Seems like the big day will never get here. Combine’s over and most Pro Days have already occurred, leaving us fans with a painful drought of football until the NFL Draft finally gets here. It’s also been tough this year with no free agency to get us through most of March. The big weekend is still almost 5 weeks away (4 weeks as of Thursday) and all we’re left is going over the endless scenarios on who the Falcons will draft and when. And with that, here’s Falcons Full Mock Madness 2.2…….
Torrey Smith – Wide Receiver – Maryland
Many may disagree on the need to upgrade the wide receiver position, but repeated comments by both Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff about needing to be “much more explosive” can’t help but be directed at the wide receiving corps. Michael Jenkins should definitely be apart of the receivers, but he’s been unable to show he can carry the team if Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are double covered. They also appear to lack blind faith in just hoping that Harry Douglas or Kerry Meier return to form. For whatever reason, Eric Weems has been no part of the aerial attack. Enter Torrey Smith.
Generally considered the 3rd best receiver in the draft behind the “Big Two,” AJ Green and Julio Jones. Even though only a junior, Smith had some very impressive numbers as a sophomore (61 receptions, 824 yards, 5 TDs) and a breakout junior year (67 receptions, 1,024 yards, 12 TDs). He has great size (6’1, 208) that pairs with his excellent burner speed (4.40) that the Falcons definitely crave. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Smith’s best ability is his ability to run after the catch, which is one of the Falcons biggest problem areas outside of Roddy White.
Sometimes drafting a receiver in the 1st round can be risky, but recent history has shown that picking one later in the 1st round can really pay off such as Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Dez Bryant. Set an ACC record with 2,983 kick return yards, which could offset a potential loss of Eric Weems. NFLDraftScout.com quoted former head coach Ralph Friedgen as saying “God created a perfect person” due to Smith’s humility and dedication. Even though he’s a junior, he graduated from college in 2 and half years. His work ethic and character would be a perfect fit for the Falcons locker room. The Falcons get the explosion and speed they need and desire.
Allen Bailey – Defensive End – Miami
The Falcons will likely look for defensive end in the first round since this is a very deep class, but if they don’t get they guy they want, they will get another shot at a good one in the second round. Allen Bailey is tantalizing defensive end prospect due to his size (6’3, 285) and speed (4.77). He was one of the fastest defensive end prospects and did one of the best number of bench reps for a true DE. Bailey didn’t have blinding statistics throughout his career and is definitely raw, but his talent coupled with his good work ethic seems as though the surface is barely scratched with Bailey.
Doesn’t have blinding statistics, but he did notch 33 tackles for loss and 20 sacks in his career, although he never had more than 7 sacks in any one year. Obviously is a great character player who has moved to three different positions (linebacker, defensive tackle, defensive end) to help out the team. Will definitely need work on the next level, but he could be in a perfect position in Atlanta where he could learn under John Abraham while also having Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury to rotate in with, lessening the pressure of needing an immediate impact at DE, a position with one of the deepest learning curves as a rookie. As with all prospects, could be gone by the Falcons pick late in the second round.
DeMarco Murray – Running Back – Oklahoma
Hard to believe that this guy will be around late in the third round when the Falcons pick, but most draft sites have him listed as going in the 2nd or 3rd round. In terms of production, they don’t come a whole lot better than Murray. Amassed 3,685 rushing yards, an eye-popping 50 TDs, 1,571 receiving yards, and 11 TDs over his illustrious career at Oklahoma. His senior year was his best, running for over 1,200 yards with 15 TDs and 594 receiving yards with 5 TDs. Has nice size (6’0, 213) and proved at the combine that his speed is no fluke (4.41). The Sooner running back may take some time to adjust to the rigors of the NFL and has questions on whether he can be a feature back due to his injury history.
The main knock on Murray is his lengthy injury history. Some of his injuries over his career include turf toe, an ankle injury, a dislocated knee cap, ruptured hamstring, and battled ankle and knee injuries even in his senior year. A first round talent that will probably drop due to his injury history. The Falcons need to add speed, but they already have one Jerious Norwood. Assuming no free agency takes place before the draft, taking running back may not be a high priority, but Murray would be too hard to pass up if he’s available in the 3rd round.
Lawrence Wilson – Outside Linebacker – Connecticut
Hard to imagine the Falcons not re-signing Stephen Nicholas since he’s been the most consistent linebacker under the Coach Smith era. He’s proven to be the most capable linebacker in terms of rushing the passer and athleticism. The assumption is that Nicholas, Curtis Lofton, and Sean Weatherspoon will round out the starting LBs, Coy Wire has been re-signed, and Smith has gone out of his way to talk about Spencer Adkins and Robert James getting big chances this season. The need for linebacker may not be that high, but more speed and pass rushing ability would be welcome.
Wilson may not be the best known OLB candidate, but he’s had great production at UConn and is a very fast linebacker who could learn under Lofton, Weatherspoon, and Nicholas. An outstanding tackling machine who collared 449 career tackles. He also has shown a knack for getting in the backfield with 35 tackles for a loss, 9 career sacks, coupled with 5 career picks. Wilson has nice size (6’1, 229), but probably could add a few more pounds. Had pretty good speed at the combine (4.75) and could add some much needed ability to pressure the backfield.
Lee Ziemba – Offensive Tackle – Auburn
The ratings are all over the place for the Tiger tackle. Ziemba is ranked to go in the 2nd or 3rd round by some, but slotted to go in the fifth round by others. Ziemba may not have the perfect size and ability, but started as a true freshman at left tackle and played all four years in the rough and tumble SEC and was a main reason the Auburn Tigers won the national championship. Ziemba could come into a similar role that Garrett Reynolds has played. Reynolds was also taken in the 5th round, has tutored under master OL Coach Paul Boudreau, and may be ready to take over right tackle when Tyson Clabo demands an enormous contract, as expected. Holds Auburn record for consecutive starts at 51, starting every game since 2007. The Falcons went a similar route with Mike Johnson who owns the record for most starts in Alabama history.
Byron Maxwell – Cornerback – Clemson
Since the Falcons decided to part ways with nickel back Brian Williams, they could decide to go for a cornerback much higher in the draft. They have their two starting cornerbacks in Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes (hard to imagine them not re-upping the recent Pro Bowler), but the nickel position is wide open. The nickel might as well be a starting position with the advent of heavy passing teams. News from Coach Smith is that they’re comfortable with Chris Owens and/or Dominique Franks to take over that position, so that’s the reason for the cornerback slotting so low…..for now.
Maxwell would bring nice size (6’0, 202) and speed (4.45) to a Falcons cornerback corps that don’t have anyone reaching the 6’0 height plateau. A solid tackler that notched 163 tackles over his career. Also had 20 pass break-ups, but is not necessarily a ball hawk, taking away only 3 interceptions in his career. Maxwell is an excellent special teams player and a very hard-hitting cornerback. Could work his way up quick in a an open competition with Owens and Franks.
Mark LeGree – Free Safety – Appalachian State
Although the Falcons are sitting pretty at the safety position with William Moore and Thomas DeCoud, this is perhaps the thinnest position on the roster. 2010 free safety draft pick Shann Schillinger looked good in camp and was performing well on special teams before he went down with a season injury that landed him on IR. The Birds parted ways with Erik Coleman who was a great leader and team guy, but was expendable with his large salary as a backup.
Mark LeGree could be a late round steal that could work his way up the roster while making his mark on special teams. Had 197 tackles over his career and an shocking 22 interceptions, notching 10 in one year alone. In fact, LeGree finished his career as the NCAA Division I leader of career interceptions. Is a little short for a free safety at 5’11, but possesses good speed (4.54) and is obviously a good ball hawk. Also known as one of the hardest hitting player on his team. Obvious knock from level of competition.
Adam Weber – Quarterback – Minnesota
Yes, this sounds insane, but this pick is only due to the fact that the Falcons scouts have either talked to, interviewed, or worked out at least 3 quarterbacks, according to various reports. Maybe the Falcons coaching staff and front office know something we fans don’t. Upon first glance, the QB depth chart is set with Matt Ryan, Chris Redman, and John Parker Wilson. Is there a possibility that either Redman or Wilson may be on the trade block? Hard to believe that the Falcons will let go of John Parker Wilson since he was claimed as an undrafted free agent and has shown excellent strides in preseason.
Weber could fill the role that Wilson has by coming on and possibly earning the 3rd QB spot and developing. That would be assuming that the Falcons were comfortable with John Parker Wilson taking over as the number two. Weber has nice size (6’3, 221) and even ran a 4.95 forty. His passing numbers are astounding, throwing for almost 11,000 yards and 72 touchdowns over his career. Would need to cut way down on his interceptions, but could develop in a good spot. The Falcons have reportedly scouted him.
-Like, hate, or indifferent to Falcons Full Mock 2.2?
-Who do you like out of this group?
-Who do you NOT like out of this group?
-Would Torrey Smith be a good pick in first round?
-How about Allen Bailey if he lasts that long?
-Any chance that DeMarco Murray lasts until late third round?
-What do you think of the Wilson, Ziemba, Maxwell, and LeGree picks?
-What’s up with the Falcons scouting QBs?
-Are Redman and/or Wilson on the block? Should they be?
-Make sure to give your own Falcons Full Mock 2. Only requirement is that it has to be different than your first.