUI the week of the SEC Championship. A junior defensive end that will likely need time to grow and needs to be in the right environment to succeed. Of all the potential first round defensive ends, Dunlap appears to be the biggest risk. 21 bench reps is extremely low for a supposedly big and powerful defensive end.
Most Falcons fans had a good idea which cornerback would be highest on the shipping block when #1 CB Dunta Robinson was inked. Chris Houston has been the ire or many fans since his rookie year with his inability to make plays on the ball. He certainly possesses all the skills needed to be a good cornerback in the NFL, but his trouble making plays on the ball is ultimately what punched his trade card. It was evident early on that Houston may have trouble in the season when both San Diego QBs picked on him all night in the main preseason game against the Chargers, particularly on 3rd and long.
Perhaps the expectations on Houston were too high since he was counted on to be the #1 cornerback pretty much from the beginning. He had his ups and downs, but he had a big chance to prove he was the guy this year and came up short. Some thought he may could compete for the 2nd CB spot or even the nickel, but Owens, Grimes and Williams will be fighting for that spot. Thomas Dimitroff gained yet another draft pick for April, which raises the likely total to 9. Imagine the possibilities. Best wishes to Chris Houston and thanks for his time as a good teammate and person in the community.
4th Round (Likely Compensatory Pick)
5th Round (Likely Compensatory Pick)
6th Round (Lions)
7th Round (Likely Compensatory Pick)