Grade the 2011 Atlanta Falcons Draft

Time to Dish Out Your Grades

Coming to an End-zone Near You (J.Getz/AJC)

Well, just as Mel Kiper and Todd McShay and every other “expert” give their draft grades (even though they know a miniscule amount compared to our Bird Cage Family), it’s time for the real Atlanta Falcon experts to give their draft grades. If nothing else, you can’t say this draft was boring and it surely has provided us with plenty to talk about for the next several months (hopefully not longer than normal due to the lockout). Since the letter grades have been played out and then some, we’ll try something a little different this year. Instead of using the letter grades (B-, etc), try using the number scale from 1 – 10. This will give you more options of assessing the Atlanta Falcons draft. 1 would be absolutely Adam Jennings muffed punt terrible and 10 would be Roddy White 3 consecutive Pro Bowl worthy. And with that, here’s the Bird Cage’s take…….

1st Round

Julio Jones – Wide Receiver – Alabama

The great debate has raged and raged since Falcons fans jaws dropped to the floor with the shocking launch up the charts to grab one of the best receivers to come out of college in quite some time. Many are still outraged for the amount of draft picks that Dimitroff gave up, but most have seemed to settle quite nicely around the fact that Julio Jones will be wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform likely for the next decade. What many fail to mention in the negative assessment is that we just got our future at wide receiver, and while there are no surefire picks, Jones missed only one start at Alabama playing in the toughest conference in college football. Not to mention the fact that he ran a 4.34 forty yard dash on a broken foot. Big. Fast. Tough. Great Blocker. Excellent Work Ethic. Superb Teammate. A True Deep Threat. What’s not to like?

Many are still upset about what the Birds gave up (officially: 2nd and 4th rounder this year and a 1st and 4th rounder next year). Not too hard rationalizing giving up two 4th rounders (Lawrence Sidbury and Joe Hawley type picks), a 2nd rounder, and a future 1st rounder (Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon have had little production) to grab one of the most talented wide receivers to come out in quite some time. If you’re worried about the pressure, than a comforting fact is that Jones has produced wherever he’s gone and always been highly rated. This one could (and will) go on forever, but it was a calculated risk and sometimes you have to make them to reach your ultimate goals. Grade – 8

3rd Round

Akeem Dent – Linebacker – Georgia

Good Pick or Reach? (B.Sanderlin/AJC)

This one is the big head-scratcher of this draft. Dent was a pretty productive linebacker who had the misfortune for playing for a pretty awful defensive coordinator for his first 3 years and then had to undergo a complete change in philosophy his senior year, where he was moved inside to play linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Outside of his tackles (240 career), his career stats weren’t eye-popping in the least: 12.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 0 interceptions. Perhaps having to change positions hurt both his instincts and awareness, but he did manage a career high in sacks as a senior (2.5). There also is the issue of a common problem at UGA being the underdevelopment of players while they are in college, most of which go on to have pretty high and immediate success in the NFL. Many are screaming reach on this one because most draft sites had Dent going mostly around the 6th or 7th rounds or even not getting drafted. It was more shocking than last year’s 3rd round selection because Corey Peters seemed to ranked at least a little higher than Dent and was more productive.

That being said though, the Peters pick should remind fans that although it may make absolutely no sense to us fans, Dimitroff usually has a pretty well-thought out plan. Peters was one of the most productive rookies to come on board immediately in quite some time, beating out veterans Trey Lewis, Peria Jerry, and Vance Walker for many starts. Judging from conversations he seems as though he’ll be ready for major special teams duties and backing up Curtis Lofton, who just underwent surgeries on both of his knees. Either Lofton’s status is way more uncertain than we thought or Dent may eventually challenge for an outside linebacker spot. It’s not that far fetched. Akeem Ayers, regarded as the 2nd best OLB in this draft, had similar measurables and was only a hundredth of a second faster than Dent (4.72 compared to 4.73). As Coop said, it’s hard to believe we’re at a point of drafting pure backups in the 3rd round. Grade – 4

5th Round

Jacquizz Rodgers – Running Back – Oregon State

Best Pick of the Draft? (D.Wolverton/Oregon State)

Even though Mel Kiper generally didn’t think too highly of the Falcons overall draft, one of his 3 “draft gems” was Rodgers. This was an excellent pick both in terms of position need and value. Rodgers was one of the most productive running backs to come out in the draft this year. His smaller stature (5’6) may have led many teams to pass on him and his somewhat slow combine time of 4.59 (4.47 at Pro Day) may have scared others away. For a change-of-pace back, he may not have blazing speed, but some guys are just great football players and Rodgers production shows that. The guy racked up 3,790 yards rushing in his career, never ran for under 1,000 yards in any one year, had 46 rushing TDs, 1,036 receiving yards, 4 receiving TDs, and only fumbled one time in 766 rushing attempts. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love this pick.

Rodgers will fit perfectly into the stable of running backs the Falcons have with Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. One of the biggest issues last season was the Falcons inability to attack the edges by throwing to runners out of the backfield. When Turner was in the game, you basically knew he wouldn’t be getting a pass. When Snelling was in the game, getting a pass was very likely and he did very well with it, but he was never really a threat to take it the distance. Rodgers may not be Carl Lewis in terms of foot speed, but his quickness, toughness, agility, and carrying gives the Falcons much more of a threat out of the backfield and very complementary running back corps. Grade – 10

6th Round

Matt Bosher – K/P – Miami

Give the Kid a Chance, eh? (AP)

Oh the agony and pain. When grading this pick, you can’t give negative numbers. The initial shock was the absolute worst because when the Falcons selection came up, it showed Bosher only as a punter and not a kicker. There were so many great potential prospects on the board at the time and we go with a punter in the 6th round? Many are still seeing red with this pick, but some have started to come around to the pick a decent amount after reading about him and seeing where he may fit into the Falcons roster. First of all, he’s one of the only kickers available who was “multi-purpose” meaning he could do it all: kickoff, punt, and place-kick (Alex Henery was the other one who was drafted in the 4th round by the Eagles). The good: Bosher was 97.7% in PAT’s throughout his entire career, he was 84.9% accurate from all the field goals he kicked while at Miami, played in all games throughout his entire career at Miami, very accurate long distance FG kicker, and averaged 44 yards per punt with a long of 62.

The big reason that Bosher was potentially drafted was to immediately replace Michael Koenen, who definitely has been slipping in terms of both punts and kickoffs. Koenen received the franchise tag last year and was one of the highest paid punters in the entire NFL, earning a whopping $2.731 million, which came out to a 110% pay raise. Simply put, Koenen’s time is likely over in Atlanta. Dimitroff also knew that he would have no access to undrafted free agents this year due to the lockout and, even though many know for certain he would’ve been there in the 7th, you can’t really say that with absolute conviction. If the Falcons have found their future kicker and punter, as they lead to believe, than this can be considered a good pick in the 6th round. If, however, Koenen is still wearing red and black come August or Bosher struggles with field goals, than this has to be considered a major reach.Contingency: Grade – 7 – Assuming he replaces Koenen and is productive.  Grade – 0 – If he doesn’t replace Koenen and struggles with punts and kicks

7th Round

Andrew Jackson – Guard – Fresno State

This could be a gem in and of itself. Jackson earned 1st Team All-American as a junior and would definitely have gone much higher if not for suffering an injury before his senior year. Described by Trent Dilfer as “one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever been around,” Jackson has power, size, and the highly sought after versatility that Dimitroff and Coach Mike Smith are looking for in their players. A high effort player described by CBS NFL Draft Scout as a “tough, gritty lineman who loves to get physical and finish plays by driving his opponent into the ground.” He does need to work on his footwork and the injury is a little concerning, but he gives great value and depth at a position that is looking more and more that either Harvey Dahl or Justin Blalock will not be returning next year. Grade – 7

7th Round

Cliff Matthews – Defensive End – South Carolina

Can Matthews Contribute as a Rookie? (AP)

In terms of value, and as silly as it sounds, this may very well be the best pick of the draft. Everyone has been clamoring for pass rush help for several years now. Even though Biermann appears to be on the verge of making the jump, he hasn’t done so just yet. Sidbury hasn’t even made it in for live snaps since he was a rookie, so this was welcome news to Falcons fans and draft experts alike. Matthews was slotted to go way earlier in the draft, somewhere around the 5th round or possibly even before that time. He competed in the SEC and had pretty good numbers: 149 career tackles, 26 tackles for a loss, and 15.5 sacks. Although he definitely has some work to do, Matthews has good size (6’4, 257, 4.82 forty) and with a great work ethic, he may even work his way into a rotation as a rookie. You never know, but Matthews may even become a starter one day. A terrific player who was a captain as a junior and a senior. This pick allayed some fears and ended the overall draft on a very positive note.  Grade – 9

Your Turn to Grade the Falcons Draft

  1. Overall What’s your thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons 2011 Draft?
  2. Give your own draft grades and analysis
  3. Simple: Was Julio Jones worth it?
  4. Not including the picks, what are your thoughts on Jones the player?
  5. If we’d stayed put, who would have been a better pick in rounds 1 and 2?
  6. Does any other player give the immediate impact that Julio offers?
  7. Dent Pick: reach or solid pick?
  8. Can/Should Dent compete for an OLB spot at some point?
  9. How much do you like the Rodgers picks?
  10. Was there another RB you’d rather have had?
  11. Give your analysis of the Bosher pick. Be nice to the kid please.
  12. Does Jackson make the opening day roster?
  13. Should they have gone OT instead of OG?
  14. Your thoughts on the Matthews picks?
  15. What’s your favorite pick? Least favorite pick?

275 comments Add your comment

D3

May 5th, 2011
1:06 pm

Great article by DOL. Check out the stats at the bottom of his article. 92% of our pass plays were under 20 yards. And some are still upset with Julio?

D3

May 5th, 2011
1:07 pm

ATLJBO

May 5th, 2011
1:22 pm

Check out the Atlanta Falcons 2011 draft class video http://alturl.com/6w9xx

waynester

May 5th, 2011
1:32 pm

OK, I’ll bite:
rd1 (10) ballsy move on the closest thing to a sure thing left in the draft.
rd3 (8) same numbers as Ayers at a better price. Not a starter? We drafted him as a Core STs player.
rd 5 (10) exactly the guy we wanted.
rd6 (8) No hedging, D3. Bosher was the best we could have hoped for in this round–will save big $$$
rd7 (8) Just needs the Boudreau touch to polish him up .
rd7 (8) Another late round gem from TD & Co.
Total draft grade: 8.5+

Falcon Fan

May 5th, 2011
2:12 pm

Big Ray

May 5th, 2011
2:27 pm

Round 1 Grade – 9 . This should be a 10, probably, but I’m adding a caveat. The only way I can see Jones not helping this offense to truly explode is if he gets hurt…something no one can predict. The price was high, but Dimitroff is not one to heedlessly throw picks away, even if his boss demands it. Dimitroff will get picks back in a variety of ways, and you can bank on that. He’s had plans in the works, and you can bet on that as well.

Round 3 Grade – 7 . Proof is in the pudding. Dent is a talent, but can he start at OLB? If not, and we assume he’s not here to replace Lofton, then his value (even if he turns out to be an absolute ace on STs) isn’t as high as his draft slot. But then, that’s all philosophical anyway. Earning his way into some snaps at OLB will help this pick be an 8 or higher grade. Getting Biermann off STs has a value as well.

Round 5 Grade – 10 . Rodgers fits the mold of what we want/need and it’s tremendous value this late in the draft. His size? Gonna be more of a help than a hindrance if you ask me. Teams had a rough time finding Warrick Dunn behind the big bodies until it was too late. Expect the same from the clever Rodgers.

Round 6 grade – 6. Again, the proof is in the pudding. Bosher was the only guy in the draft that could do what we needed and possibly be a rescue for Bryant as well if he slides in classic Jeff Elam style. But if all he does is punt and kickoff, it’s not going to be easy to appreciate him unless he performs the way Koenen used to. By then, we’ll forget all about him like we do any other punter/kickoff specialists.

Note: If you think this was a flubbed pick, then thank God you’re not an Eagles fan. They picked a punter/kicker 2 rounds earlier than we did. And I’m sure they had “needs”, too.

Round 7 Grade – 8. This may turn out to be a higher grade as well. Jackson is a perfect fit for this team and will learn Boudreau’s system in no time. He may even turn out to be one of our best OL picks in recent years. Matthews is another guy who I suspect will be a STs performer. However, he’s also a darkhorse candidate to push for snaps on the edge. You just never know. May be better depth for our DEs than we have now. Bye bye, Chauncey Davis…

Big Ray

May 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

JB FALCON

May 5th, 2011
2:33 pm

First of all, I don’t believe in 10’s. That would mean they are perfect and the spot is reserved. Looking at the player and considering where he was taken.
#1, 9 The price has no effect on my grade. We couldn’t have done better
#3, 8 Good player but there were better to be had
#5, 9 My favorite pick
#6, 8 If a kicker is what you went for
#6, 9 Good pick
#7, 9 Good pick Overall= 8.5 94%, considering I don’t give 10’s.

Rikus

May 5th, 2011
2:39 pm

How does giving out numbers give more options than letter grades? I do understand wanting to get away from the whole “grading” mentality, as it’s too soon for that. I guess we can think of the 1-10 numbers as “fan excitement level” for the pick.

Total cop-out on Bosher, D3. If you are going to grade on contingencies, why not just give everyone a contingent 10, assuming they reach the pro bowl? =P

I for one was shocked and a bit dismayed when Bosher popped up on my list. I guess Dimitroff & Co. didn’t like V. Green as much as the rest of us. We have two free-agent kickers this year, so maybe they are trying to consolidate roster space…

Rikus

May 5th, 2011
2:41 pm

P.S. Andrew Jackson was a 7th round pick, not 6th (as state in the article).

[...] Grade the 2011 Atlanta Falcons DraftAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Well, just as Mel Kiper and Todd McShay and every other “expert” give their draft grades (even though they know a miniscule amount compared to our Bird Cage Family), it's time for the real Atlanta Falcon experts to give their draft grades. …Falcons paid a ransom for Julio Jones; will payoff be Super?USA TodayThe 2011 TMQ draft reviewESPNWhite's value unaffected with Jones in Falcons offenseNFL NewsRotoworld.com -The Falcoholic -Turf Show Timesall 29 news articles » [...]

[...] Original post by Top Stories – Google News [...]

DK

May 5th, 2011
3:03 pm

>>Akeem Ayers, regarded as the 2nd best OLB in this draft, had similar measurables and was only a tenth of a second faster than Dent (4.72 compared to 4.73).

4.72 is one hundreth of a second faster than 4.73, not one tenth of a second as reported for Dent.

Bangkapi Ajarn

May 5th, 2011
3:20 pm

1. Overall What’s your thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons 2011 Draft?
Overall, I think it was severely impacted by the lockout and our FA free postseason (to this point of course). Not just the Falcons obviously, but I believe that TD DID take the cards he was dealt and tried to leverage what he had into an improved team and PR situation post lockout.
They get the benefit of the doubt from me.
2. Give your own draft grades and analysis
Macro grades – Offence A – major improvements at weakest points, as well as depth backup for a vulnerable O-Line.
Defense – D-, hoping for help from FA to replace our weakest link at NCB once Williams was lost. We drafted a backup LB and 7th round undersized DE that will fight to make the squad.
Overall team graft grade = I, no draft in the past could be evaluated until FA was taken into account, this one is no different.
*****************************
Position grades –
1st round – A+, immediately upgrades a weak position for the Falcons, perfect fit and upgrades multiple positions/players.
3rd round – B-/C+ – It seems to be a reach, but we don’t know the true situation with Lofton’s knees, and I remember saying reach with Peters last year – who turned out to be a great pick. Are we at the point that we can draft for ST and depth with our second pick of the draft? Could be a reaction to the lockout, ST studs WILL provide immediate payoff after the lockout ends.
5th round – A- Rogers doesn’t have the speed I thought we would get, but he DOES have explosiveness, shiftiness, etc.
It came down to a choice between a pale imitation of Reggie Bush (easily injured speed demon like Scott, Locke, etc.), or a pale imitation of Warrick Dunn. TD went with the potential Dunn, and it is hard to disagree.
6th round – B- would be lower in another year, but he WILL provide immediate impact from a 6th rounder in a lockout year, no position player could provide that value THIS YEAR
7th – B –Hard to go higher than this with some 7th rounders, but both players have ST potential 1st year which is an area we need to work on, and the OL dude is insurance for a FA loss, to backfill the roster as players in line move up the depth chart.

Bangkapi Ajarn

May 5th, 2011
3:21 pm

Grade by 1-10 scale
1st 10
3rd 7
5th 9
6th 6
7th 5

Bangkapi Ajarn

May 5th, 2011
3:23 pm

3. Simple: Was Julio Jones worth it?
Could be, the true cost is to AB, as long as he ponies up to get FA’s that would replace draft picks it was a brilliant move to upgrade up to a level we couldn’t achieve in FA (WR)

4. Not including the picks, what are your thoughts on Jones the player?
Excellent fit for the Falcons, best fit of all players in the 2011 draft class, regardless of position. He will make those around him better if he stays healthy.

5. If we’d stayed put, who would have been a better pick in rounds 1 and 2?
Aaron Williams and Jernigan. We could have traded up a bit in the 3rd to get Mason Foster with the extra 4th, and stayed pat with the rest of the draft.

6. Does any other player give the immediate impact that Julio offers?
Possibly Patterson or Green, that’s it.

7. Dent Pick: reach or solid pick?
Feels like a reach, but so did Peters last year. Depth and ST, but perhaps that is the best you can do in a lockout year.

Bangkapi Ajarn

May 5th, 2011
3:25 pm

8. Can/Should Dent compete for an OLB spot at some point?
Maybe, but I have my doubts.

9. How much do you like the Rodgers picks?
Best Case, Warrick Dunn II. Worst case, an upgrade over Norwood. I like it.

10. Was there another RB you’d rather have had?
In retrospect, he was our best option in the 5th round.

11. Give your analysis of the Bosher pick. Be nice to the kid please.
Lockout inspired decision to get immediate impact value from the 6th round. He could free a roster spot under the new kickoff rules.

12. Does Jackson make the opening day roster?
Depends on how free agency plays out, he is a low cost insurance policy that provides limited value under certain circumstances (OL FA loss).

13. Should they have gone OT instead of OG?
In the 7th you get value where you can.

14. Your thoughts on the Matthews picks?
Good value, not sure where he fits on the roster.

15. What’s your favorite pick? Least favorite pick?
Favorite, best player category – JJ, hands down – as the 6th overall, he should be!
Favorite, best value category Rogers, like everyone else – and their cousin.
Favorite, sheer guts category, Bosher in the 6th
Favorite, home cookin’ category – Dent
Favorite, small town mensa monster category – Jackson
Favorite, all heart category – Matthews

Least favorite Picks – our 2nd and 4th – cut those putrid purveyors of pestilence!– Begone, foul collectors of DUI’s – Oh, wait, looks like TD cut them before they made the roster, HMMMM.

waynester

May 5th, 2011
3:29 pm

I thought we were rating how we viewed each pick, so it’s not an entirely logical process….

UGABugKiller

May 5th, 2011
3:31 pm

Calling Dent a reach is idiotic. McShay said he expected Dent to come off the board sooner.

Unlike his running mate at UGA (Houston), Dent is a high-motor, never quit guy who is a tackling FOOL.

Yes, due to Richt’s coddling of his coaches, Dent will have to work hard to get up to NFL-level readiness, but if you don’t think he can do it, then you’re not paying attention.

The kid is stout. He has a nose for the ball. He will be a ST standout, and has a damn good chance to start with CLo and Spoon, considering how old and slow Peterson looked last year.

Reach my @ss.

The Real Falcon

May 5th, 2011
3:31 pm

The Real Falcon

May 5th, 2011
3:35 pm

Reach at 3rd round for a slow ILB who cannot cover. He is NOT Peters.
Who drafts a kicker?
A 7th round pick is never a 9 dude.

JB FALCON

May 5th, 2011
3:52 pm

OMG, I had such high hope for beirman but it looks like he is a little distracted.
http://bleacherreport.com/tb/b9lhL

just me

May 5th, 2011
4:04 pm

Julio Jones – Glad to see the front office step-up BIG TIME! Sure it cost some picks, but if the draft gets axed by the courts(doubt it) then the pick only cost us a 1st swap, a 2nd, and a 4th…wow! Julio was arguably the top reciever in the nation coming out of high school. He did not disappoint! He played through injuries. He turned in a sub 4.4 forty on a broken foot. He is a physical reciever that has speed. He is a team player and not a premadana! Coach Sabin said Julio is the kind of player that has a positive affect on not only the WR corp culture, but the team cuture! We got a great player who is a great person! That’s why I give this pick a 10!

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
5:05 pm

Pick 1, It should be a 10 but I will give it a 9 based on what we gave up. Pick 2, I will give a 7, it’s hard to judge a defensive player that played for Georgia the last few years. Pick 3 is my favorite, I’ll give it a 9 because we were lucky to get him. Pick 4, I will give a 5 because kickers are 50-50. Pick 5, I will give a 6 because there is no way of knowing how good he may or may not be but has potential. Pick 6, I will give a 6 also based on potential. It hard to give late round picks a better than good grade.

Ken Strickland

May 5th, 2011
5:09 pm

I love the move made by the Falcons. LB ADent might end up becoming much more than just a ST player. He’ll take a lot of pressure off MLB CLofton, and could end up being our designated pass rusher. Those who keep insisting we need a DE must realize we need a PASS RUSHER above all else, not just a DE.

What amuses me the most are these clowns who want or expect everyone else to be as stupid and gullible as they are in believing MRyan can’t throw long. And how rediculous is it for someone to speculate that WR JJones might not improve our passing, or overall OFF? Yet, some of these same JJones doubters seem to think that any DE we might have drafted with those picks would have automatically and immediately solved our pass rushing issues.

We have several players on our current roster with the talent and potential to improve our pass rush. But we don’t have a single player on our roster with the talent and/or potential to provide what will be provided by WR JJones and RB JRogers.

How many of you feel TD and Smitty made a mistake when they decided to go OFF and drafted QB MRyan instead of LSU DT GDorsey, who almost everyone else, including me, felt we needed most?

[...] See the rest here: Grade the 2011 Atlanta Falcons Draft – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

D3

May 5th, 2011
5:32 pm

Rikus — You a little ill today my friend? I fixed the Andrew Jackson pick to the correct round. Maybe the grading scale doesn’t give more options, so I should’ve said “let’s do something different.” If you want to call it a cop-out than fine, but the selection of a K/P in the 6th round DOES have contigency on him making the team and starting, otherwise it is a terrible pick.

DK — Corrected the error. Thanks for noticing. Would love your other thoughts on the draft besides just correcting my mistake.

UGABugkiller — I don’t think it was that much of a reach, but looking at pretty much all the websites, they all ranked him near the bottom in terms of value. Not saying its right or wrong, just where they ranked him.

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
5:34 pm

Agree Ken, anyone that don’t think Ryan can throw deep needs to go to the Branch and see for their selves. The man can throw deep.

Nookah

May 5th, 2011
6:16 pm

Greetings Cagers!!!

Let me try my hand at this:

Round 1 – 9.5 – I concur with the consesus so far. 10 would be perfect and we have no such player. Will prove to be the best player in the draft.

Round 3 – 6 – The greatest unknown exists here. I hope he exceeds all expectations. The grade is due mainly to my ignorance of his playing ability and his pre-draft value. Now Akeem prove us all wrong and turn out to be the best find of 2011.

Round 5 – 8.5 – This guy on film reminds me of Barry Sanders type cuts. I know that is lofty status but I am referring only to the cuts nothing else for the time being. By the way what was his 10yds time and how did it rank at the combine?

Round 6 – 8 Cover for Koenen? Insurance

Round 6 – 8 I’m going out on a limb here and I think this guy will be very good. Even though we will not know until a couple of years down the road I really like this pick.

Round 7 – 8. Has the physical and intangible tools and football means a lot to this guy. He will put in the necessary work to be the best he can be.

GPA – 8

That’s my take for what it’s worth.

Go Falcons!!!.

uga_b

May 5th, 2011
7:01 pm

Clearly, we won’t agree but

Round 1 – 8 – Honestly, I cannot give a WR higher than an 8 because of the historical volatility. Great scheme fit; probably better than AJ. Most importantly, he seems like a locker room fit. Hard worker who can push the rest of the team. Outstanding athleticism. Needs to work on concentration and catching mechanics, but that is fixable.

Round 2 – 0 – The value of this draft started at 40 and we missed out on that.

Round 3 – 7 – Need pick, but wasn’t a reach. If a team is going to trade up to your spot to take that player, how is it a reach? Yes, I usually agree that you should look starter in 3rd round, but with injury concerns across the LB core and no real depth at ILB, this needed to be addressed. The other ILBs were more special team hydbrids instead of true NFL LBs. He gets a 7 because he also has the potential to challenge for starting SLB and at least crosstrain to let us put our best LBs on the field “irregardless” of their “position. A younger Wire with similar leadership and work ethic. Another locker room fit.

Round 4 – 0 – There were a few NCBs and intriguing RBs (that I don’t like better than) Rodgers.

Round 5 – 8 – If we limited it to scatback, this would be a 10. But since I don’t see him as an everyday starter, I had to grade him down. Similar elusiveness as other backs with better production and less injuries. Works for yards, tough even inside.

Round 6 – 4 – This was a need pick that was a reach. I am going to make 5 average so this is a below average pick. If we take him in the 7th, I would rank it a 7. Sorry, but I don’t buy the need to draft a punter. I am also the only one that apparently remembers the Koenen experience which was the first attempt to have one guy do all 3 in a long time. Doubt we are smarter than 31 other teams over the last 20 years. But, at his position, this is a great pick. Good stats pinning people inside the 20, but I don’t EVER see him having the accuracy required in the NFL. Henery would have been an 9 given NCAA record accuracy.

Round 7 – 8 – He gets an 8 for the round and his starter level upside. Graded down based on injury history. Another great locker room guy that gives us the flexibility we are looking at for all positions.

Round 7 – 0 – Grab a FB or at least have a CB that can look at the playbook for camp to make it hard on the offense. Or go OT with some of the longterm developmental talent.

Round 7 – 10 – My favorite pick, clearly. Third round talent that fell because people got tired of DE and started picking CBs, QBs, and WRs. No real injury history and high motor guy. Doesn’t have the athletic upside for a higher round but here it is well above average. Can compete on Special Teams and allow us to cut JA98 or Sidbury. If not, maybe we sneak him onto the practice squad. Either way he will make training camp more valuable by competing. Another great locker room fit.

(8 + 0 + 7 + 0 + 8 + 4 + 8 + 0 + 10)/9 = 5

I will grade like it is Freshman Calculus, so C+. But for the haters, I graded our picks at 7.5 and it would’ve been 8 if we had flipped our picks at 6 & 7. 7.5/8 is B+/A- range.

John Waynesworld

May 5th, 2011
7:04 pm

Great stuff D3, thanks…

1st Pick – Julio Jones. I admit I was hoping for Green to be taken (damnable Bengals’ greed wanting a 3rd Round cherry on top lol) but getting Julio despite missing on A.J. tells me that these two guys are the best receivers in this year’s AND next year’s draft, in TD’s professional opinion. He wouldn’t have done this otherwise and we should all be starting to digest that fact. A fine young man who will make everybody better. GRADE: 10

2nd Pick – Akeem Dent. Unlike many here in the Cage, I feel this is a solid pick. A team captain and a hard hitting ball hunter who will stuff the run. Secure tackler. If Dent can stay healthy, he will be a tremendous player and may save the day if Lofton’s knees cause trouble. GRADE: 7

3rd Pick – Jacquizz Rodgers. Awesome pick. We have all been singing for a scatback and by golly TD supplied us with a good one. Quick, hard to see, can catch passes, doesn’t fumble, doesn’t have an injury history…awesome. GRADE: 10

4th Pick – Matt Bosher. It has to be a replacement and money saving pick. I am curious as to why not let Bryant kick off now that the line has been moved up, but we don’t even know about his status. A real head scratcher, but another team captain. GRADE: 4

5th Pick – Andrew “The President” Jackson. High ankle sprains are crappy injuries and can happend to anyone, and it ruined Jackson’s season. This guy is exactly the kind of guy our team uses. Smart, attitude, plays through the whistle, another team captain. This guy should have been a 4th or 5th Rounder except for his injury. GRADE: 8

6th Pick – Cliff Matthews. Again, another team captain as well as an honor student. A high motor guy who tackles like he is pulling down a calf in a rodeo. Alma Mater of Dunta and Abe. Plays like Abe. He may be the surprise of the 2011 DE draft and the reason TD keeps getting awards. GRADE: 8

10+7+10+4+8+8= 47 % 6 picks = OVERALL GRADE:8

JB FALCON

May 5th, 2011
7:37 pm

JWW, good post. TD must have a thing with team captains, four out of six! I didn’t pick up on that. Think about it. Team captain; doesn’t have to be told what to do; plays up to his maximum ability as an example; expects everyone else to do the same; has a thorough knowledge of the game and each position; helps coach other players; keeps a positive mental attitude; and on and on. I’m sure that “filter” the Falcons are known for has some substance to it. JB

Unca' Bob

May 5th, 2011
8:17 pm

JB,

You have hit the nail on the head. What TD and Smitty have done since they have been here, is to pick players with a very good work ethic as well as leadership. They tend to select players that exude character. What they get are players that over achieve and do what over achievers do, over achieve…Just a thought.

uga_b

May 5th, 2011
8:27 pm

JB, the Falcons filter is the most common theme. All hard workers who play til the whistle. All showed leadership capabilities. No off the field issues. If you ask yourself why we didn’t take such and such talent, that is probably the answer.

Also, no Big 12 and a lot of them close by which made me wonder if that was due to the lockout.

JJ

May 5th, 2011
8:30 pm

D3, great post, think your grade of Dent is a little low. Maybe you just dont want to show any favoritism?

Waynester/JB – you guys nailed it IMHO.

Caj – was just having some chuckles last night. I actually feel the same as Big Ray on Mr. Brookings, but I know how it pisses you off so I embellished (sp) a little.

Big Ray

May 5th, 2011
8:39 pm

JJ , you utter cad, you…. :lol:

JJ

May 5th, 2011
8:56 pm

Big Ray, yes sir, I’m an azz but with no malice in my heart. By the way, will you ever give up the dirt on the spirits owners you mentioned a few weeks ago? I went to school with Michael (go war eagles) but didn’t know him very well. He was a very good bball player and I know that he and his dad have loved the hawks since we were in school. Think his dad was a consultant back then for a $1 yr. Anyway, this whole spirit group has been a historic failure and proof that multi-ownership groups dont work.

JJ

May 5th, 2011
9:21 pm

JWW, great analysis except the Bosher grade. This seams to be the divider in the cage this yr. With Phily taking the #1 K/P 2 rounds earlier, we got the #2 rated guy. Special teams, especially K is so impt. in W/L. If this guy is close to as advertised than its a huge pick. Otherwise, love your analysis! And our LAST pick may be our sleeper DE is a great gamble that prob. wont pay off for a yr or two.

crabapplejoe

May 5th, 2011
9:40 pm

Well now, at least one writer at SI gives our draft a D-:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/kerry_byrne/05/01/draft.grades/index.html

@JJ: Missed your post yesterday in the last thread….is it worth going back and reading?

JJ

May 5th, 2011
9:47 pm

not really but cut and paste away.

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
9:52 pm

CAJ, what is your honest grade of this Falcons draft and I mean honest? You are a smart man and I don’t think anyone will deny that. Give us your grade and why? Not SI’s grade.

JB FALCON

May 5th, 2011
9:55 pm

JJ, you may be one to something with our LAST pick. 4.5 sacks is better than Bierman! Read the snap shot. Played with a shoulder harness and set a record for most career starts!
http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=70825&draftyear=2011&genpos=DE

JB FALCON

May 5th, 2011
10:00 pm

CA, if you look hard enough you will find someone that gives us “the worst draft of the century”!
Definition of PESSIMISM
1: an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome
2a : the doctrine that reality is essentially evil b : the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life

crabapplejoe

May 5th, 2011
10:18 pm

@Falcon 21: It is difficult to grade the draft because the whole draft hinges on what one player does or doesn’t do. In my humble opinion I don’t think that’s the way one builds a team ala the Patriots. I’m sure I’ll be called a “racist” for not slobbering all over one WR as the great saviour of the team, but what if he tears his ACL the second day of practice…is this a great draft? The first round of every NFL draft is filled with players that are busts. What if he is a bust? Remember we drafted Michael Jenkins in the first round. I like the Jaquizzzzz Rodgers pick in the late rounds….thats how you build a team….just wish his Momma would have named him James or something else….LOL.

@D3: So me pointing out that the Packers kicked our arse in the playoffs and put up 48 points on a defense that hasn’t changed through this draft makes me a “Packer fan”…..dude, I’ve been doing this since 1966…through all the bad years….so I guess you think that Julio Jones is going to stop Aaron Rogers/Jordy Nelson, et al…..now that is funny. I mention the Packers because they beat the Falcons in the playoffs and won the SB….might want to look at that, and think about that….or we can all just do a circle jerk to JJ for the next three months….geez.

@JJ: Went back and looked at the last thread…..folks ya’ll got to give up this KB56 stuff. I know ya’ll all feel bad about how you dogged one of the best Falcons ever because of his race….and still call yourselfs “Falcons fans”….but you gotta let it go….he’s been out in Dallas for a couple of years now….and we have a LB corp that gets beat like a rented mule in pass coverage. Akeem Dent doesn’t change that.

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
10:31 pm

CAJ, you were honest and I can’t disagree with a honest opinion. I also like the Rodgers pick and I think it will turn out even better than we think.

D3

May 5th, 2011
10:34 pm

CAJ — Fair enough. So I challenge you to talk about the Falcons and the Falcons alone without any comparisons to any other team or any other player for a week. Should be easy since you’ve been such a fan since 1966.

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
10:42 pm

Later D3, CAJ and JJ. Just one more work day and done for a couple. Hell, I got the grass to cut. Never mind!!!

John Waynesworld

May 5th, 2011
10:44 pm

JJ, I think you’re right about Matthews, and when I said he tackles like pulling down a calf at a rodeo I meant it as a good thing. As soon as he grabs someone he throws out the anchor. He does the same thing multiple times during this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnVMrltDc4

Viewer beware, he does a number on some beloved Dawgs. Watch for that anchor!

falcon21

May 5th, 2011
10:56 pm

JWW, working on a farm as a kid and thinking I was a rodeo star I new what you meant. Good stuff JWW. I am gone now and I mean it.

Big Ray

May 5th, 2011
11:17 pm

Ok, so honesty from CAJ . Not a damn thing wrong with it, all except for this on Keith Brooking –

I know ya’ll all feel bad about how you dogged one of the best Falcons ever because of his race

That’s the problem I think anybody around here has with you. Who is “y’all”, and please, please, please pull up a post on this blog where any of the Cage members dogged Brooking because of his race. . I want hard proof.

No, YOU said it. Therefore YOU get to prove it. And I mean here , not on one of D. Ledbetter’s blogs where every insane person with access to a keyboard likes to post. HERE.

Oh, um…unless of course by “y’all” you meant a different group of people. Perhaps people of a particular skin color? Nah, you wouldn’t mean or say that. What a preposterous suggestion. I’ll go with the first thought, that you’re only accusing members of the Bird Cage of being racist.

The same racists that have dogged Chris Houston (before he got traded), JA98 (who never catches a break…and shouldn’t), Chris Owens, Michael Jenkins, Michael Turner, etc. Every now and again we get confused and dog the hell out of Brian Van Gorder and Mike Mularkey, before switching back to Jerious Norwood or somebody.

Fact is, anybody would be proud to say they know a guy who has been a Falcon fan since 1966. That’s great. Of course, few knew you were a Falcon fan because they’ve been fooled by your countless negative comments about the team, members of the team, and the current ownership and management. I mean, who would have believed that a true, dyed-in-the-wool Falcon fan would be so overwhelmingly negative about the very owner and GM that brought this franchise it’s first consecutive winning seasons in a row? Sorry, should have known you were a fan, but couldn’t see past the vitriol.

Funny thing is, all that would be ignored, except the racial stuff never quite goes away, where you are concerned. I think anybody and everybody here respects your football knowledge, even in the face of constant insults and negative criticism. The racial stuff has no place, and you’re not convincing anybody on that front. So drop it.