What are Falcons Biggest Questions Heading to Draft?

Positions of Need

Is it Time to go DT Early Again? (AJC)

In a pre-game intro to the draft, The Bird Cage takes a look at the Falcons biggest needs after the first wave of free agency and what direction the Birds might be headed. After keeping most of the core together and adding a few free agents, here’s a look at the Falcons biggest question marks as the draft approaches:

Left Tackle

It begins and ends with left tackle. Yes, there’s some concern at safety, defensive tackle, tight end, and several other positions, but the biggest worry is left tackle. Specifically, the failure so far to at least add competition to the mix of Will Svitek and Sam Baker.

Right guard has at least 3 players competing for the spot in Mike Johnson, Andrew Jackson, and Vince Manuwai. Center appears to be in good shape with future Ring of Honor candidate Todd McClure battling promising Joe Hawley. Perhaps adding a left tackle for competition / development in the 2nd round has been the plan all along. Relying on Svitek and Baker alone with only new coaching is too risky for most fans. Right now, taking a left tackle has to be at the top of most likely to be taken with the Falcons first pick in the second round.

Middle Linebacker

One could argue that this position is a bigger question mark than left tackle since it is a truly unknown. At least Will Svitek has proven capable at LT. Although Lofa Tatupu was a proven Pro Bowler times three, that was before major injury and a long while since playing, especially in a 16 game season.

Huge Question Mark, but Players Already in Place (AJC)

Of course the biggest unknown is Akeem Dent. The surprise 3rd round pick gets his big chance to take over for Curtis Lofton. He played for an extremely poor defensive coordinator for his first 3 years and was caught in a transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 as a senior. UGA players also have a knack of being underdeveloped and turning out well in the NFL. One thing is for sure: Tatupu and Dent have their work cut out for them to replace Lofton’s production, at least in terms of tackling.

Even though this a huge question mark for 2012, they have their players in place and won’t be looking to the draft for help.

Safety

This one is gaining momentum with fans recently. It makes a ton of sense. Currently, the Falcons basically only have a starting free safety that has under-produced the last two years and a very talented, but injury prone strong safety. Shann Schillinger is penciled in the depth chart as a backup for now, but will be in a heavy fight to make the roster. The Falcons chose not to keep James Sanders, at least for now.

This would be a smart pick for several reasons. It would provide immediate competition and insurance for both safety positions. New DC Mike Nolan also reportedly runs sets of 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 and places a high emphasis on safeties who can cover and hit. It’s been a long while since the Falcons added talent in the secondary.

Right Guard

This one’s right up near the top as well, especially considering last year’s experience. The battle should be a good one between former 3rd round pick Mike Johnson, last year’s 7th round pick Andrew Jackson, and newly signed free agent Vince Manuwai. Some include Garrett Reynolds in that battle, but haven’t they already tried that experiment to poor results? After Harvey Dahl left in free agency, the position was a human turnstile with Garrett Reynolds, Mike Johnson (before injury), and Sam Baker all getting starts and subsequently losing the job. It got so bad that they had to bring in Joe Hawley to finish the season, when he had seemingly been drafted to be Todd McClure’s heir at center.

Can Mike Johnson Win the RG Spot? (AJC)

Initially, some(author included) thought taking the best available guard would be a good way to go to shore up the offensive line, infuse talent, and get really good value. As it stands right now, that appears to be very unlikely since there will already be a 3 or 4 way battle for the right guard spot as it stands right now.

Defensive Tackle

Like safety, this position has been gaining steam among fans recently as well. Believe it or not, DL stalwart Jonathan Babineaux will be turning 31 this October. The position has been stabilized somewhat with the improved play and potential of Corey Peters, but this is definitely a position that could use some talent as well. Vance Walker is an excellent rotational DT and Peria Jerry is still seeking for a breakout year after being sidelined with injuries since his rookie season.

With Babineaux’s increasing age and the position being one of the thinnest on the team, this would make a lot of sense as well when the draft rolls around. As Dimitroff proved with Corey Peters, you can get great value in the 3rd rounds with defensive tackles. Due to the thin nature of the defensive tackle spot and Babineaux’s age, defensive tackle is starting to look like a very strong candidate for the draft.

Tight End

This has been the top candidate for the Falcons to take in the draft for quite some time now. In 2009, it was Brandon Pettigrew who many thought would don red and black. Then the trade for Tony Gonzalez killed that. In 2010, some even thought that the Falcons would look to draft Gonzalez’s replacement and shock the world to take Jermaine Gresham. Most fans thought surely that Dimitroff would have to select an heir apparent last year and still not a TE card was pulled.

Is Palmer Being Overlooked @ TE? (AJC)

It’s hard to believe that Dimitroff will elect to pass on tight end for yet another year. He found a good #2 tight end in Michael Palmer through the undrafted free agent route, but you don’t find many excellent tight ends without spending a draft pick on them. However, recent drafts have shown that you can get great value and starting caliber tight ends in the later rounds. The Patriots got Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd round and Aaron Hernandez in the 4th round in the same draft. The Saints took Jimmy Graham in the 3rd round and he has redefined the role of a tight end.

This finally appears the year when Dimitroff will take a tight end pretty high. While not the deepest TE class in history, there are some intriguing prospects that could be had in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. With the news of Tony Gonzalez retiring after this season, it seems like almost a lock that tight end will be taken pretty early. Of course we’ve all come to assume the opposite with Thomas Dimitroff led drafts.

Cornerback

This is a very tricky one. The Falcons could elect to go ahead and draft a cornerback to add to their potential-laden group they already have and perhaps be ready to groom a possible replacement should the contract talks with Brent Grimes go south. However, with the Falcons applying the franchise tag to Brent Grimes, this appears, at least on paper, to be one of the more talented positions on the team. Grimes is coming back for at least one more year and surely Dunta Robinson should benefit from a more aggressive and proven defensive coordinator. Many were comfortable with Dominique Franks taking over if Grimes were to leave and that adds even more depth to the cornerback corps. Chris Owens may find a rebirth with Mike Nolan as DC and Darrin Walls showed major flashes of potential as a rookie.

Although you can never have enough quality cornerbacks, this position seems to a year away from high priority or until the contract talks with Grimes are resolved. Either way, the cornerback groups seems to have as much potential as any position.

Wide Receiver

The top three are set in stone for years to come and that makes many fans very happy. Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas have the potential to be one of the best wide receiver corps in the entire NFL. Dirk Koetter should be licking his chops to make defenses defend all of these options at one time, unlike another coordinator who shall remain nameless.

For the first time in awhile, the final two spots for wide receiver (#4 and #5) are wide open. This is definitely Kerry Meier’s best chance to not only make the roster but get involved in the gameplan. Meier the player has never been questioned, but his first two years in the pros have been marred by injury. Many think that Kevin Cone and / or Drew Davis are ready to make the jump from practice squad to active roster the same way Eric Weems did.

The Falcons surely won’t use a high pick on a wide receiver and may even elect to pick up several WR prospects that go undrafted.

Defensive End

Why Go DE When You Have Sidbury? (AJC)

One of the hottest names to appear on many Falcons draft boards is DE Vinny Curry out of Marshall. As it currently stands, defensive end appears to be one of the lowest priorities for this draft. The Birds are locked in with John Abraham, Ray Edwards, and Kroy Biermann for at least a few more years financially.

Also, many are hoping for big things from Lawrence Sidbury with Nolan taking over as DC and having a knack for maximizing speed rushers (Elvis Dumervil, Cameron Wake). Cliff Matthews showed some excellent flashes as a rookie in limited time in preseason. Unless Nolan decides to move Biermann and / or Sidbury to rush OLB, it seems that defensive end doesn’t appear to be high on the list as the draft approaches.

Running Back

Much like defensive end, running back seems to be pretty much etched in stone for the 2012 season. The Falcons have Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, and potentially Antone Smith as the 4 running backs ready to go. Hopefully, a bigger carry split is in order this year for Turner giving way to Rodgers and Snelling more. When the Falcons brought back Snelling, that basically ended any speculation of going running back in this draft.

The Falcons do need to add more speed to the backfield, but it seems that Antone Smith will get every opportunity to be that guy. Some thought Turner may get traded or cut and the same goes for Ovie Mughelli at fullback. Others thought that Snelling could take over at fullback, thus paving the way for more speed to be added. None of that has happened and there’s no indication it will. We may be having a different conversation a year from now, but running back appears low on the priority list.

Bird Cage Faithful’s Turn

1) What’s the Falcons biggest needs heading to the draft?

2) Should Birds go LT with first pick?

3) Comfortable with only a Svitek v. Baker battle?

4) Can Dent / Tatupu fill Lofton’s void?

5) Would taking a safety be the best route?

6) OK with a Johnson v. Jackson v. Manuwai battle for RG?

7) Can Falcons pass on tight end for another draft?

8.) Should cornerback, defensive end, or running back be a higher priority?

416 comments Add your comment

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:34 am

Lots of questions, but CB/S/LB hybred would be the best use at 55 in my opinion

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:36 am

1) What’s the Falcons biggest needs heading to the draft?

Lines, both sides of the ball, and NCB. Need to train McClure’s replacement, and fill the void from Mike. S backup, and maybe a fresh QB trainee for the practice equad

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:38 am

2) Should Birds go LT with first pick?

No, not the value that we need for our first pick. LT DT and DE could well be picked over, like the last two tomatos left in the bin at the farmers market at the end of the day (selling at full price).

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:39 am

3) Comfortable with only a Svitek v. Baker battle?

Not even a little, but options are limited.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:41 am

4) Can Dent / Tatupu fill Lofton’s void?

Hope so. A 3rd round pick that had a year to learn the system, and a former pro bowler (Peterson 2.0) are what we have. Could be a new pro bowler in the making (Dent), but only one way to find out.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:43 am

5) Would taking a safety be the best route?

Possible, but Moore/Decoud are serviceable if healthy. I am leaning towards a big backup for both that can also play CB and LB. Versatility, allowing Nolan to respond to mismatches thrown at him.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:44 am

6) OK with a Johnson v. Jackson v. Manuwai battle for RG?

I would like to throw a draft pick into that mix, the Reynolds/Johnson experiment last year wound up with Hawley playing G – and we may need him at C.

D3

April 1st, 2012
10:45 am

F3 — Good points. Mind you, this is not necessarily what I think they “should” do, but rather what I think they will do. I totally agree on LT and DT. If we could get our hands on either Zebrie Sanders for LT or Brandon Thompson for DT, I would be ecstatic, but outside that I completely agree.

In terms of pure value, you’re right on. I think TE, S, OC, RB, or OG would be the best value, but I don’t see them addressing guard, center, or running back early on. I would love for them to, but I don’t see it. I thought all along that getting OC or OG would be the best pick, but I think they feel very comfortable with what they’ve done (even though most of us disagree). I can go along with them on the competition for RG and OC, but I absolutely can’t for just letting Baker and Svitek battle it out. Bad idea.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:47 am

7) Can Falcons pass on tight end for another draft?

Yep, I think TD voted on this one already with 7 mill of Mr. Blank’s money – and squeezed himself cap wise. That 7 mil allows him to wait a year on a potential stud TE, but a mid round ick this year that may blossom under coaching could be possible.

D3

April 1st, 2012
10:49 am

RE: CB — I’m going to gave to disagree with most of you on this one. I think that CB as it stands now is one of our biggest strengths. Completely comfortable with Grimes, D-Rob, Franks, Owens, and Walls. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to get our hands on Brandon Boykin, but I just don’t see that as a big need right now. Why not see what we have with Franks, Owens, and Walls under Nolan before adding another CB to the mix? I like the idea of taking a safety, but not a CB.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:51 am

D3 – Nice article, by the way, gets the juices flowing.

Based on who they have on the roster already, I suspect a pick for a developmental C (Hawley was a late pick) and a mid rounder on a developmental T/G for Hill to work with are what we may see.

Regards Sanders, I see the logic but we could likely get a similar T/G in the 3rd that is compatible with Sanders in th e2nd. Now, if Sanders slips to the 3rd, I go with him.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
10:56 am

8.) Should cornerback, defensive end, or running back be a higher priority?

I think Cornerback, NCB. We have a new Mike and who knows what will happen there, and a pass happy multi receiver league (remember June Jones Chuck and Duck??). We need to be able to beat Manning/Brees/Rogers/ect. in a playoff game, and as designed at the moment we can’t.

DE we just invested long term in Abe, Bierbann, and Edwards, so do you put your highest pick into someone that is 4th DE at best in a line that may play 3-4 from time to time under Nolan? Now, DT is a realistic possibility.

RB, I think Fullback is a possibility, actually. We got Quizz last year, re-upped Snelling, and Turner is still a 1000+ yeard plugger.

D3

April 1st, 2012
10:58 am

May have to rethink my position of looking at S early. This appears to be one of the weakest positions in the entire draft. Only one prospect (Mark Barron) is considered to be 1st round worthy and even he has battled injuries. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m striking off FS and SS (at least for now) off the list of early candidates. See for yourself………….

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2012/SS

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2012/FS

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
11:08 am

“RE: CB — I’m going to gave to disagree with most of you on this one. I think that CB as it stands now is one of our biggest strengths”. D3

Go for it, disagreements make this stuff fun, make us think.

I disagree this is a strength. I agree it is an area of significant investment on the roster, but that may indicate that TD keeps trying to fix a problem.

I suggest this IS a problem. On all those 3rd and 6, 7, 8 or whatever teams have been converting on the past couple years, how many were passes? I don’t really know a number, but just based on recollection it seemed to be a lot!

Now, without looking it up, where did we rank on:
1) Pass D
2) Run D
3) Pass O
4) Run O

If you look at the rankings, which is the weakest area. I seem to recall seeing somewhere that Pass D came in last.

So, while CB may be a heavily invested area for the Falcons, it isn’t the tam strength. Why?
I suspect Lofton was a liability in the middle, and we were weak at NCB position. I suggest in this league, with the best QB’s, that NCB is a 12th starter as far as importance in getting the D off the field goes.

If we want to improve the weakest of those 4 objective rankings (and yeah, I know, stats can be twisted/misleading sometimes but this is a performance based comparison to other teams), if we want to advance in the playoffs (and yeah, I now we only scored 2 points last time even so–) We need to improve pass D, especially in nickel packages.

Hence, my disagreement that CB is a stronger area on the team. Expensive, yes, strong (compared to the rest of the league) , no – based on the fact that today’s NFL uses more than 2 CB’s.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
11:16 am

I am thinking FS in the 2nd, and he is rated 1st on your list – George Iloka. He is 6′4″, also plays SS, CB and is also projected as LB.

One player, helps to respond to mismatches, backup for Moore if/when he is hurt, and would presumably be an investment of our top pick this year in improving that pass D rating for 2012.

We don’t have a first, so that may force a refocus on what is realistic in the 2nd. My proposed pick provides immediate value, and gives the top rated FA at a position where we need support sometimes (BPA concerns satisfied) AND flexibility in what Nolan can roll out there.

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
11:33 am

The biggest need for the Falcons is DT, if you have no playmakers up the middle then your ends become double team more, Plus there is a lack of depth at DT Perry, Walker wil not get it done, and plus Peters have not showed me anything to be disruptive up the middle.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

just me

April 1st, 2012
11:37 am

F3 I don’t think Iloka will be there when we pick in the second. I would like to see us pick-up a FS. I like both Tremane Thomas-Ark, and Brandon Hardin Ore St as late rounder developmental players.

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
11:38 am

Falcons must get stronger up front in the middle if this defense plan on getting better.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
11:44 am

Why TD not sign 2 of the most important players on this team, when it come to quality depth at DB.

Hayden and Sanders had very important role to the Falcons.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ATLJBO

April 1st, 2012
12:13 pm

I think CB, Hybrid LB, or DT…. ill start with CB… If you watch Mike Nolan’s blitzing scheme… They bring the heat and get to the QB but you need guys that can cover for a certain amount of time… I feel like Grimes and Robinson have their position on lock…. Its the NB position (That plays around #60 of the snaps is the problem) … I actually think Owens played really well at the end of the season and in the playoff game…. I think Franks has some potential to go along with Walls…. The problem is all 3 of them seem to play better on the island (on the outside) .. We need to bring in a guy that could play some NB… A guy like Brandon Boykins played some NB in college.. Also… If we could find a guy (Im thinking Trumaine Johnson) who could play NB/S … We could get creative with William Moore (Line him up as a LB on some pass downs) .

Trumaine Johnson fits that big CB mold Coach Nolan had in Sean Smith (Who he used to cover the big TE’s some of the time.. Even lined him up in Safety a couple of time)

Its going to be interesting to see what happens.

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
12:17 pm

Jerel Worthy might just slipp right into our hands at pick #55.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

uga_b

April 1st, 2012
12:21 pm

Last draft I advocated for a S or RB upgrade because I like to get better at least somewhere in the starting 25. This year I think the same logic could apply to S (again), OLB, and DT on that side of the ball. Offensively, I think it is just RB. FB you can get as a UDFA. Tight Ends can be found very late.

Basically, no QB/WR/TE is going to crack the starting lineup. Round 2 is the interior line portion of the draft but we have a lot competing there. On defense, we are set at MLB it appears; stuck at CB; similarly stuck at S; same with DE; and seem set at DL (for this year).

So, the personnel I think you could replace are: Turner, Ovie, RG, Babs*, Nicholas, NCB, and S (Decoud/Moore injury). *I don’t see Babs being replaced this year but next year is a solid opportunity.

What this means is that Dimitroff will trade our 2nd to get back a fourth and select a Kicker in the Third, a QB in the 4th, some ST OLB (Adkins/James), an undersized DE, and a CB that will be out of the league in 2 years.

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
12:23 pm

Ray, Bab, Worthy, AB

Matthews is my sleeper this year, but Nolan must really do his home work on this guy to see the potential he can bring to the table.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!

ATLJBO

April 1st, 2012
12:29 pm

At the Hybrid OLB position… For the last Couple of years TD seem to be lokking for that guy but he goes before we plan on drafting him… In Arthur Moats draft journal a couple years ago.. He said the falcons called him to say we were going to draft him but the bills took him with the next pick and in The war room (That featured TD) … It sound like we was going to draft Justin Houston but TD’s boy Scott Pioli drafted him.

It has been reports that the Falcons are very high on (1st-2nd round guy) Shea McClellin (I really like Shea… Dude can literally line up every where and rush) and (Mid-Late round guy) Tim Fugger

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
12:38 pm

“I think CB, Hybrid LB, or DT…. ill start with CB… If you watch Mike Nolan’s blitzing scheme… They bring the heat and get to the QB but you need guys that can cover for a certain amount of time…” – ATLJBO

I can’t disagree with the thinking. I have been looking at Lavonte David – Nebraska and Mychal Kendriks – Cal as possibilities for a LB hybrid. M. Kendriks has freakish size and speed and seems to be a proven blitzer. I don’t like P Blakes age and B. Jones will be solid but never elite so while C makes the most sense team wise I am still scouring the draft for a great value score. I need to do film work on M. Kendriks but i like what I’ve read so far.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
12:47 pm

“What this means is that Dimitroff will trade our 2nd to get back a fourth and select a Kicker in the Third, a QB in the 4th, some ST OLB (Adkins/James), an undersized DE, and a CB that will be out of the league in 2 years.” uga_b

Love it, we really have no idea (I don’t anyway) of what they are thinking at the branch.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
12:49 pm

ATLJBO – Shea McClellin looks interesting, but don’t we already have that in Biermann (who we just re-upped for 3 yrs or so if I remember).

Joshua Malavenda

April 1st, 2012
12:50 pm

If we are looking for a hybrid lb/cb/s type I would go with Audie Cole. He speciality is his coverage skills and he is 6-4 246lbs. He has played all the lb postions and would be great in nolans new defensive scheme.
Audie Coles scouting report:
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1272213/audie-cole

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
12:54 pm

“If we are looking for a hybrid lb/cb/s type I would go with Audie Cole” – JM

He is an ILB and runs in the 4.8 – 4.9 range. He will not be able to man up for long against anyone with speed which discounts him in my book but I guess he could work in certain zone arraingements.
He is on the radar but I think there are much better candidates…once more need film time to study his strengths.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
12:56 pm

ATLJBO, hit enter before I finished–

Trumaine Johnson is someone that would fit the bill as well, fit in with Biermann, Schillinger, etc. I am just thinking NCB that can sub in both S positions, and even cheat up some. He is faster than Iloka, but Iloka is bigger and could even become a LB if we shift into 3-4 for a confusing look (or Biermann could drop back, or whatever.

I fully agree that NCB is an area that we could fix some problems with at 55, hopefully that gives us the best return for the pick. So, TD will read this and pick a long snapper at 55 :-)

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
12:58 pm

“Love it, we really have no idea (I don’t anyway) of what they are thinking at the branch.” – F3

The lack of forward thinking has gotten us into a bit of a mess lol. I’m not so far seeing any easy solutions unless TD wises up and gets busy in FA in regards to the line. The talk is they won’t be doing that so who knows.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
1:06 pm

just me – you may well be right that Iloka will be gone, but looking around he generally seems to be slotted round 2-3.

This site has three mocks at 3, and one to the Pats in the 2nd,
http://www.nfldraft101.com/draft/profiles/player/204650/George_Iloka.jsp

3rd or 4th here:
http://www.fantasyfootballjungle.com/article/1651/2012_NFL_Draft_Rankings_81-100/

3rd round here:
http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?prospect_id=2965

He does have some holes in his game, but hopefully he can be coached up. Best you can do at 55.

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
1:06 pm

A lil taste of M. Kendriks ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA3_XaOOIiA )

He runs in the sub 4.5 range and has been clocked under 4.4….at 240 pounds lol. He is my current hybrid LB horse but more recon needs to be done. He is not under the radar after his combine performance for sure.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

Screen Pass – totally agree on the line being a real problem, I just don’t see relief in the 2nd. The mock I pulled together does have a LT/RT/G in the 3rd, and a C/G in the 7th though. Give Hill some new clay to mold.

Joshua Malavenda

April 1st, 2012
1:12 pm

Sp- Kendricks is a great pick and he wowed in the combine with his 40 time but he isnt that great in coverage

JAE08

April 1st, 2012
1:17 pm

I you want to talk Value. The second pick should be Jared Crick, DE,
Nebraska:
Entering the 2011 season, Crick was thought to be a first-round caliber player, but a torn pectoral muscle in October put those projections in doubt. Plays mean and aggressive. Would be in the DT and DE rotations right away.

Same Draft philosophy when they drafted William Moore.

JAE08

April 1st, 2012
1:18 pm

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
1:20 pm

“Screen Pass – totally agree on the line being a real problem, I just don’t see relief in the 2nd. The mock I pulled together does have a LT/RT/G in the 3rd, and a C/G in the 7th though. Give Hill some new clay to mold.” – F3

It is definitely a tough call. Taking Blake or Jones in the 2nd is too early but they will prolly be gone by our 3rd so unless we trade down we are scoobied in optimal value but get a great need. P Blake can anchor which we need desperately and could be good to go in under a year but is already 26…sigh. B. Jones is ok but not impressive…should be ready in year and can take on bulk in future years. I’m not high on either to be honest but they fill a need.

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
1:24 pm

“Sp- Kendricks is a great pick and he wowed in the combine with his 40 time but he isnt that great in coverage” – JM

I understand the “workout warrior” tag but that is what coaching is for lol. Getting sub 4.4 speed in a 240 frame is unreal and has to be looked at :) .

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

TLS

April 1st, 2012
1:56 pm

I couldn’t disagree much more with the article. I rate the top needs as
1) rush DE
2) left tackle
3) cornerback
4) TE.
DT and safety don’t even make the list. And I doubt we could pick up an immediate starter at LT with a late second round pick. I would pick the best DE or corner available in round 2, where many mocks show Curry and Brandon Boykin both being available. You can never have enough corners, where your nickel is basically a starter, and I’m still skeptical about Franks/Owens. Then best available TE in round 3, and try to get depth at other positions (including possibly safety) in later rounds. I think it is imperative to fill LT need through free agency, even if it means cutting Baker and/or Mughelli. I think Dent is a decided downgrade from Lofton but nonetheless a solid option at MLB. Ex-Bulldogs, especially linebackers, tend to overachieve in NFL. I think Manawai should be an upgrade (faint praise) from last year at RG.

Big Lou

April 1st, 2012
2:22 pm

I think the cage needs to get over the notion of drafting a decent LT (maybe after being coached a year or so). They might pick one up in FA, though.

The needs (IMO) of the draft are as follows:

1.) TE (TG probably will retire after this year)
2.) DB ‘Hybrid’ for Mike Nolan’s Scheme
3.) DT

The rest will most likely be filler positions for the o-line, safety, special teams, and LB.

I’m comfortable with ATL’s defensive ends due to the fact Mike Nolan will get great pressure on the QB on the multiple packages he’ll throw at offensive oppositions. It will be hard to double John Abraham with the possibility of LB, C, or the safety blitzing on third and long.

A decent DT could help the overall push up the middle for the d-line, which was the real issue on the defensive side of the ball. Let’s hope that Mike Nolan can coach the raw talent the Falcons already have.

The TE is the most needed, since a good pickup can be taught by one of the best. It could also make TG more effective if he had rest on some plays, allowing the newbie to get some snaps.

I agree with all the talk on the hybrid C/LB pick, since Mike Nolan thinks 5 DBs will be used more often; I expect more nickle packages from the Falcons this year.

bobby

April 1st, 2012
3:06 pm

the falcons need darn near a upgrade at every position but don’t have enough picks to address and with thomas d drafting it really a sad thing.

ATLJBO

April 1st, 2012
3:08 pm

@Screen Pass
Mychal Kendriks is more of a 4-3 LB/3-4 ILB…. Not really the hybrid OLB/DE… I do think dude has freakish speed… I would want us to draft him if we didnt just draft Dent.

@Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)
Dont worry.. I hit enter to early also..lol…. But year Shea McClellin is a little different then Kroy because he is a little more explosive and athletic … Ive seen Shea cover guys as a LB… Ive seen him rush as a DE, OLB, and ILB…. You can line him up every where and be creative

uga_b

April 1st, 2012
3:10 pm

We currently don’t have a true heavy Nickel package unless you run D-Rob as a free and bring down Moore. Safety depth is a real concern. I think we have enough talent at CB to compete. It looks as if our DE rotation is more or less set, but the DT depth seems contingent on Jerry functioning as a rotational player. Adkins played well but I still see us needing to add another body there. I don’t love it but it seems our Defense is more or less set. On offense, we tried adding another explosive offensive weapon a la TE last year.

The trends under TD have been ignoring the outside of the lines and throwing bodies at the interior. Our RB has been overutilized the last three years when he was younger. This has resulted in 42 yards per playoff games. I would love an outside the box RB pickup, but I also think a true 4th WR like the Saints and GB could help us on that front. Yes a dynamic 2 TE set would be great but NE used it more to mask the lack of a true number 1. We have the WR core to make it a luxury.

Where we are sitting, I really have no idea which direction we go so I am assuming BPA.

Chris

April 1st, 2012
3:21 pm

It always seemed that Lawyer Malloy was there when we needed a safety blitz or a tfl. That nb/lb/s guy is a need imo for Nolan. Give him an athletic freak to move around and terrorize qbs with. I also would like to see a nt type at some point. Someone in the mold of Grady Jackson. We got to have that big double team eater to make any 3-4 sets effective, I’m just not aware of anyone this year to fit that bill.

Screen Pass

April 1st, 2012
3:24 pm

“Mychal Kendriks is more of a 4-3 LB/3-4 ILB…. Not really the hybrid OLB/DE… I do think dude has freakish speed… I would want us to draft him if we didnt just draft Dent.” – ATLJBO

While Cal used him in the interior capacity most often from the film I’ve watched, that is not where he would be used primarily in the set up I’m referring to. He can cover the interior which will add to his interchangable value immensely over a smaller DB conversion but his speed and blitzing means he would line up interchangable with Spoon to the left or right on the outside in a 3-4 hybrid to blitz or bump/ cover edge/ flats. 4.8 speed won’t work so hot in that capacity against Sproles type players but he certainly will. In a 425 arraingement that speed will come in handy against TE and some slot guys…it would depend on matchups at that point. He will more than likely need time to be taught mirror technique for coverage but thgat is the drawback when selecting a LB instead of a DB hybrid. I like what I’ve seen so far but highly doubt he will be around when we pick…he has way too much upside.

darrell starks

April 1st, 2012
3:24 pm

D3

DT IS THE NUMBER 1 PRIORITY.

MY LIST

1. Jerel Worthy 6′2 310pounds and has playmaking ability up front.

2. Billy Winn 6′4 295pounds could play some DT and DE very strong with a good motor.

3. Vinny Curry 6′3 266pounds would be a steal for the Falcons but we just sign AB, now here is the head banger you could rotate him and slide Ray inside at DT sometime.

4. Brandon Thompson 6′2 315pounds a solid DT that could fit right in and only control the line for LB to make plays.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris

April 1st, 2012
3:30 pm

Also, love all the links. Makes it so much easier when everyone does the leg work together.

TRIGG

April 1st, 2012
3:30 pm

Can some of you that seem to think that we need a DE so bad, tell me what are we suppose to do with Sidbury who played pretty well when giving the opportunity, also Matthews didnt look to bad either.