The 2010 NFL Draft is finally drawing to its awesome culmination and the draft boards are beginning to solidify as the big day inches closer. The Falcons have had several private workouts with many different prospects, some in an attempt to perform due diligence (Rolando McClain – ILB) and others for obviously legit reasons (2 workouts with Sean Weatherspoon). There are many different directions the Birds can go in and the attempts of nailing down the Falcons draft might becoming an obsession to many of us junkies. And with that Falcons Full Mock Madness 3.0.
Use this week and next to continue playing around with different scenarios, prospects, and combinations to come up with your best guess for the 2nd Annual Bird Cage Falcons Mock Draft Competition starting Monday, April 19th. More details to follow soon.
Sergio Kindle – OLB/DE – Texas
The assumption here is that both Sean Weatherspoon and Brandon Graham are gone and they can’t trade back. Many fans have already launched their arrows my way after the very first pick, but at least hear out the argument. The most common, and legitimate, complaint that will immediately be lodged is that Kindle is only a on OLB for the 3-4 scheme with his size, lack of quickness, and potential issues in coverage should automatically preclude the Falcons from looking Kindle’s way. While it may be true that Kindle may fit better in a 3-4, that doesn’t mean he can’t play as a 4-3 linebacker. Granted, he probably is more suited to be the strongside linebacker, which is more run-heavy and doesn’t require as much coverage skills. Stephen Nicholas probably would need to move to the weakside, where Mike Peterson is fading, but there are several facts that remain concerning the 3-4 only argument.
1) Kindle is rated higher than Sean Weatherspoon in most overall player classifications (DraftCountdown.com, NFLDraftScout.com, Scout Inc’s Top 32). 2) Even though there will be a learning process, Kindle actually is better in coverage than most give him credit for, as a defensive end. 3) Nicholas showed promise in his first full year as a starter, but nothing on a level that shouldn’t merit some consideration to change and was drafted in the 4th round (his size @ 6’3, 230 seems more suited to WLB anyway). 4) Kindle’s versatility as a defensive end and outside linebacker presents tons of options on defense. 5) Ask yourself what the Falcons biggest weakness was in 2009: rushing the passer; Kindle can provide an immediate upgrade in that arena (35 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks in 2 years). 6) Many said the same thing about Brian Orakpo going to the Redskins running a 4-3 and he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Sergio Kindle is a tough, physical, and extremely versatile football player that, despite some growing pains, may have more upside than Weatherspoon. Unlike taking a center or guard first, Kindle can and will have an immediate impact. Also will be able to mentor under one of the best to play the game in Mike Peterson.
Tennant seems to be a very popular pick here for many reasons, but the most obvious one is that it would reunite quarterback Matt Ryan with his former center at Boston College. Todd McClure was the strongest link on the offensive line last, at least according to ProFootballFocus.com, but he will be 33 years old this coming year and was rumored to ponder retirement last year. Several comments have McClure being very happy with the current offensive line, but the expected changes coming in 2011 may change his state of mind. Very athletic and agile for a center with prototypical size (6’5, 300). One of the most cerebral, smart, and aware lineman in the draft. Known for having a nasty streak in pass blocking and will have time to improve his strength in run-blocking playing behind Todd McClure for at least one more year. Brett Romberg would technically be slotted in front of him, but he could possibly play guard if need be and is 29 himself. Tennant also has the frame and athleticism to move to guard in a pinch.
The Falcons did add the best cornerback on the free agent market with the signing of Dunta Robinson, and Chris Owens and Brent Grimes showed enough moxie to play extremely well as starting cornerbacks in the final stretch of the season. Add in Brian Williams hopeful return and the Birds would seemingly be set at cornerback. The issue is not top line talent, but depth. The Falcons have only 5 cornerbacks on the entire roster including Chevis Jackson, with no players even on the practice squad. Kickoff and punt returning special teams were pretty subpar as well. Eric Weems showed some flashes, but no serious threat. Arenas won’t add the height and size (5’9, 197) to the cornerback corps many fans desire, but his performance as a starting cornerback in the SEC where they lost 2 games in two years should prove he can handle top competition. Besides his speed and quickness on defense, Arenas immediately upgrades a special teams in need of some serious potency. Javier Arenas holds an SEC record with 7 punt returns for touchdowns. Had one interception against Florida in the SEC Title Game and 2 interceptions in the National Title Game. Hasn’t had the exact same production in the kickoff return game, but the talent is there. Arenas can come into a perfect spot with the Falcons in not having to start and can work in slowly as a #4 or #5 cornerback. Gives the ultimate threat of taking it to the house every time he touches the ball.
Blair White – Wide Receiver – Michigan State
The wide receiving depth in this year’s draft is particularly deep, especially with big and fast wideouts. Michael Jenkins is an integral part of the receiving corps, but needs some challenge to the number 2 spot. This challenge may come from a healing Harry Douglas, but may also come from the new draft pick. Blair White has excellent height (6’2), size (209), and speed (4.49) that can add a sure-handed threat to the Falcons receiving corps. White has a high motor, excellent work ethic, and runs does a great job of finding the opening on the football field. White had very good production in college, particularly in his senior season where he had almost 1,000 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. White has superb hands and is a high-effort blocker which is something that offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey demands. White looks to be a great sleeper in the draft, and may only be available due to the good depth of receivers in the draft.
Jeff Owens – Defensive Tackle – Georgia
Owens likely won’t be around when the Falcons draft at this point, but a sub-par senior season may allow him to drop. This would be amazing news for the Falcons. Owens has a huge upside and looks to probably be a better pro player than he was in college, thanks to one certain defensive coordinator he played under. Owens didn’t have a fantastic senior season (4 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks) in a very forgettable defensive season for the University of Georgia. Jeff Owens probably was limited to returning from a season ending ACL injury. The UGA D-Tackle may have helped his stock significantly with a 4.97 forty time and ripping off 44 bench reps of 225 lbs. Although the defensive tackle position is one of the deeper ones on the roster, Peria Jerry’s injury history and Jonathan Babineaux’s legal issues would make this a fantastic choice. Throw in the fact that Owens size is the perfect fit for Smith and Van Gorder’s system and you have the makings for magnificent selection. Also, how awesome would it be to have a Georgia Tech guy(Vance Walker) and Georgia guy (Jeff Owens) manning the interior line?
Marshall Newhouse – Offensive Guard/Tackle – TCU
The vulnerability of the offensive line after the 2010 season would make the selection of at least two offensive lineman a really good idea. Newhouse offers great versatility after playing most of his entire career at left tackle, but projects inside to guard where his strength and size can be used more effectively in the pros. Lined up at every offensive line position and did extremely well during the week of the East-West Shriners Game. Very quick, strong, and agile for a big offensive lineman. Durable after starting every game but one over three years as a starter. Helped lead TCU to a top 5 finish in scoring offense, total offense, and rushing offense. Newhouse could pair with Tennant, Sam Baker, and Garrett Reynolds to provide for some serious depth and talent for years to come. Could learn for a year and possibly be ready to take over a starting role at some point. Has great size at 6’4, 326 and moves tremendously well for his size.
Andre Anderson – Running Back – Tulane
Some may call this a crazy pick since the Falcons have Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, and Jerious Norwood all locked up for next year. Several arguments can be made to take a flier on a running back at this point in the draft. All of the backs are up in age: Turner is 28, Norwood will be 27, and Snelling will be 26 when the season begins. Although each back is under 30 years old, its almost a certainty that either Snelling or Norwood will not be back after 2010. The depth behind those three is razor thin. The only other RB on the roster is Antoine Smith, who many believe can make some noise, but no other backs besides that. Signing Verron Haynes and Aaron Stecker should give fans pause on whether depth is adequate. Anderson is a local guy from Stone Mountain and was extremely productive (over 2,000 yds rushing and 17 TDs in 2 years) and versatile (over 450 yds receiving and 2 TDs) at Tulane. Anderson has good size (6’0, 212) and speed (4.5 forty) for a running back. His tough running style and excellent vision could make him a great, late steal.
Well, there you have it Cagers; Falcons Full Mock Madness 3.0 is in the books. Remember, this is not necessarily representative of what will happen on draft weekend, but what should or could. Punch holes in my mock at will and use the following draft sites to get your boards together.
-Put forth your Falcons Full Mock Madness 3.0
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