As the 2010 NFL Draft closes in on being under a month away, many draft experts and fans alike have begun to coalesce on a small number of possibilities that could take place with their respective teams first round pick. The majority of big events are over including roster moves, cuts, free agency, and the scouting combine. Granted, free agency continues well into August and all the way through the year, but the big moves that would severely affect draft boards have already taken place. There are pro days for sure, but those usually will only confirm or deny the beliefs already held by the scouts. Mostly, its just a waiting game at this point (a very excruciating one for fans).
After ranging between anywhere from 5 to 8 different prospects, most mock draft experts and their according mocks have been whittled down to 3 to 4 possibilities. Mocks before free agency and the scouting combine any number of the following players: CB Kyle Wilson, CB Donovan Warren, CB Dominique Franks, DE Brandon Graham, DE Everson Griffen, DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, OLB Sean Weatherspoon, OLB Sergio Kindle, OLB Navorro Bowman, and many others. Even though the pool has since dwindled down to Graham, Weatherspoon, and Kindle, a few even had the Birds drafting RB CJ Spiller and WR Golden Tate. Which leads into today’s topic: Could the Falcons pull a big surprise with their #19 pick? Meaning would they take a prospect that plays a position of relative strength on their roster? The reality is that this won’t happen in all likelihood, but the question is more aimed to stir the debate on whether it could or should happen. A look at some potential surprise picks @ #19 (or later if they trade back):
5’11 – 196 – 4.27 Forty Time – 18 Bench Reps – 1,212 Rush Yds – 12 TDs – 503 Rec Yds – 4 Rec TDs – 5 KR TDs
5’10 – 199 – 4.42 Forty Time – 17 Bench Reps – 1,496 Yds – 15 TDs
Tate is an outstanding athlete who had consecutive years of over 1,000 yards receiving and 10+ touchdowns at Notre Dame. Decided to forgo his senior season due to likelihood of being a first round pick. Tate doesn’t fit the mold of big receiver that the NFL has been trending towards, but Tate plays well above his 5’10 size with superb leaping ability, body control, and good ball skills. Golden Tate also brings much versatility on special teams as well. As with most of these prospects, its highly doubtful that the Birds go wide receiver with their first overall pick, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered. Roddy White’s one of the best in the game and……….well, let’s stop there. Harry Douglas was out for the year and the WR corps took an assumed hit, but Jenkins had an average to poor year on the other side. Marty Booker and Eric Weems offered very little to the rest of the roster. There’s little doubt the Falcons will upgrade their receiving corps, but would they pull the trigger at #19 or later if they were to trade back?
6’3 – 224 – 4.59 Forty Time – Injured Foot Prior to Combine – 1,154 yards – 8 TDs
Thomas is a local favorite that would immediately upgrade the Falcons receiving corps. It’s a testament to Thomas that he was able to accomplish what he did in a run-option offense. Even though there would be some adjustment to the pro-style offense, Thomas possesses the ideal combination of size and speed most all NFL teams are looking to add. Broke his foot right before the combine and it may have caused his stock to drop some, but most draft experts still believe he will be taken in the first round. Thomas is rated as the 3rd best WR by NFLDraftScout.com and the number 5 wideout by DraftCountdown.com. The Falcons could obviously trade back and pick up Thomas later in the first round or possibly even into the second.
6’1 – 219 – 4.57 – 20 Bench Reps – 490 Yards – 2 TDs
Benn’s draft status varies widely according to what draft site you visit. Benn is the 3rd best wideout according to DraftCountdown, but is slotted as the 7th best receiver according to NFLDraftScout and is slotted to go in the second round and possibly even the third. Even though he was hampered by an ankle injury in 2009, Benn had extremely poor production with less than 500 yards and only 2 TDs. Benn probably got little help from other teammates at Illinois. The Falcons would only consider Benn if they dropped way back, probably in the second round.
6’5 – 261 – 4.72 Forty Time – 20 Bench Reps – 950 yards – 14 TDs (2008 Stats)
Gresham turned down what was sure to be a first round selection after his junior year and elected to come back for his senior year at Oklahoma. The tight end tore ligaments in his knee in preseason and didn’t play a snap, but his upside is tremendous and could have a great pro career if he’s able to come back from his injury. Gresham had over 1,500 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns in only two years. In an analysis of unlikely prospects, this would be the biggest reach, but the Falcons have to seriously consider drafting Gonzalez’s replacement because some signs point to this being his last year. Some draft experts have Gresham slotted in the first 20 picks, while others have him going in the second round. If at all a possibility, this one would be another trade back.
This is just a topic to stir the debate and not a confirmation that the Falcons will or should consider taking any of these prospects over the ones that are more likely or probable. In a league that’s increasingly becoming offensive-minded, taking a look at rare possibilities can at least be considered.