It’s that time again fellow Bird Cagers, the NFL draft is rapidly approaching and it’s one of the best events of the entire year. Even the greedy owners and selfish players can’t ruin this, at least let’s hope.
Beginning this week and lasting until the week of the draft, The Bird Cage will offer a new look at what the Falcons might do as the draft nears, culminating with the 3rd Annual Bird Cage Mock Draft Competition. The competition will be a friendly and enjoyable chance for Bird Cage readers and posters to predict what the Birds will do. The next several weeks will not necessarily be the exact prediction of what the Falcons will do, but rather to examine the possibilities they could entertain with various prospects in the different rounds. In other words, research and play around with your practice mocks for the next several weeks, before offering your final version submitted for the actual competition.
Some excellent websites to assist you in your venture (special thanks to these sites for their superb draft research):
NFLDraftScout.com (particularly good with its estimated draft rounds for each prospect)
Justin Houston – Defensive End – Georgia
Many believed that Houston was way off the Falcons radar since he was slotted to purely be a 3-4 outside linebacker. After showing up a little heavier than expected to the combine and the fact that the Falcons will hold a private workout with the Bulldog star, it seems like a perfect fit. Measuring just under 6’3 and hitting 270 at the combine, Houston absolutely could fill a huge need for the Falcons where his pass rushing skills and playing in space could help the Birds immediately.
Many still believe that Houston will be drafted by a 3-4 team, but he produced in the best conference in college football in the 4-3 as a junior (15 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks) and made the conversion to the 3-4 very well (18.5 TFL, 10 sacks). Would go against Thomas Dimitroff’s belief in drafting only seniors, but the last time he pulled the trigger on a junior, it worked out pretty well (Curtis Lofton). Would give Van Gorder and Smith immense talent as a 4-3 DE and open up tons of possibilities with him dropping in space.
Randall Cobb – Wide Receiver – Kentucky
One of the most popular picks among fellow Cage members, Cobb is a type of playmaker that can do it all. Definitely not considered a #1 wide receiver by most draft websites, but one of the most dynamic prospects to fit in the slot or even as a #2 wideout. Dimitroff and Smith both have been quoted repeatedly as needing more “explosion.” Cobb measured 5’10, 191 and posted a 4.46 forty time at the combine.
Cobb runs great routes and is very shifty, even though he’s not a true burner. Would immediately upgrade something the Falcons sorely need which is Yards After Catch. Cobb broke the SEC single-season record for most all-purpose yards with 2,396. The Wildcat caught 84 balls for 1,017 yards with 7 TDs, but also ran for 424 yards with 5 TDs, and even threw 3 touchdowns as a QB. According to NFL Draft Scout, “he put points on the board eight different ways this season – rushing, receiving and passing for touchdowns; returning a punt for a TD; throwing for a TD on a fake field goal; and notching two-point conversions by rushing, passing and receiving.” That’s impressive. Cobb could be an insurance policy at returner in case they parted ways with Weems.
Dontay Moch – Outside Linebacker – Nevada
If the Falcons want to add speed and explosion to their team, there aren’t many better than Dontay Moch. The guy’s speed is insane, running a 4.40 forty while being 6’1, 248. Amazing production as a four year starter notching 241 tackles, 71 tackles for a loss, 1o pass break ups, and a whopping 28.5 sacks. Even though he didn’t participate in the combine, he’s even been clocked as being as fast as 4.25. Knocks against Moch include his inability to change direction enough and will need some work to become a starter at the next level. Could be in a good spot since the Falcons most likely will re-sign Stephen Nicholas (or at least should). Are Smith, Van Gorder, and Dimitroff too inflexible to take him if he doesn’t fit the scheme perfectly? Maybe, but if they want explosion, they don’t get faster than Moch.
Marcus Gilbert – Offensive Tackle – Florida
The Falcons may elect to go offensive tackle earlier since more than likely Tyson Clabo will be exiting for a huge payday and the Birds are looking to get younger. They’re not ready to give up on Sam Baker at LT just yet, re-signed Will Svitek, and probably will give Giant Garrett Reynolds the starting nod at RT after tutoring under OL Coach Boudreau for two years. Marcus Gilbert from Florida could be an excellent pickup if he lasts this late.
The former Gator has prototypical size at 6’6, 330 and could project as a future left tackle in the NFL at some point. Scouts say that Gilbert is a solid pass protector with good lateral movement, but needs to improve against 3-4 rush linebackers. A very willing run blocker who readily engages would-be blitzers and gets down field to mix it up. Moved to right tackle as a senior, so do the Falcons need another right tackle project?
Derrick Locke – Running Back – Kentucky
Could the Falcons dip into the Wildcat well with two picks in 2011? The Falcons likely will be keeping both Turner and Snelling unless something changes from now until the draft, which doesn’t seem plausible. Turner and Snelling form a great dual threat between the tackles, but neither has breakaway speed and that was painfully evident in many of the Falcons losses last year. The Birds can’t really count on Norwood to stay healthy anymore, so speed is needed in the backfield.
Locke has been extremely productive the last two years at Kentucky, rushing for 1,800 yards, 12 TDs, almost 600 receiving yards, and 4 TDs as a junior and a senior in the rough and tumble SEC. Showed great speed at the combine when he ran a 4.40 forty time. Would be a perfect complement to Turner and Snelling and could definitely gain a role as a 3rd down back and receiver out of the backfield. Will he last until the 5th round?
Jeron Johnson – Strong Safety – Boise State
One of the most dangerously thin positions for the Falcons is at safety after they parted ways with Erik Coleman and Shann Schillinger went on IR for the season in 2010. Thomas DeCoud and William Moore had outstanding years in their first year starting (even though DeCoud took a step back) and look to get even better as they play together more. Both safety positions will be on the board for depth, especially at strong safety and in special teams.
Johnson has a great size at 5’11, 210 and possesses good speed as well, running a 4.51 forty yard dash. Had 100+, 90+, and 80+ tackles as a sophomore, junior, and senior, respectively. Even though not a playmaker in terms of getting his hands on the ball, he still totaled 8 picks and 25 pass break ups in his career. Is a great tackler and hits with ferocity, but has issues in coverage.
Richard Sherman – Cornerback – Stanford
At this late stage, it’s anybody’s guess, but the Falcons could use some size and speed in their cornerback corps. It’s assumed that the Falcons will re-sign their Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, but they parted with Brian Williams creating an opening at nickel back for Chris Owens or Dominique Franks. They may opt to go cornerback earlier, but if they don’t Sherman could be a late round steal.
Sherman has great size (6’2, 192) and pretty good speed to go along with it running a 4.54 forty. He was also a playmaker on a highly successful Stanford team. He had 49 tackles, 9 pass break ups, and 4 interceptions. Would be in a good spot to slowly develop.
Ricardo Lockette – Wide Receiver – Fort Valley State
Local product was interviewed by the Falcons and is extremely raw, but lacks great size (6’3, 211) and speed (4.41). As most all late round picks, Lockette would have a very tough time cracking the 53 man roster while they already have White, Jenkins, Douglas, Meier, and Weems. And there’s a distinct possibility they will draft another wide receiver early on.
So there you have it Bird Cage Faithful, Falcons Full Mock Madness is in the books. Now the real fun begins…….your turn.
-Like, hate, or indifferent to Falcons First Full Mock?
-Which picks do you like most?
-Which picks do you like least?
-Is Houston a legit consideration at DE? Or is he destined for a 3-4?
-What about Cobb: will he even last until Falcons pick in 2nd round?
-Should Falcons go OLB early on again?
-Give your own Falcons Full Mock Madness 1.0