Although many fans and media types alike vehemently disagreed and criticized some picks that Thomas Dimitroff chose on draft weekend, it was almost a consensus lock of being an excellent draft choice of Oklahoma Cornerback Dominique Franks in the 5th Round. Almost everyone knew that the Falcons would go cornerback at some point during the draft to continue and build a deep, tough, and athletic secondary, but didn’t know exactly when that TD would pull the trigger. The signing of veteran CB Dunta Robinson in free agency made it a much lower priority than first round, as originally thought. It was also widely believed that the Falcons would target a cornerback who could assist them in the return game as well since Eric Weems was decent, although not great, and Harry Douglas return days are probably over. After being projected to go in the second or third round, looks like Dimitroff may have hit a homerun grabbing Franks in the fifth round.
Franks entered the NFL Draft as a junior after having a very successful career at Oklahoma. After redshirting and seeing limited time in his first full year, Franks racked up 96 tackles, 15 pass breakups, and 6 interceptions in two years. The Oklahoma cornerback was named 2nd Team All-Big 12 his sophomore year and 1st Team All-Big 12 his junior year. Declaring for the draft, Franks was characterized as a very athletic cornerback with good size (5’11, 195) and superb skills when he gets his hands on the ball. He also had traits of being a hard-worker, a very good tackler, confident, and “a ballhawk who has skills to be a starter on the next level” according to DraftCountdown. Although he has immense upside, Franks does have some areas of his game that need work. Franks has been characterized as being too aggressive, which can be a weakness as a cornerback. He also has been labeled as not physical or tough enough, as well as not having the best speed to recover when he gets beat.
The sky seems the limit for Franks as an Atlanta Falcon. His first duties will be to work hard and compete at a high enough level to insure that he makes the active roster. That’s something that’s certainly not guaranteed to cornerbacks drafted by Thomas Dimitroff, just ask former 5th round draftee William Middleton and former 6th round draftee Wilrey Fontenot, both cornerbacks who are neither on the team or the practice squad. The battle will be fierce with the cornerback position suddenly being one of the deeper positions on the team. Immediate starter Dunta Robinson was signed via free agency, Chris Owens and Brent Grimes proved they both can be starters when they did it down the stretch last year, Brian Williams is looking good in rehab and looks to be ready to go, and Chevis Jackson supposedly had a very good mini-camp knowing what’s at stake. Even though the Falcons carried 6 cornerbacks on their active roster last year, there’s no guarantee they will again with all the talent across the board.
Assuming Franks makes the roster, which is highly likely (we carried Houston and Hill last year for goodness sake), the question is what role can he play? Taking into account no injuries occur (fingers crossed), it’s a pretty safe bet that Robinson, Owens, and Grimes are the top cornerbacks on the roster and likely will take the top two spots and the third taking the nickel slot. The question then remains what roles will Brian Williams and/or Chevis Jackson play. After starting the year and playing very well, Williams was lost for the year against the Bears with a pretty severe knee injury. Many thought Williams may not be re-signed, but Dimitroff and Co. were pleased with his rehab and loved his leadership and play. Jackson had a pretty great rookie year easing into the nickel back role, only to have his role reduced and his play go down in his second year. Even though Jackson was a Dimitroff draft pick, he looks to possibly be on the bubble with all the new talent in the secondary. Add to that the fact that he couldn’t win starting or major spot in last year’s overall weak cornerback corps and you can see why he’s driven and ready to have a big camp. Let the games begin.
-Your opinion: what role will Dominique Franks play this year?
-Where do you think Franks will rank on the CB depth chart?
-Could Franks win the nickel cornerback job?
-Can the Oklahoma CB replace Weems on special teams?