When will Atlanta Falcons Go DT and DE in the Draft?

A Look at Some D-Line Prospects

Been a Long Time Since Kerney (AJC)

The Atlanta Falcons have long suffered on defense and many believe the main culprit to be a weak defensive line. That’s a pretty tough argument to undercut since the pass rush has consisted of John Abraham, John Abraham, and the occasional Jonathan Babineaux. They have rotated, brought in, semi-developed, and drafted players to no avail. The lone high draft pick in the Smith / Dimitroff Era was Peria Jerry and that’s a microcosm for the past five years: supposedly loaded with potential, but actual production is nil.

The Cage Logo Returns!

It’s a pretty damning statement when the only two successful defensive linemen (at least consistently) were holdovers from the previous regime. Sure, there’s been spurts and flashes here and there, but surely nothing to write home about. Meanwhile, teams in the Falcons own backyard are finding ways to develop pass rushers. Former Bucs DE Michael Bennett was an undrafted free agent who notched 10 sacks and 6th round pick Greg Hardy pulled down 11 sacks in 2012. That’s almost triple (yes, triple) the amount of sacks that any Falcon not named Abraham or Babineaux have pulled down the last five years. It’s hard to imagine the Falcons not taking defensive end, defensive tackle, or both several times in the draft. A look at some of the later round candidates:

Special Thanks to:

cbsdraftscout.com

draftcountdown.com

drafttek.com

nfl.com

Defensive Tackle

DT seems to be one of the deepest positions in the entire draft this year. While there’s plenty of top-tier talent like Shariff Floyd and Sheldon Richardson to go along with a glut of late first round prospects such as Jonathan Hankins, Jesse Williams, Kawaan Short, and John Jenkins, there’s also a plethora of later round candidates that have some promise.

In fact, a very rough assessment of strength by position reveals that defensive tackle is arguably the strongest position from top to bottom

2nd – 3rd Round

Brandon Williams

Missouri Southern St. – 6’1 – 335 – Bench: 38 – Forty: 5.37 – Arms: 32 ⅝ – Hands: 9 ⅜

Career: 42 games – 191 tackles – 52.5 TFL – 25.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 2 – 3

Coleman a Pro Bowler (AJC)

Williams is one of the most intriguing DT prospects out there. He absolutely dominated with an insane amount of tackles for loss and sacks, but it was all done in Division II, where he was a three time All-American. Most scouts have automatically dropped him down the boards due to his inferior competition. Many question his level of competition and strength and quickness when paired off with the best, but production is production, especially the ridiculous amount he had. Would be a great addition moving to the 3-4, but may not fit due to his inability to play in the 4-3. Someone will take a chance on him earlier than many predict.

Sylvester Williams

North Carolina – 6’3 – 313 – Bench: 27 – Forty: 5.03 – Arms: 33 ½ – Hands: 10 ¾

Games: 25 – 96 Tackles – 20.5 TFL – 8.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 1 – 3

Williams is one of the most unpredictable candidates in the entire draft. Some have him slotted to go in the first round and other experts have him going as late as the 3rd. He had a large amount of production at North Carolina, but seems limited to a 4-3 scheme. Has all the tools to be a dominant DT, but entirely too inconsistent for scouts taste and would disappear for large stretches at a time.

Akeem Spence

Illinois – 6’1 – 307 – Bench: 37 – Forty: 5.15 – Arms: 33 ½ – Hands: 10

Games: 38 – 138 tackles – 16.5 TFL – 3.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 3-4

Spence is a superb run defender and has been compared to Bears DT Stephen Paea. He surely doesn’t have the best pass rushing stats, but he is big, strong (37 Bench), and will provide a strong interior presence for a 4-3 team and could be a good fit for the Falcons if they pass on a DT earlier.

4th – 5th Round

Bennie Logan

LSU – 6’2 – 309 – Bench: 30 – Forty: DNP – Arms: 32 ⅜ – Hands: 9 ¾

Games: 30 – 107 tackles – 12.5 TFL – 5 sacks – Projected Rd: 4

Like Spence, Logan is a great run-stuffing DT, but will need some serious work on his pass-rushing ability to develop into a 3 down defensive lineman. Represents a good amount of value in the later rounds.

Montori Hughes

Tennessee-Martin – 6’4 – 329 – Bench: 22 – Forty: 5.22 – Arms: 32 ⅜ – Hands: 10 ⅛

Games: 47 – 109 tackles – 24 TFL – 7 sacks – Projected Rd: 4-5

Hughes is one of the more intriguing DT prospects later in the draft, particularly for 3-4 defensive teams. He has a big frame and is the prototypical size for a 3-4 nose tackle. He represents a great project with a lot of potential after the early run on big-bodied DT’s early in the draft. Started at the University of Tennessee, but was dismissed for non-football reasons before moving to Tenn-Martin. Likley out of contention for Falcons with black dot system.

TJ Barnes

Georgia Tech – 6’6 – 369 – Bench: 25 – Forty: 5.3 – Arms: 34 ⅞ – Hands: 10 ¾

Games: 53 – 75 tackles – 8.5 TFL – 2.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 5

Smith and Co. Inherited Babs (AJC)

The local high school and Georgia Tech product is a mountain of a man. At 6’6, 369 lbs he seems to be an immovable force. He obviously is pure space eater and will look to exclusively absorb double-teams, but Barnes is surprisingly quick for a huge NT. Also notched decent pass-rushing numbers for being so big. Like Hughes, some 3-4 team will take a chance on him earlier than some think. Fitness will obviously be the biggest hurdle.

6th – 7th Round

Kwame Geathers

Georgia – 6’5 – 342 – Bench: DNP – Forty: 5.44 – Arms: 35 ¼ – Hands: 9 ½

Games: 34 – 61 tackles – 6.5 TFL – 1 sacks – Projected Rd: 5-6

Even though overshadowed by his more famous DT teammate John Jenkins, Geathers has plenty of talent on his own. A good NT candidate was a junior college transfer to the Bulldogs and helped to form a big and powerful DT combo with Jenkins. Would likely have benefitted from returning for another year, but likely decided to make the leap with all the other talent leaving. Probably hurt his stock by not doing the bench. Like Hughes and Barnes, Geathers provides another good project in a deep DT class.

Josh Boyd

Mississippi State – 6’3 – 310 – Bench: 32 – Forty: 5.14 – Arms: 32 – Arms: 9 ¼

Games: 51 – 125 tackles – 18 TFL – 8.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 6

Perhaps no other candidate is as overlooked in a deep DT class than Boyd. He has extremely good measurables and really good production in the rough and tumble SEC. He has good pass-rushing statistics and it’s surprising he isn’t slotted earlier than he is. Plays too high at times and plays down to his competition sometimes, but that’s not really uncommon of most prospects. Someone will get a great prospect perhaps due to it being such a deep class.

Chris Jones

Bowling Green – 6’2 – 302 – Bench: 30 – Forty: 5.33 – Arms: 32 ¾ – Hands: 9

Games: 50 – 157 tackles – 46.5 TFL – 28 sacks – Projected Rd: 7 – UDFA

Jones Might Surprise (AJC)

Most will either discard or overlook Jones and he is slotted to go really late in the draft or maybe not drafted at all. But it’s impossible for scouts and teams to gloss over his massive production. Almost 50 tackles for loss and almost 30 career sacks deserves a second look. Played at Bowling Green and his physical skills won’t blow you away, but some prospects are simply “football players” and he seems to be one.

Abry Jones

Georgia – 6’4 – 313

Jones will probably be venturing into the very late round or likely being undrafted, Jones may be a good player to take a chance on. Jones was somewhat lost in the shuffle in a move from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Like Geathers, heavily overshadowed by the more famous UGA defenders, but Jones is extremely versatile being able to play all positions along the defensive front and may project to be a superb role player and maybe more.

Other Notable DT Candidates

Jordan Hill – Penn State

Everette Dawkins – Florida State

Cory Grissom – South Florida

Jared Smith – New Hampshire

Defensive End

Defensive end has to be one of the most difficult positions to assess on the entire football field, at least for fans. Unlike other positions, there really seems to be no one certain way or one certain round to take defensive ends and have them be successful. The Bucs got 10 sacks from an undrafted free agent, but the Falcons had a huge bust with the #8 overall pick back in 2007. If you take one early, you may get the next JJ Watt, Jason Pierre-Paul, or Ryan Kerrigan. Or you could get the next Jerry Hughes, Vernon Gholston, or Derrick Morgan.

Humphrey and Zook would be Nice Additions (AJC)

Even though most will focus on the first round and the likes of Dion Jordan, Ezekial Ansah, Bjoern Werner, Datone Jones, and Damontre Moore, there is a ton of talent sprinkled throughout the other rounds. Next to DT, defensive end is one of the deepest positions in the draft, which is good for the Falcons.

2nd Round

Sam Montgomery

LSU – 6’3 – 262 – Bench: DNP – Forty: 4.81 – Arms: 33 ⅜ – Hands: 9 ¼

Games: 32 – 104 tackles – 32.5 TFL – 8 sacks – Projected Rd: 1-2

Many had Montgomery sneaking into the 1st round early on, but after some pretty stupid comments admitting to not giving full effort when playing inferior opponents, even betting with his teammates about it, it likely knocked him out of the first round completely. Some may regard his potential as worth a chance, but his paltry production will scare most away. The black system will probably filter Montgomery out of Falcons possibility.

Cornelius Carradine

Florida State – 6’4 – 276 – Bench: 28 – Forty: DNP – Arms: 34 ¾ – Hands: 10 ¼

Games: 25 – 118 tackles – 21 TFL – 16.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 1-2

Also known as Tank, the former Seminole has all the potential and even production to warrant an early pick. He excellent speed, size, and quickness. He pulled down 16 sacks in only 25 games. The problem is all about Carradine’s injury and the poor timing of it. He tore his ACL in November and some believe that he’s worth the risk, but all many Falcons fans can think of is Peria Jerry, and he wasn’t even injured during his final college season. Carradine is a quintessential high risk / high reward candidate for a team that takes him early.

3rd – 4th Round

John Simon

Ohio State – 6’1 – 257 – Bench: DNP – Forty: DNP – Arms: 33 ¼ – Hands: 9 ½

Games: 50 – 155 tackles – 43 TFL – 19.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 3 – 4

Reason #1a to Avoid 1st Rd DE's (AJC)

Simon won’t blow anyone away with his physical skill set and probably hurt his stock by not participating in either the bench or the forty. Some even project him as a possible OLB candidate at the next level due to his smaller size, but he is extremely bulked up. Had very good stats and showed a great ability to get in the backfield to disrupt. Has an excellent motor that never quits and a great attitude.

Malliciah Goodman

Clemson – 6’4 – 276 – Bench: 26 – Forty: 4.78 – Arms: 36 ⅜ – Hands: 11

Games: 54 – 136 tackles – 23.5 TFL – 12.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 3

Goodman is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft. He has superb measurables, great size, very good speed, and some of the longest arms and biggest hands in the DE class. Described as the “meanest guy on the field” sometimes, but disappears others which describes his lack of major production. A very interesting candidate that may be worth a shot, especially if he can become more consistent.

Devin Taylor

South Carolina – 6’7 – 266 – Bench: 14 – Forty: 4.72 – Arms: 36 – Hands: 10 ⅜

Games: 62 – 161 tackles – 35.5 TFL – 18.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 3-4

Like Goodman, Taylor seems to have all the skills needed to be a boom at the next level. An extremely tall, quick, and fast defensive end, Taylor has also has some really good production and played in every single game in the SEC since enrolling as a freshman. The former gamecock seems to have one of the highest ceilings of any DE prospect and even added some really good production. The only fear is the “Ray Edwards Factor,” which is whether or not Taylor simply benefitted from having arguably the most dominant defensive player in college football on the other side in David Clowney. Also had a really poor showing on the bench, pushing up only 14 times.

Lavar Edwards

LSU – 6’4 – 277 – Bench: DNP – Forty: 4.8 – Arms: 35 ½ – Hands: 10

Games: 52 – 96 tackles – 20 TFL – 10 sacks – Projected Rd: 4 – 5

Edwards is similar to Taylor and Goodman without the production. Has good size and decent speed, but has had pretty low production over his entire career, pulling down only 10 total sacks and not many more tackles for loss.

5th – 6th Round

William Gholston

Michigan State – 6’6 – 281 – Bench: 23 – Forty: 4.96 – Arms: 34 – Hands: 10 ⅜

Games: 36 – 142 tackles – 30 TFL – 10 sacks – Projected Rd: 4-6

Reason #1 to Avoid Early DE's (AJC)

The cousin of former first round bust Vernon Gholston is an interesting dichotomy of a candidate. On one hand he has great measurables, but on the other hand he had a very slow forty time and pretty average production. Some sites are slotting him in the 4th, but others are putting him lower. Doesn’t seem to have a very high ceiling.

David Bass

Missouri Western St. – 6’4 – 262 – Bench: 20 – Forty: 4.84 – Arms: 33 ½ – Hands: 10 ½

Games: 50 – 210 tackles – 57 TFL – 39.5 sacks – Projected Rd: 5 – 6

Like several other small school candidates, most will be quick to dismiss his production only as a product of weak competition. That may be true, but looking at Bass’ fantastic numbers, he’s simply impossible to discard. He leads all defensive end prospects in tackles (210), sacks (39.5), and tackles for loss (57). Don’t be surprised to see a team take him well before his projected round territory.

Other Notable DE Candidates:

Michael Buchanan – Illinois

Stansly Maponga – TCU

Joe Kruger – Utah

Armonty Bryant – East Central

Certain candidates such as Corey Lemonier, Brandon Jenkins, and Trevardo Williams will be detailed in OLB post.

The Cage Scout’s Turn

1) When should the Falcons go defensive tackle?

2) What DT prospects should they zero in on?

3) What players will they zero in?

4) Are any candidates worth trading up to get?

5) Should the Falcons take more than one DT?

6) When should the Falcons go defensive end?

7) What prospects should the Falcons target and draft?

8.) Which players will they zero in?

9) Should the Falcons take more than one DE?

472 comments Add your comment

JJ

April 10th, 2013
4:03 pm

Brandon Williams in rd 2.

The Time is NOW

April 10th, 2013
4:10 pm

Enter your comments here

CED

April 10th, 2013
4:22 pm

Ok the Falcons either need to sign Abraham back or sign a FA CB with experience …. Then if you get Abraham you draft a CB ….. If you sign a FA CB then draft a DE …. simple

Mr. Surg

April 10th, 2013
5:11 pm

Our first pick needs to be Kawann Short…He’s been sliding down draft boards, but he’s a top 10-15 talent. People keep saying “DB DB!!”. The defensive line was THE MAIN reason we lost against the 49ers. Kroy can’t finish plays, we can’t get any push up the middle, Osi was always a liability in run support, not to mention Osi, along with Babs are both up there in age. Get Kawann first, then get one of the UBER talented DB’s in the second like Johnathan Banks or David Amerson.

NO FREAKIN DB…Trufant doens’t even have the ball skills to be a first-round pick.

Mr. Surg

April 10th, 2013
5:14 pm

In a dream world I see Atlanta trading with the Rams for their 16th pick and drafting Jarvis Jones…Crazy thing is, doing that will probably make Kawann Short fall to the second round and if we can snag him too? Oh my goodness. The 2013 Draft is going to be crazy man.

waynester

April 10th, 2013
6:18 pm

If we don’t take one of the early DTs then I’d double up on the late rounders from UGA and Tech and probably grab a couple UDFAs also. Critical position for our defense. DE–Outside a handful of guys I don’t like this DE class….

Firsttimer

April 10th, 2013
6:49 pm

If they remain at no. 30, take best avilable d-lineman on the board. Simple.

D3

April 10th, 2013
7:10 pm

Wednesday Greetings Cagers! — Full on draft mode now boys and gals!!!!! The older I get, the more excited I get to watch the Masters. Really, it’s kind of like Nascar where they have their Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. Sure, I like the US Open and British Open, but they pale in comparison. Always out on spring break to boot!

So here’s some preliminary results from my spreadsheet………….

—-keep in mind that this is just my own compilation of very amateur research—–

General Strength by Position — Defined by overall, top-to-bottom strength of position in the draft. From 1st round all the way through undrafted free agents (only included those invited to the combine).

Strongest to Weakest
1) DT
2) DE
3) CB
4) OLB
5) T
6) WR
7) S
8.) C
9) ILB
10) TE
11) RB
12) G

First of all, this really is a fantastic draft to build the key positions we need through the draft (could TD really have known that well in advance of releasing all those key older vets? :grin: ). The ones we need the biggest help with are the deepest positions of the draft. Obviously, it varies from round to round, but overall it’s a great move.

Also, the signing of Steven Jackson looks a lot better as well. Not only does it allow us to build defense and pass on RB (at least early), but we can be selective throughout the draft and not be forced to a pick.

Could the release of Clabo been right on target as well, since it’s by far the strongest position on the line? I could definitely see us taking a project OT at some point (maybe towards the end). Guard, on the other hand, is the weakest of ALL positions. After Warmack, Cooper, and Warford, it’s a terrible OG class. We could take a few UDFA’s, but still sticking with Reynolds, Johnson, Gunn, McClendon, Manley, or even Konz (if Hawley takes over OC). Doubt we take a center either. If Konz is definitely locked in at RG instead of OC, than maybe, but still doubtful.

John Waynesworld

April 10th, 2013
7:11 pm

Fantastic stuff D3. The defensive trenches need to be addressed but not in haste as we have learned (and as you noted) from basing decisions on one year’s production or ignoring injury history.

1) When should the Falcons go defensive tackle? Round 3 or 4.

2) What DT prospects should they zero in on? A big body with a good record of health.

3) What players will they zero in? Heavy ones. Any top ranked D Lineman that weighs at least 320 pounds at the bottom of the 3rd or 4th round will do perfectly.

4) Are any candidates worth trading up to get? No.

5) Should the Falcons take more than one DT? No. Maybe take a look at the UDFA class.

6) When should the Falcons go defensive end? Round 3 or 4. Either go DE-DL or DL-DE.

7) What prospects should the Falcons target and draft? And give away my mock obsession?? BWAHAHAHAHA Seriously, all the big names we have discussed are all great players and some would greatly help our team. It’s up to the Falcons brain trust to pick the right ones at the right time.

8.) Which players will they zero in? Team Captains who were Eagle Scouts and rescued kittens out of trees as kids. Extra credit for walking old ladies across the street. Reformed pot heads with great cover skills that can return punts are also under consideration.

9) Should the Falcons take more than one DE? If they want to go mining for gold in the later rounds, fine. We have other immediate (and contractual) needs in the early rounds.

John Waynesworld

April 10th, 2013
7:21 pm

D3

April 10th, 2013
8:24 pm

Breakdown by rounds, in terms of top-end strength (not necessarily depth per round)………

1st Round

Numbers represent average # of draft pick (lower the number the better)

1st Round — Picks 1 – 32

1) Tackle – 9.9 (3 players)
2) Guard – 10.0 (2 players)
3) Defensive End – 14.4 (6 players)
4) Safety – 16.6 (1 player)
5) D-Tackle – 16.7 (5 players)
6) Cornerback – 17.4
7) OLB – 19.6 (3 players)
8.) WR – 24.3 (4 players)
9) TE – 26.5 (1 player)
10) ILB – 28.7 (3 players)
11) RB – none
12) C – none

waynester

April 10th, 2013
8:54 pm

Walter’s new mock is out(Trufant) but you can easily see he’s taking his cues from the “private visits” list, too. I agree. It’s not anywhere near 100% but we’ve noticed the tendencies, too.
SW
S Taylor was the Comp in rd 4…..

Arno

April 10th, 2013
9:39 pm

As a certified toss-up guess-work head-scratching ignoramus when it comes to all this deft draft insight, I can only say I’m really looking forward to learning more about Nolan– who up to this point worked with what he was dealt (note his polite words last summer). This year his influence will be fascinating to watch. Can’t wait. However– I will not be surprised at all if the O gets an infusion. Ryan is the guy who makes this team work– IMO, they will get more positive point differential out of minor improvements surrounding him, than they will with bigger improvements on the D.

The Time is NOW

April 10th, 2013
10:09 pm

D3 – I am in awe of the massive amount of quality information you make available to us. The spread sheet is mind-boggling. Thank you!

D3

April 10th, 2013
10:10 pm

2nd Rd — #33 – 64
1) TE – 36.3 (1 player)
2) DT – 41.9 (3 players)
3) S – 44.3 (3 players)
4) RB – 46.5 (2 players)
5) DE – 47.4 (4 players)
6) WR – 48.8 (4 players)
7) CB – 51.6 (5 players)
8.) G – 54.3 (1 player)
9) C – 54.5 (1 player)
10) OLB – 60.0 (1 player)
11) T – 61.0 (1 player)
12) ILB – none

3rd Round — #65 – 96
1) T – 69.2
2) DT – 78.0
3) TE – 80.7
4) WR – 80.8
5) RB – 81.1
6) CB – 81.6
7) DE – 83.5
8.) S - 87.8
9) OLB – 89.8
10) G – 90.3
11) C – 97.0
12) ILB – none

4th Round — #97 – 128
1) DT – 107.5
2) RB – 110.9
3) WR – 113.3
4) CB – 113.3
5) S – 113.6
6) OLB – 116.0
7) DE – 117.1
8.) ILB – 117.4
9) T – 118.5
10) G – 124.5
11) C – 125.5
12) TE – none

5th Round — #129 – 160
1) ILB – 130.8
2) DT – 137.1
3) OLB – 138.2
4) RB – 141.1
5) S – 142.6
6) TE – 144.9
7) WR – 146.1
8.) CB – 147.7
9) DE – 147.8
10) T – 157.2
11) C – 160.0
12) G – 161.0
6th Round — #161 – 192
1) WR – 168.8
2) DT – 171.4
3) RB – 173.3
4) CB – 173.6
5) TE – 175.1
6) OLB – 175.89
7) ILB – 177.4
8.) C - 178.5
9) DE – 180.1
10) S – 182.8
11) G – 182.9
12) T - none

7th Round — #193 – 224
1) T – 185.3
2) S – 197.5
3) ILB – 202.4
4) OLB – 206.3
5) TE – 208.4
6) WR – 208.8
7) RB – 210.3
8.) DE – 211.3
9) C – 213.3
10) G -214.3
11) DT – 223.8
12) CB – 238.2

UDFA
1) CB – 238.2
2) T – 242.3
3) DT – 245.6
4) DE – 252.7
5) RB – 261.7
6) S – 266.3
7) OLB – 267.9
8.) ILB – 271.
9) TE – 274.1
10) WR – 286.6
11) G – 292.7
12) C – none

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 10th, 2013
10:33 pm

FALCONS::: April 10th MOCK DRAFT ::#1 Jamar Taylor (CB) #2 Khaseem Greene (OLB) [trade: Falcons # 2 in 2014 & # 4 & # 7 in 2013 for Cincy's # 2 in 2013 )] #2 Johnathan Jenkins (DT) #3 Tavarres King (WR) #4 Justin Pugh (OG/OT) #5 David Bass (DE) #6 Sanders Commings (CB) #7 Armonty Bryant (DE) #7 Ontereo McCalebb (RB/ kick returner)

D3

April 10th, 2013
10:41 pm

Flo / Screen Pass —- Can you guys shoot me ya’lls email addresses so I can send you this spreadsheet. dawsondevitt@hotmail.com

D3

April 10th, 2013
11:12 pm

Spreadsheet — I emailed it to as many Cage members emails I had, but if you didn’t get it and you’d like the final product, please shoot me an email at dawsondevitt@hotmail.com

Besides it being a really fun hobby, I really wanted to do the spreadsheet before I started locking in on certain players, certain rounds, and certain paths, because let’s be honest, once you make that first pick, it really sets the tone for the entire draft. I did the massive amounts of information on the spreadsheet to give myself a look at the whole draft, and not just the 1st few rounds, which I was always guilty of.

I also wanted to kind of combine as many viewpoints, rankings, and analysis as possible instead of just relying on one site for all my basis of opinion. I’ve also been on record as saying that I am not a tape guy, mainly because of the time it requires, but also I just rely on the professional’s opinions. It has given a really good perspective before we start diving head first in it. ‘

Some general takeaways from the spreadsheet before I start hitting the specifics………

+ — It has really helped me to understand “reaching” for a pick just because you have a position of need. I’ve always heard that phrase being said, but it makes sense if you look at the big picture. For example, I was just watching “Path to the Draft” on NFL N (like the only show I watch on that channel) and they were talking about the Rams and a few other teams “needing” a wide receiver and discussed taking either Tavon Austin or Cordarelle Patterson. Austin is a playmaker, but is a slot WR / utility weapon worth a first rounder? I know that Julio and AJ Green were. Furthermore, Patterson had one good year @ Tennessee and is the top WR of an other wise weak group at the top. So my long, winding point is “why reach for a guy like Patterson in the first when it is one of the strongest and deepest groups both in the 2nd round and 3rd round.” In short, it gives a new meaning to the way teams go about drafting.

+ — It also gives me a deeper appreciation for TD and his methodical “always having a long-range plan in place” even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time (Holmes ready to slide in at starting RT, saving money, and getting younger on the OL). Taking a look at the draft class overall, it also makes 100% complete sense that TD let go of Grimes, Abe, Dunta, Turner, Owens, etc. Walker is still a little of question mark, but seeing as DT is so deep, it also makes sense.

+— Another interesting thing to see was not just seeing how strong a round was by position by the top of the group, but also the number of quality candidates available. For instance, the Guard group would seem to be stacked in the first round, but if you think of the fact that there’s only two guys at the top (Warmack, Cooper) than it’s very deceiving. That being said, I’ll make a (not so) bold statement right now and say that we draft CB either in the 1st or 2nd round because of the immense amount of quality talent in those two rounds, and really even into the 3rd round.

Joshua malavenda

April 10th, 2013
11:58 pm

D3- I believe you right about the drafting of db in 1 or 2 round especially after last years comment from mafia talking about in the future of the nfl teams will have up to 5 or 6 DBs on the field.

I believe they will get a player like Corey Lemonier in 4th or 5th round. I bet they go db or db/lb/safety hybrid in the first or second rounds to solidify the nickel defense that mafia loves to run. I am really wishing that they will trade the farm next year for clowney. He is that good and would instantiously rocket our defense into another level. His production will be similar to what Julio did for our offense in his first year. Enough about next year and can this years draft come on already I am sitting on pins and needles with anticipation for the draft. Whatever happends in the draft I trust in td to making the best choices for team to win the super bowl this year.

D3

April 11th, 2013
12:15 am

JM — Good point on drafting. Just sent you the sheet. It really gives a good perspective on drafting and where gaps are throughout the draft and I can totally see why GM’s “reach” for a player when their guys are gone. For instance, if we want to take Corey Lemonier, we’ll have to get him in the second. Is he worth it? Maybe so, maybe if we use him as an OLB, because he offers nothing more than Cliff Matt or Mass at DE. But some team will definitely “reach” for certain players like Corey Lemonier and DT Brandon Williams because there’s a pretty huge dropoff from one level to the next. What’s unfortunate for us (assuming there’s not any major slides) is that the 1st round is insanely chock-full defensive prospects, but it completely flip-flops in the second round. It’s also totally changed my view on the draft. I still think that if we’re taking a CB in the 1st and Trufant is gone, I still like Banks more than Jamar Taylor, but I can’t say I’d be upset with Taylor @ #30. I’ve kind of circled back around from being on DT train, then being off, and now coming back one.

The reason I’m kind of back on is the fact that after the 1st, late first, and early second round DT’s, there is an ENORMOUS dropoff to the next level, where only Brandon Williams is anywhere close and he’s not even that close to Kawaan Short, John Jenkins, or Sylvester Williams. Problem is that since we draft at the end of the round, it’s almost a certainty none will be there @ #62. That’s why some of these mocks are so ridiculous. Like getting Jamar Taylor or Jonathan Banks at the end of the second round? Absolutely no way. Another example is that my guy OLB Jamie Collins is slotted for the 3rd, but if we want him, we’d have to take him at the end of the second because after Jarvis Jones, Arthur Brown, and Khaseem Greene, there’s another big dropoff. Good news is that there’s a ton of other great LB candidates that should be available # 94 such as Sio Moore, Sean Porter, and Zavier Gooden. Cornelius Washington is slated for the 4th round, but we’d be lucky to be able to get him at end of 3rd.

Gotta hit the pillow, but the draft juices are really flowing now.

Big Ray

April 11th, 2013
12:56 am

Waynester

If we don’t take one of the early DTs then I’d double up on the late rounders from UGA and Tech and probably grab a couple UDFAs also. Critical position for our defense. DE–Outside a handful of guys I don’t like this DE class….

I tend to agree with this….

darrell starks

April 11th, 2013
1:04 am

Falcons has get bigger and stronger up front specially on defense, a very undersize DL that is rank almost at bottom of pack every year in stopping the run and sacks.

A big DT who weight atleast 320pounds or more is the most important spot on this team, when talking about some one who can free up your LB so Dent, Spoon, Nicholas being able to make more plays on field, how many time have we seen this team get push around up front on DL.

This team has to build inside out not the other way around, and it begins with NT.

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

darrell starks

April 11th, 2013
1:27 am

DT may be the deepest ever in this year draft, here is a list of some solid DL that may be available at pick #30 OR #60.

1.JESSIE WILIAMS – Very big and strong up front will most definitely make this team better against the run, and a great player to protect your LB 2 make more plays.

2. JOHN JENKINS – Space eater that would clog up middle, but is his strength could be a question mark specially after watching the SEC championship game.

3. BRANDON WILLIAMS – Dominated up front against lower tier competition but in his Combine was a beast.

My 3 best player that will make and immediately impact at DT for Falcons, Jessie may be gone by pick #60 but Jenkins and Brandon might be still on the board come 2nd round.

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

darrell starks

April 11th, 2013
1:43 am

I remember when Ray Lewis was on ESPN sport talk show when ask who should the Ravens draft he said some one very big up front to protect and his name is Haloti Ngata.

Ravens took heed and did exactly that drafted Haloti and his career took right of again, the year before that Ray had his worst year ever in being productive on the field.

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

HollywoodFalconFan

April 11th, 2013
2:01 am

grab a corner in the first, trade a pick from middle round on day two or three. stock up on athleticism. this writer missed on a lot of names that would be better selections. Datone from Ucla, Margus Hunt,
totally left them out.

need help at linebacker too. more athletic. think SF.

darrell starks

April 11th, 2013
2:07 am

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Hugh Acheson talks 5&10 progress and Savannah project Cancel [...]

Screen Pass

April 11th, 2013
5:14 am

“Flo / Screen Pass —- Can you guys shoot me ya’lls email addresses so I can send you this spreadsheet” – D3

I thought I sent it, tried again. I was an idiot an gave the compy permission to install windows updates without looking and got Explorer10 or whatever the new one is. It says it was sent so if you don’t get it let me know later and I’ll just put up my email. I got a throwaway account so no worries.

Screen Pass

April 11th, 2013
5:23 am

“I still think that if we’re taking a CB in the 1st and Trufant is gone, I still like Banks more than Jamar Taylor, but I can’t say I’d be upset with Taylor @ #30. I’ve kind of circled back around from being on DT train, then being off, and now coming back one. ” – D3

Good to see the lightbulb got lit. After doing enough of these you learn all kinds of things…the width and breadth of everything to consider when drafting is astounding. It is a true brainteaser and mental exercise. This one is frustrating but reassuring at the same time.
I have gone back and forth many times, but I have finally taken Trufant out of my equations. If he is there I think the Falcons would take him, but in my mind he would have to be covered by a FA vet anyways so why bother if certain other guys are there. I cannot fathom why Owens was released, only a couple things make sense. The FO either has guys in house they are happy with or we will get a FA vet. I can’t stand being pigeonholed and that is what Trufant is…just a good prospect but nothing special and not very likely to make an impact as TD relying on a solely on a targeted drafted guy seems really remote.

Screen Pass

April 11th, 2013
5:34 am

“This year his influence will be fascinating to watch. Can’t wait. However– I will not be surprised at all if the O gets an infusion. Ryan is the guy who makes this team work– IMO, they will get more positive point differential out of minor improvements surrounding him, than they will with bigger improvements on the D.” – Arno

Interesting and astute perspective. You might be one of few not ticked off by my mock draft, but it happens often and I’m used to it :) . Sometimes going against the grain of the majority is where the better answer is.

cdubb1545

April 11th, 2013
7:14 am

What about Margus Hunt?

Big Ray

April 11th, 2013
7:41 am

I never understood why anybody would get truly ticked off by another person’s mock draft. I can see getting ticked off if the person gives an extended reason for mocking a player to your team and it makes no damn sense (so you clown the hell out of them), but getting mad? Since when has a mock draft influenced what is actually going to happen? Get a grip, people….

Sometimes going against the grain of the majority is where the better answer is.

Careful, some ‘baters might be encouraged by such thinking. :lol:

Heisenberg

April 11th, 2013
7:47 am

I’ve been reading The Cage for a long time, but I hadn’t chimed in until now. The Falcons draft coverage here is unrivaled and I thought I’d throw my couple of pennies into the conversation.

1) When should the Falcons go defensive tackle?
There a few guys I would roll with in the first round (Short, Williams, or someone who slides way down). But if those names are off the board, CB is the way to go. Trufant, Banks, Taylor

2) What DT prospects should they zero in on?
Like a few of you, I’m big on Kawann Short. I’m a big Purdue (and Alabama fan – season tickets to both at some point). The Boilers have as good a tradition as there is in college football on the DL and Short is in the same vein talent/production- wise as some of the Boilers’ other big names. Since he was a sophomore, Short looked like a future Pro-Bowler. He has to pay property tax on the backfield and he’s got more athleticism than he gets credit for (basketball standout in high school). And with a vacuum at the West Lafayette head coaching spot the past few years, Short was always the most visible Boiler in the media and a great representative for the program. A real TD guy

3) What players will they zero in?
I’m all for surprises, but I think the Birds should go Trufant/Banks/Short/CB Taylor in Rd 1. Please no DE in the first round (or second). The value and immediate impact at DT and CB is there. The DEs available to us won’t be instant playmakers. A CB has its obvious advantages and a big DT would improve the pass rush and keep the OL off of our LBs

4) Are any candidates worth trading up to get?
There is too much depth in this draft and the D has too many needs for this to make any sense.

5) Should the Falcons take more than one DT?
If there is a massive body left on the third day, I’d pick him up for depth, especially with some injury risks on the inside. Big DTs are like middle relievers in baseball. You can never have enough… Though they could probably pick up a few as UDFAs for competition. Depends on the value left in the back half of the draft… Not to mention, if we play some more 3-4 or switch to a 3-4 base, Babineaux could slide over to end and we’ll need another body inside.

6) When should the Falcons go defensive end?
I would wait until Rd 3 or maybe even 4. DT, LB, and CB are bigger needs. Though I’m a proponent of Biermann making a permanent move to LB, or as permanent as he can get in Nolan’s D. If that happens, go with a DE in the 3rd

9) Should the Falcons take more than one DE?
I say we grab a 3/4 rd DE and then some depth later on. With the Osi signing and Matthews/Mass, the DE need is overblown by the expert Mockers.

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 11th, 2013
8:51 am

D3 – I will get my e-mail address to you as soon as I know what my wife changed it too. We have a new computer. Tomorrow morning my wife is having an out patient procedure done at 6 a.m. in Waycross (45 miles away) so I have to get up and out early to take her. Going to look at the inside of her lungs with a scope – something went down the wrong way when she was eating 10 days ago and she has been coughing ever since. If Doc finds anything it will be removed. Aftr that she will be as good as new!

JJ

April 11th, 2013
9:04 am

D3,
Great spreadsheet, just downloaded it on my phone and love the color coding rds.
Will get into this afternoon while watching the Masters.
Im curious where cocca mels picks land on your spreadsheet.
Once again, you never fail to amaze me buddy, nice job!!!

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 11th, 2013
9:05 am

10:37 – Heisenberg – excellent perspective on your part. If you have time go back to Flo-Ri-Duh 10:33 p.m. April 10th. and check out my mock. Not far off of what you said. So we are somewhat in agreement on who to mock. I took Jamar Taylor #1 as on my board. Trufant is gone to Tampa unless they make a trade with the Jets for Revis and then the Jets would take Trufant. Jamar Taylor appears to be more versatile in coverage than most to me – proficient at man to man and zone and good against the run – also good blitzer and sure tackler. That 4.37 40 doesn’t hurt either.

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 11th, 2013
9:09 am

Someone on here said John Jenkins (DT) is WEAK. If you had Chance Warmack & Barrett Jones double teaming you – the best DT in the NFL would look weak! Warmack is the best OG I have seen in YEARS. In fact if Warmack were to drop to #30 for the Falcons I would take him. OG is a need and he’s the cure.

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 11th, 2013
9:15 am

I actually saw a mock yesterday that showed the Falcons taking Sanders Commings (CB) #1 !!!!! Now don’t get me wrong – I do think he is way underrated and I took him in the 6th round in my recent mock but #1 ?

The Time is NOW

April 11th, 2013
9:52 am

Heisenberg – Guessing the handle is for “the uncertainty principle”. Great screen name, IMO.

Nookah

April 11th, 2013
9:58 am

Greetings Cagers!!

Man I missed you guys and I had so much to catch up on.

D3, to you my brother I say the utmost and heartiest respect to you for your dedication to us Cage family.

SW, I also have to give you an honourable mention for your kind words sent to me via email. As I told D3 and yourself, this Cage here is indeed a fraternity of brothers and the occasional sister that passes through.

CBrass, where you at?

To my Cage family, thanks a mil for your kind words and support. All went weel and God is in control.

To the draft and our beloved Birds, let the fun continue!!!

Can’t wait for this draft.

Go Falcons!!

Nookah

April 11th, 2013
9:59 am

Oh by the way I’m at work now and will put in my 2cents later.

Paddy O

April 11th, 2013
10:17 am

My preferred improvement plan (AKA the draft), I’d like the Falcons to move to the 3-4 as a base set; so, my key guy is a big butt DT – preferably 2 in the draft – 1 early, and one late – the GT guy. So, I say Rd 1. If a LB goes in Rd 1, then Rd 2. I would not draft ANY DE’s here – I would probably offer Abe a heavily incentive contract for 1 more year if he passes a physical. Smitty playing Abe so long the last game was a gigantic tactical error for zero benefit.

Joe Flacco

April 11th, 2013
10:18 am

Superbowl MVP biatches…..lol

Paddy O

April 11th, 2013
10:27 am

This years draft is a lot like 2 years ago – our needs are pretty clear – last year’s draft was really a crap shoot. The wild card is Nolan’s influence and his preferred type of player. As D3 muses, I think TD has a pretty good scout staff who indicates which draft has this depth per player position. However, us landing Tony G was a stroke of genius by TD. BTW, can anybody tell us what Clevelend got instead of JJ? All of our picks are pretty much the next round talent, but it simply means we are a good franchise. And now, consistently good. We are just 1 year behind my projected team development – glad BVG & MM are GONE.

Hamad Meander

April 11th, 2013
10:40 am

I’m ok with the Falcons going DT/DE in the frist two rounds as long as the value is gotten at those positions. If the combo is Bjorn Werner (1st) and Jesse Williams (2nd), I think I can live with that. If we go Desmont Trufant in the first and a lineman in the second, I can live with that. I don’t want to see Eifert and some reach in the second though. I don’t mind Eifert/Williams combo though. Bottom line, this draft needs to yield a deep defense and it should with 11 picks. Not every good player comes from the 1st or 2nd round. Remember Grimes was a free agent. You can find talented players in rounds 1 through 7, and it comes down to filling your needs at the right time with the right guy. Easy job this year.

SeminoleWarrior

April 11th, 2013
10:41 am

What’s up Cage

Quick hits before I go into “Jim Cantore mode” later this afternoon and evening. Going to be a potentially active night in the Peach State so all be alert.

Great post, D3. Fine, provoking questions. So here comes the Cocoa with his analysis.

SeminoleWarrior

April 11th, 2013
10:43 am

1) When should the Falcons go defensive tackle?

Cocoa suggests that there is considerable depth at the defensive tackle position in this draft so a high draft selection is not essential. In the middle rounds, somewhere between the third and the fifth, the Falcons can select a very productive, interior presence. As I stated in my draft selections pick assessment, the presence to control the interior of the line will require strength and run stuffing abilities. I do not require my defensive tackles to be a major force in the pass rush; rather they should be able to disrupt the three interior OL personnel (G/C/G) for that my defensive coordinator can be flexible in his overall defensive scheme, bring pressure from an array of sources.

2) What DT prospects should they zero in on?

Again, using the depth and underestimated value of the position in this draft, Cocoa has locked in on Akeem Spence of Illinois and Josh Boyd of Mississippi State. Both of these gentlemen can be obtained with ease in the round three – six range. This would represent outstanding value at this stage in the draft. Additionally, undrafted FAs such as Anthony McCloud and Nicholas Williams represent nice supplementary pieces at the position.

3) What players will they zero in? One more time — Cocoa strongly would recommend to TD and the staff to select Akeem Spence of Illinois and Josh Boyd of Mississippi State.

SeminoleWarrior

April 11th, 2013
10:49 am

4) Are any candidates worth trading up to get? No.

There is absolutely reason to trade up in this draft given the depth available at each of the “critical” need positions such as DT, LB, and CB. Defensive ends are a weak class this year and not worth the investment early, especially considering we do not know what we have on the team right now.

5) Should the Falcons take more than one DT?

Cocoa feels we absolutely must come out of this draft with at least two defensive tackles. One of them should contend to start immediately as the TRUE run plugging interior presence DESPERATELY needed. The other provides the same as well as depth.

I see Boyd and Spence in the mode of Paea and Melton of the Bears; a point the Cocoa has made on multiple occasions.

6) When should the Falcons go defensive end?

The Falcons should start with their own BENCH first!!

Massaquoi averaged 10 sacks per year during his Troy University career. Matthews was a quality “second banana”, averaging 5 sacks per year at South Carolina. Massaquoi’s college production is right in line with what we see on average with this class of defensive ends.

Honestly, the defensive ends in this draft do not impress the Cocoa and his staff. Most are seriously overrated and too remindful of the one year wonder that was Jamal Anderson. For example, who in the hell was Dante Jones before this season? Hitorically, the LSU “hype” has not carried over to the NFL level. Texas A&M star DaMonte Moore has had a career, once again, that parallels that we saw in Mass at TU.

If Mike Nolan is to be taken at his word, we do not need a dominate DE.

We need a player/players that as part of an overall SCHEME IMPROVEMENT will contribute to a consistent capacity to apply pressure on the quarterback and contain both the interior and the parameter.

Undrafted FAs such as Michael Buchanan and Tourek Williams could be added for camp competition and possible roster depth.

The youth movement should continue.

John Waynesworld

April 11th, 2013
10:56 am

“Outside a handful of guys I don’t like this DE class….” – Big Ray

Completely agree, and the Falcons don’t need to reach for a “pass rushing specialist” in the 1st or 2nd rounds, they need to select either a 3-down DE or look toward another position. If they go DE, the player has to be productive in other phases…

Projected 1st Round DEs’ 2012 Stats (Total Tackles / Sacks)

Ezekiel Ansah – 62 / 4.5
Bjoern Werner – 42 / 13
Datone Jones – 62 / 5.5
Tank Carradine – 80 / 11
Margus Hunt – 31 / 8
DaMontre Moore – 85 / 12.5
Alex Okafor – 54 / 12.5

A couple of these guys that may fall to us have statistical concerns. For instance with the well-hyped Werner, besides not having a substantial number of tackles, of his 13 sacks more than half (7.5) were in two games (4 came against Murray St). Margus Hunt’s issue is career reps, strength of competition and inconsistent production. Yes he is a freak, but in 12 games Hunt only had 23 total tackles (that were not sacks) all season long. Also, SMU didn’t exactly have a world-beating schedule:

http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-12/conf-usa/2012-smu-mustangs-football-schedule.php

Moore’s upper body strength is a real concern to NFL teams and Carradine should fall because of his injury (see P. Jerry). Of the other possible DEs that could fall to us at #30,

The Longhorns’ Alex Okafor seems like the safest pick. His only “bad” game was against Oklahoma LT and Top 5 draft pick Lane Johnson, who praised him afterward. His other non-productive game came in a 45-0 blowout win vs New Mexico.

Overall, DE is a boom-or-bust crapshoot in the 1st Round, but the Falcons can easily upgrade their back 7 with speed and/or size at #30, like an OLB or Safety who can cover (and tackle) a TE in space, or a Top 5 CB. The new, softer NFL rules are going to force teams to keep extra DBs, and probably less interior linebackers, to keep up with the speed of these “protected” receivers all over the field.

Unca' Bob

April 11th, 2013
10:58 am

JJ,

They are showing holes 11,12, and 13 on this link..

http://www.masters.com/en_US/live/index.html