The Falcons went pretty much according to plan with their first pick, grabbing OLB Sean Weatherspoon with their #19 overall pick. Media and fans alike were generally happy and thought it was a good move to fit a glaring need on defense with a potential playmaker. Of course drafts never go as planned, but many felt that if the Falcons passed on a DT in the first round that they would likely wait until a good bit later (4th or 5th round perhaps) to address a fairly unstable defensive tackle position. They were wrong. After not having a second round pick, fans watched excruciatingly as pick after pick came off the board. They wanted a big splash to make them feel better after not having a second rounder. And then the name scrolled across the board: Defensive Tackle from Kentucky Corey Peters. What?
Many had learned a little about Peters here in The Bird Cage after he was featured among many players in the Mock Drafts put forth. He was thought to be a good player, but surely could be gotten in the later rounds (5th, 6th, or maybe even the 7th). Fans felt a mix of shock, disgust, and confusion when Peters became the newest Atlanta Falcon. Defensive tackle was surely going to be addressed due to Peria Jerry’s fragile injury concerns and Jonathan Babineaux’s future suspension, which could be anywhere from 2 to 8 games. Obviously an entirely different situation, but Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t charged and received 4-6 games. Rookie and former 7th round pick Vance Walker and former Undrafted Free Agent Thomas Johnson played really well in backup roles, but would you really want to depend on them out of the gate? And according to Mike Smith, Jamaal Anderson has not permanently moved to defensive tackle. Trey Lewis did have an injury free season, but was pretty ineffective overall and didn’t see much action.
The arrows then got pointed at the newest Falcon Corey Peters, not because of his production, but because all the draft “experts” hadn’t predicted that Peters would go before the 6th round in most scenarios. Peters fits Coach Smith and DC Van Gorder’s defensive scheme perfectly, with his size (6’3, 300), quickness, and ability to disrupt the line of scrimmage. Many immediately panned the pick as a huge reach, but after taking a second look at his college production, skill level, and the fact that many teams were also targeting him around then, it may be beneficial to take another glance.
Tyson Alualu (10th overall) – 11.5 Tackles for Loss, 7.5 Sacks
Dan Williams (26th overall) – 9 TFL, 2.5 Sacks
Jared Odrick (28th overall) – 11 TFL, 7 Sacks
Brian Price – 23.5 TFL, 7 Sacks
Torrell Troup – 5 Tackles for Loss, 2 Sacks
Lamarr Houston – 22 Tackles, 8 Sacks
Linval Joseph – 13 TFL, 3 Sacks
Mike Neal – 11.5 TFL, 5.5 Sacks
Terrence Cody – 6 TFL, 0 Sacks
D’Anthony Smith – 2.5 TFL, 3.5 Sacks
Earl Mitchell – 12.5 TFL, 6.5 Sacks
Corey Peters – 12 TFL, 4 Sacks
Geno Atkins – 10.5 Tackles for Loss, 3 Sacks
Cam Thomas – 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 0 Sacks
Arthur Jones – 7 TFL, 1.5 Sacks
Obviously, stats don’t ever tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account schemes, players, teammates, competition, coaches, etc., but it is a nice barometer to at least try and gauge players at a similar position. Going by pure stats alone, it’s hard to argue that Corey Peters was THAT much of a reach in the third round, particularly considering the run on defensive tackles at that point in time. Notice that only three defensive tackles were taken in the next 3 rounds (4th-5th-6th) after Peters was selected. Peters matched or had better senior year production (tackles for loss and sacks) than Dan Williams, Torrell Troup, Linval Joseph, Mike Neal, Terrance Cody, and D’Anthony Smith; all drafted before him. After going back to make sure that Peters was in fact rated low, it was surprising to see that he actually was slotted for the 3rd-4th round by NFLDraftScout and a “mid-rounder” by DraftCountdown, meaning the same area.
Peters is a tough and quick defensive tackle that was highly productive throughout his career in the SEC, something that is highly regarded by Dimitroff and Co. Made 2nd Team All-SEC, behind only Terrance Cody and Dan Williams both drafted ahead of him. He definitely has areas that need improvement, such as developing his pass-rush technique and making sure his motor is on high all the time, but those are surely areas that can be coached up. He was an extremely hard worker with superb grades and character, another trait high on TD’s list. While Peters certainly wasn’t the biggest name left, it’s hard to argue that it was a big reach since their was a run on DTs, he was mostly slotted at that point anyway, other teams were getting ready to draft him, he feels a big need, and he could turn into an excellent player, and possibly even become a starter in the near future. Assuming he proves himself on the field, the selection of Peters officially makes defensive tackle one of the deepest positions on the team.
17 pts – Eddie Q.
16 pts - FalconsFan284
15 pts – Seminole
14 pts - D3
13 pts - just me
12 pts – Nookah, Ed, Knew Money, Falcon Devil, Chelf,
11 pts - Bangkapi, luladawg, Bill, Unca Bob
9 pts - Aaron F., Coop, Rikus
8 pts – tyler
7 pts – JohnWaynesWorld, hstapleton, Mark N., Sportaree
4 pts – Nookah
3 pts – luladawg, Hamad Meander, Bangkapi
2 pts – Knew Money, Eddie Q., JJ, Coop, Unca Bob, FalconsFan284, Marcus, JohnWaynesWorld, D3
1 pt – Mark N., Aaron F., Ed, tbhawksfan, darrell starks, just me, Chelf, Sportaree
Understandably Missed – Ipuga17, hstapleton, Bill, tyler, Rikus
**Please let me know via posting or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if I may have missed your mock draft submission or may have gotten the points wrong.
Want to say a special thank you to everyone who participated in the 2nd Annual Bird Cage Mock Draft Competition. It was a ton of fun and hope you all enjoyed it. Will have many friendly and fun competitions throughout the season.