How Much will the Atlanta Falcons Upgrade their LB Corps in the Draft?

A Very Strong Draft Class

Can Spoon Get Some Help Please? (AJC)

After months and months of research, analysis, debate, and discussion, the big day is finally almost upon us. With a little less than a week away, it’s like the build-up to Christmas morning to some, but for others it’s just a way to pass the time until real games actually start. Of all the drafts in the Dimitroff Era, this one appears to be one of the hardest to predict. And that’s saying something for the extremely stealth and sly Mr. Dimitroff. There’s a general consensus that this draft seems similar to the draft of 2009 that spent every pick on defense except one. There are many unproven players and a ton of holes on defense, so the belief is that it’s not a matter of if the Falcons go defense, but when and how often.

Linebacker is an area that is less certain than cornerback. Even though most all fans believe that linebacker is a major concern, there’s not necessarily any indication that the front office and coaching staff feel the same way. All three starters return from last year’s NFC Title run: Weatherspoon, Nicholas, and Dent. Weatherspoon seemed headed for his first Pro Bowl before injury, Nicholas had his ups and downs, but still led the team in tackles, and Dent started off slow before seeming to come on at the end of the year.

Almost that Time!

The problem, however, is the way the season ended. Even though it’s surely not all their fault, they were the easiest scapegoat in the near collapse to the Seahawks and the did-collapse to the 49ers because the tight end seemed pretty much uncovered for large parts of the game. Some of is coaching, some of it scheme, and some of it pass rush, but the linebackers do need to improve in coverage and overall play-making ability. Outside of a few seasons here and there, the Falcons linebacking corps has been the opposite of playmakers. this is a great draft to find some.

Outside Linebackers

Even though the Falcons won’t be getting any of the “elite” outside linebacker type of players like Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones, and Barkevious Mingo, there is a ton of talent littered throughout the entire draft. Although there is a decent dropoff after the elite level and the 2nd to 3rd round area, there is a ton of potential and superb college production to take in the draft. Even though the coaching staff and front office might be happy with their current crop of LBs (a long stretch), there is simply too much talent to not either upgrade immediately or at least groom for the future.

1st – 2nd Round

Arthur Brown

Kansas State

Should these 3 Be Starting? (AJC)

Brown is generally considered to be the top LB prospect after Jarvis Jones, at least in terms of true outside linebackers. Brown has been compared to Curtis Lofton for his supreme tackling abilities, where he racked up 218 tackles. He didn’t participate in the a few combine events, which may hurt his stock, but is generally considered to be a ready-made starter. Some sites have him slotted as more of an inside linebacker with his lack of playmaking stats. Brown is considered a late first round by some and an early second by others. However, it’s hard to believe the Falcons will take Brown since they are in dire need of playmakers and Brown doesn’t offer that, at least in terms of rushing the passer. Maybe his coverage skills would make up for it.

Khaseem Greene

Rutgers

One of the absolute best outside linebacker prospects in the entire draft. Greene may not the have the notoriety of Jones or Brown, but he may end up being as good or even better in the long run. Honestly, when you look at his stats, it’s hard to believe that he’s not considered to be first round material. He had almost 400 career tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 9 pass break-ups, and 6 INTs. Although most believe that Greene would be a reach in the 1st round, he has future star written all over him. If the Falcons pass on him in the first, he’ll be long gone by the time they pick in the second. Some will look at his height (barely over 6 feet) and be scared away, but Greene may be one of the best overall prospects in the entire draft. The former Scarlet Knight was a team captain, which only helps his case.

Jamie Collins

Southern Miss

Will Nicholas Be Challenged? (AJC)

Collins is very similar to Greene in his massive potential, while being somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of the entire draft. Even though he is slotted somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd round, it’s unfathomable to think that Collins will even be around when the Falcons pick in the 2nd round. Collins is loaded with potential and college production. He is almost 6’4, 250 lbs, runs a 4.64 forty, and 19 reps on the bench. Not only is he soaked with talent, he also has fantastic production. He’s locked down 313 tackles, 45 TFL, 21 sacks, 15 pass break ups, and 3 interceptions. Talk about a playmaker. Some may feel that the 2nd round will be a reach. They will likely be proven wrong, at least if his production translates to the next level.

3rd – 4th Round

Sio Moore

Connecticut

The former Huskie leads off a fantastic third round area of talent at outside linebacker, with rare combinations of talent and production. In terms of value, there may not be anyone better than Moore if the Falcons can somehow get him in the third. He is a load at 6’0, 245 lbs, runs a 4.65 forty, and notched the second highest bench (29) besides Cornelius Washington. Along with excellent physical skills, he’s got the production to back it up. He has one of the highest per game tackle ratios of any OLB prospects (6.9), one of the highest tackles for loss per game ratio (1.1), and one of the best per game sack ratios as well (0.4). Oh, and he can cover in space too, as he had the most pass break ups of any other OLB prospect in the draft (18). More, in fact, than many of the defensive back prospects. Like Collins, the Falcons will probably have to take Moore with the second pick or trade up, because a prospect with playmaker written all over him won’t last long.

Zaviar Gooden

Missouri

While not having the gaudy numbers that Greene, Collins, and Moore have. Gooden is one of the fastest and overall most solid OLB prospects overall. He had pretty good production at Missouri and wasn’t know much for getting in the backfield, but may be one of the better coverage LBs out there. He had 11 pass break ups and pulled down 5 INTs. He’s one of the fastest (4.47) and performed as one of the best on the bench, the 3 cone drill, and 20 yard shuttle. Gooden actually grades out, per NFL.com, as higher than both Collins and Moore and many see him as more ready to be an every down starter. Like Greene, Gooden was a team captain, which Dimitroff is very fond of.

Sean Porter

Texas A&M

Is Dent a Full-Time Starter? (AJC)

For whatever reason, the A&M Aggie has been overlooked by many scouting sites and have him placed close to the fourth round. Perhaps they’re missing something, as Porter could turn out to be the darkhorse candidate to have the most impact on the next level. A slower 40 time and average workout on the bench combined with a smaller framer (6’1, 229) may be scaring some away. A look at his production says it shouldn’t. He can rush the passer (14.5 sacks, 34.5 TFL) and has one of the better pass breakups (12). Porter is a ballplayer. In fact, NFL.com graded him higher than Greene, Collins, Moore, and Gooden. Only Jarvis Jones and Arthur Brown received a higher grade. The Falcons had him in for a personal visit and it won’t be lost on them that he was a team captain on one of the best teams in college football last year (only team to beat Alabama, in Tuscaloosa no less).

Gerald Hodges

Penn State

The OLB from Penn State appears similar to Gooden, whereby he seems to do good in coverage, but isn’t the pass rusher that some of the other OLBs ahead of him are. The former Nittany Lion is pretty average across the board in most all areas, neither being near the bottom, nor hitting the top. Hodges would seem to be a good OLB to develop, but anyone expecting him to be an immediate standout may be disappointed.

Cornelius Washington

Georgia

It’s hard to look at hardly any other project that has vaulted up draft boards as much as the former Dawg. Somewhat lost in the shuffle with his more notable defensive teammates, such as Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, John Jenkins, and Barcarri Rambo, Washington did as good as anyone to increase his stock in the 3-4 months prior to the draft. He had an outstanding Senior Bowl and superb combine. He is 6’4, 265 lbs, ran a 4.55 forty, and had the highest number of bench reps of ANY player at the combine (36). Some slot him as a defensive end, others as a 3-4 OLB, and some put him both. Washington doesn’t have the stats to back it up like some of the others, but you can bet your bottom dollar that some team will take him way earlier than he’s projected (3rd – 4th rd).

Chase Thomas

Stanford

Retired NFL stars will announce their former teams' second-round picks at the 2011 NFL draft. Atlanta's choice is Jessie Tuggle. Here are the other ex-players who were selected.

Where's the next Tuggle? (AJC)

Quite possibly the most underrated linebacker in the entire draft. Throw out all the fancy measurables and underwear Olympics skills because Thomas is a straight up football player. It always happens every draft, a player has massive production in college but doesn’t meet the scouts “smell test” at the Scouting Combine. How else can you explain Alfred Morris going in the 6th round or DE Michael Bennett going completely undrafted. Thomas did have a terrible combine. He ran an extremely slow forty @ 4.91 and had one of the lower performances on the bench of all LBs. However, the Falcons would be crazy not to consider someone who can pile up these stats: 228 tackles, 50 TFL, 27 sacks, 6 pass break ups, and 2 interceptions. NFL.com certainly didn’t let the combine bother them when they gave Thomas a higher grade than Gooden, Moore, Collins, and Greene. If the Falcons wait a little later for an OLB, they would be absolutely out of their minds not to consider Thomas. He also has good size @ 6’3, 244 lbs.

5th – 7th Round

Keith Pough

Howard

The former Howard star won’t blow you away and may be more in line for a backup role, at least at first. But no outside linebacker in the entire draft had more tackles per game than Pough. In fact, even when you include inside linebackers, only Manti Te’o had more tackles per game than Pough. Not only that, but Pough had the most tackles for a loss (70.5 / 1.7 per game) of any defensive player invited to the combine. He appears to be a throwback tackling machine and could be an option if the Falcons decide to double-dip at the position. Maybe be better suited for MLB or at least an ILB in a 3-4, but since the Falcons need major help stopping the run, Pough could be an excellent option.

Brandon Magee

Arizona State

Magee borders on the territory of possibly not being drafted. Funny enough, he reminds some of another former Arizona State LB named Robert James. He’s undersized and not overly fast, but did show a good ability to get in the backfield (24 TFL, 10 sacks). Might be more of a special teamer and major, major project.

Other Notable OLB Prospects

Devonte Holloman – South Carolina

Kiko Alonso – Oregon

Jelani Jenkins – Florida

Etienne Sabino – Ohio State

Inside Linebackers

This inside linebacker appears to be one of the weaker positions in the draft. It’s pretty top-heavy with a few elite type of players such as Manti Te’o, Alec Ogletree, and even maybe Kevin Minter, but there are huge gaps and dropoffs at the position.

Someone 1% as Good as Nobis? (AJC)

Akeem Dent is still a question mark, but showed enough promise in the very limited time he had on the field to at least get another year to start. However, outside of Dent they literally have no one else to man the middle. Mike Peterson has been a consummate Falcon, but it’s high time to move on and develop in the middle, particularly if Smith and Nolan want to use more 3-4 looks. Some believe here in The Cage that giving guys like Biermann, Nicholas, or even Spoon chances in the middle would be a good idea. However, that would require thinking outside the box and trying things that are different and that’s not this coaching staff’s forte.

1st – 3rd Round

Kevin Minter

LSU

Even though Te’o and Ogletree are getting all the hype, Minter is very close behind. Many teams, in fact, have him slotted to go late in the first round. At a bare minimum he won’t be escaping the early second round. The former Tiger is fast, strong, and will hit. He doesn’t have the most gaudy of stats or biggest numbers from the Combine, but he’s a tackling machine that would fit nicely in the middle of a defense. It’s highly doubtful the Falcons would look to inside linebacker @ #30, which is where they’d have to take him.

Kevin Reddick

North Carolina

After the top three, there’s an enormous dropoff in talent. Many are slotting those three to go in the first or early second. Most draft sites than rank the next group as 3rd or maybe even 4th round candidates. Kevin Reddick and Jon Bostic will be steals for a team if that’s the case. Reddick doesn’t get the hype, but he has better numbers than both Minter and Ogletree (tackles, TFL, sacks). He’s also faster than both Te’o and Minter. Reddick was a team captain, which will surely pique the Falcons interest.

Jon Bostic

Florida

Like Reddick, Bostic isn’t the most notable of ILB prospects, but he may hold the most potential. His college stats are decent, but he a an excellent Combine, at least in terms of speed. He was the fastest inside linebacker in the group and only Cornelius Washington had a faster time (4.55) of all linebacker candidates. Bostic had the fastest 40 time, 3 cone, and 20 yard shuttle as well. If the Falcons could land him in the 4th or 5th round, they could have a gem on their hands.

5th – 7th Round

Michael Mauti

Penn State

Oddly enough, there is a ton of value at inside linebacker towards then end of the draft and it starts with Mauti. The former Nittany Lion has decent college production, especially in tackling, but may hold more potential. Not known for being disruptive in the backfield, per se, he was the strongest inside linebacker at the Combine (28 reps). Didn’t run the forty, which may have hurt him. If the Falcons wait on later ILB, Mauti will surely get a look.

Steve Beauharnais

Rutgers

Brooking a Tackling Machine (AJC)

The former Scarlet Knight might be a darkhorse at ILB. He’s not overly fast (4.84) or immensely strong (19 reps), but he has some of the playmaking numbers of any inside linebacker available. He notched 34 tackles for a loss and only Bruce Taylor (16.5) had more sacks than Beauharnais. His measurables won’t blow many away, but he appears to be a major football player the Falcons could use.

AJ Klein

Iowa

Klein may be an attractive option as well, even though he doesn’t have the highest stats, he does seem to have some potential. The former Cyclone has good speed at 4.66 and decent strength, but not overwhelming. He is a great tackler, one of the best of the ILB candidates, and would be a good player to take a chance on later in the draft.

Bruce Taylor

Virginia Tech

Maybe it’s the slow forty time (5.01) and lower weight (237) that’s bringing him down, because Taylor seems to have very good stats to back up his potential. Only Kevin Reddick and Jarvis Jones pulled down more tackles for loss and Taylor was the absolute best ILB in terms of sacks (16.5). For a team that needs a pass rush any way they can get it, Taylor would be a great choice later in the draft.

558 comments Add your comment

Sinisin

April 17th, 2013
4:52 pm

First off, I know this was from the last thread:

I hope Peter King has been listening to the Twinkies and Moon Pies late at night again.-Big Ray

But I thought you should know that made me snort water out of my nose. I don’t like Peter King, esp when he bears the tidings of calamity. Trading like that seems like the move of a team without the ability to plan. We really can’t find a way to effectively utilize our current pick positions? Say it isn’t so.

The Time is NOW

April 17th, 2013
4:55 pm

Enter your comments here

Sinisin

April 17th, 2013
5:08 pm

D3, always glad to see you include later round prospects, and not just as a name but with some substantial info. Since ILB becomes a less pressing weak spot when you start prioritizing our catalogue of needs, I’m thinking later rounds are the best spot to address this position. Mauti and Beauharnais are both players I’ve heard complimentary rumblings about around the web, so I’m throwing my support there for now.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
5:57 pm

” Look, I’ll stand up and say right now, but if TD does that “mega deal” crap again, he’s on my permanent $— list, until further notice. ” – D3

Agreed. Hearing it was trying to move up for Eifert really ruined my coffee this morning. I said it would be really hard for TD to screw up the 1st round of this draft but it sounds like he may be trying already lol.

Happy Birthday Chops! Trying to get hold of M. Turner to get you some club passes as we speak :) .

The Time is NOW

April 17th, 2013
6:01 pm

Well presented insights, D3 (deadline or not)!

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
6:25 pm

What’s Up Cage

D3, a great topic. My thoughts remain with you and the family.

Back to the topic in a few moments but I will address a key point.

At this critical point, I must agree with Screen Pass and D3. If the Falcons move up in this draft, I will be on record as being SIGNIFICANTLY upset with TD. And I have been a strong TD defender.

There is ABSOLUTELY no reason, NONE, for the Falcons to trade up in this draft. Each position we have that is critical in nature (CB, LB) could EASILY be selected in this draft without reaching. If the move is to move up for a tight end, then it is even more crazy than anything that I can imagine.

I love Xavier Rhodes. But I would not move up to get him. The differences between the cornerbacks in this draft has MUCH more to do with WHERE they played than how they played. As far as the linebackers go, the depth in this draft is very applicable to LONG TERM viability of this team.

The Tee-Pee and Cocoa made it clear in its mock that the linebacker depth and skill set was ideal this year for the FUTURE of the Falcons.

But management seems captive to this damned B-movie dream of being one player, one play away from all that heavenly glory. Wake the hell up….And this is my team. We are not there. And 2013 is going to be a challenging revelation of that fact.

Trade up….if it occurs, it would be an absolute travesty and a significant loss of respect on my part for the front office.

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
6:29 pm

Back to the main topic.

Cocoa and his staff stand firmly behind its pick of Greene in the first round. And we stand equally firm in slotting the depth we did at linebacker in this draft. The Falcons need TWO linebackers to come in and challenge the current corps.

And I love the odds of my Rutgers pair, Beauharnais and Greene, coupled with ‘Spoon would result in an significantly upgraded, faster, linebacker corps.

waynester

April 17th, 2013
6:31 pm

This is just TD doing his job–marketing the team, getting “earned’ media by occasional big announcements and the occasional strategic “leaking” of info. I think he wants us to be talked about–relevant(in his words)–year-round. He’s trying to build a brand as well as a team–and is succeeding enormously…especially for a team that’s yet to win the big one. Lord willin’, that’s coming, too…..

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
6:34 pm

Cocoa re-iterates:

1) Khaseem Greene or Jamar Taylor

2) David Amerson or Sio Moore

4) Akeem Spence and Logan Ryan

5) Steve Beauharnais

7) Josh Boyd, AJ Klein, Earl Wolf

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
6:44 pm

From the last blog:

If you ask me, there IS no DE in this draft that we should trade up for. In fact, don’t trade up for ANYBODY.

Let the Jets, Raiders, and other not-so-smart organizations make these moves.

And while that is happening, the draft landscape is changing, causing other teams to either make desperate moves of their own, or change their “needs/wants” based on who or what they think won’t be available later on.

What does that do? Push even more good Day 1 Contributor prospects our way at #30.

bigslow

April 17th, 2013
6:47 pm

I would love to see the birds trade out off that 30 pick. The last few years teams have jumped back up in the late first round. I think we can still get our guy in the early 2nd round pick 1 to 5. Don’t no the compensation for pick # 30 but should be good.

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
6:47 pm

Sinsin ,

Glad to have virtually violated your olfactory system. ;)

Peter King is a guy I never paid much attention to, but once I did…well, he strikes me as the kind of writer who comes around your franchise’s office (or local beat writer) and says “Hey, give me somethin’ to work with. Gimme a story to roll with.”

In other words, NOT a hard worker, just a hack. Never had an original thought of his own, slums around, annoying folks until they give him something…. anything .

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
6:50 pm

BR

Totally concur. And I repeat. There is NO reason for the Falcons to trade up. None…

All eleven draft picks could compete for roster spots on this team. It is not like we have an element of stability on this roster at each position. And depth, critical depth, is essential to this team and its future.

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
6:57 pm

It is entirely conceivable that the Falcons double up on LB, as opposed to what all the pundits think they will or should do. I mean, could you imagine having Khaseem Greene and Sio Moore? How about Moore and Porter? Greene and Porter? Porter and Collins? Collins and Greene? Throw Cornelius Washington and/or Zavier Gooden, Arthur Brown, and Chase Thomas in there.

It’s very conceivable IF the Falcons don’t do any trading up.

Of course, this concept is not all that easy to swallow for those of us who have been hard up about adding a big boy in the middle (like myself) or those who have lusted after pass rushing DEs. But it just might be the way the Falcons go.

If defense is largely the name of the game in this draft (putting OL aside for the moment), then the first three picks of the draft could be spent on one CB and two LBs, not necessarily in that order – but likely in that order.

More on this later…

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
7:09 pm

Now, putting OL back into the conversation – you can count on us not getting a top LB prospect to help Spoon man the middle. Why?

Because CB is too much of a concern, I’m afraid. If we go OL, we just about have to do it in the first round, which means we go CB in the second (and might even have to move up to do that). I can see us going OL in the 2nd round, but the chances of finding the right value get slimmer unless teams start making runs on other positions.

One of the positions that teams will likely make a run at in the 2nd round (if the mocks are to be believed) is actually DT…more specifically the big NT types. Many mocks show the big boys dropping into the 2nd round, from top to bottom. I’ve seen some that showed us bypassing Jesse Williams or Johnathan Hankins at the bottom of the 2nd.

Bottom Line – SW probably called it right – the Falcons aren’t as keyed in on DT as some of us fans are. I sure hope this doesn’t turn out to be a mistake. I don’t see a lot of depth in that unit, and one of the better guys on that unit is getting some age on him. But enough of that for now.

If we end up going OL in the 2nd round, we might actually have to move up. RG and RT are the only positions I can see us addressing because if we’re picking on that high, we’re picking a guy to compete for (and preferably win) a starting spot. I have a hard time seeing us go with a Center since we have two guys on the roster slated to play that spot (with actual NFL practice time experience at the least). Plus, it would be too high of a pick to spend on a backup at that position – really at ANY OL position.

That said, we’ll have to see how this plays out.

If OL is an early pick, I’m guessing it’s first round, followed by a CB in the second. Problem is that I don’t know there will be a bonafide starter left by then. The latest projections have guys like Marcus Trufant and Xavier Rhodes going earlier than we pick in the first round, with Jamar Taylor also in the mix. The Patriots will definitely take a CB, probably right in front of us. After that, what do we have?

Teams will likely snap up Johnathon Banks, Amerson (not so interested in him), Slay, and maybe Robert Alford before we can pick. I’m not enamored with Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

The Time is NOW

April 17th, 2013
7:38 pm

SW – thanks for reminding us of your mock after all the discussions we have had since. It is certainly still relevant. Went back and re-read your reasoning earlier.

For better or worse, we’ll be guessin’ til it happens. Let’s see what TD and Nolan have in mind.

WR

April 17th, 2013
7:38 pm

Evening cage, not to ride others coat-tails so hardly, but the Falcons need not trade up in this draft in my opinion. I can easily say as many fans also believe, and probably alot of Falcons players, specifically Roddy White, with the return of Gonzo, the addition of Jackson and Osi, the thought of being just 10 yards away from the big dance this past season, that its SB or bust this year, but is that really true.

When you get that close as an organization, as players, and as a fan, the instant thought is shoulda, woulda, coulda, or just one more play here and there. But that’s true no matter the talent or lack thereof for any team. If we had more talent at such and such position we could be talking SB championship. If we would have made this play or that play, we could be talking SB championship, would talent have changed that. Sure, one could say so, but reality is that not many teams are constantly able to continually get to the SB. This is no longer the days of Buffalo, Dallas, or SF in the early to mid 90’s. In today’s game you can get their today and it might be a while before you get back no matter your talent level.

That being said, the Falcons should be contenders for the SB this year, they should also be contenders for the same position for years to come, provided they don’t keep mortgaging their future on being one player away right now.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
7:49 pm

“Now, putting OL back into the conversation – you can count on us not getting a top LB prospect to help Spoon man the middle. Why? …>” – BR

Excellent breakdown and mirrors my thinking. I stated I would do the offensive first draft and while not released you pretty much nailed what I came up with. Outside of a dream lucky fall we either take an impact OL in the first, move up in the 2nd or miss out. Little to no chance of Warmack falling which leaves Warford at RG. OT has a couple of guys that might last to 60 but I would strongly doubt it. M. Watson and Armstead could be traded back for or moved up for in 2nd, both could prolly beat out Homes because of far superior run blocking and no drop off in pass protection. I don’t think much of Long and some other guys but even they prolly won’t last to 60. OT with a chance to play LT are gold and highly valued. I have Warford 1st, Slay, Amerson, etc in 2nd which might not be around so maybe a trade up there, then I go for LBs and finally DTs. The draft can of course shake out different but that looks like a fairly reasonable assessment of shakeout.
That is pretty much the rough outline of my draft, will of course put up one with bells and whistles, whatnot later.

JJ

April 17th, 2013
7:50 pm

WR, agree and always good to see ya in the cage. Pray this is just GM talk to let other teams know we’re willing participants in trades, hopefully down!!!

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
8:21 pm

Time, thanks.

BR, while I completely understand your point on the defensive tackle situation, I assure you with all that I can that I truly think that Spence and Boyd are seriously underrated at the position in this “numerical assessment”. Both of these guys are battled tested against the run. They have played in solid conferences against quality opponents. While not superior pass rushers, they both contain the middle which allowed for others, in a flexible scheme, to handle pass rush duties.

As far as Amerson goes, I have watched this kid for the duration of his NC State time. Last year was simply a down year for him. This dude is a player and like former NCSU star Russell Wilson, Amerson is being undervalued. He is going to make a very solid CB or safety for some team. And ATL has depth issues at both. He represents EXCELLENT second round value and is not the reach that many of the pundits think.

Wayne

April 17th, 2013
8:26 pm

JJ, trying to get back in as often as possible. Whether I am in the cage or not I am always keeping up with the cage. The great thing about the cage and especially the OBCM, is that we have suffered for so long, but we have continued to keep the faith. I just do not believe in losing that because the birds were just 10 yards away. Maybe I missed it but the fact of the matter is that the Falcons were a devastating 1st half team to face last year. During the 2nd half they just appeared to be trying hold on, and it finally caught up to them. If NFL results were based on 1st half performances the Falcons would have gone undefeated all the way through the SB.

The easy finger would be to point out that the Falcons defensively couldn’t hold on to substantial leads in the 2nd half. What doesn’t get pointed out much is, why did the O good go so cold in the second half. I’ll be the 1st to say, loved Turner, loved what he helped to create with this new winning culture in the ATL, I pretty much thought he was much slower and it was time for him to go, but in all honesty, the blame he got for the 2nd half collapses were not all that deserved. Same could be said of the D, they weren’t exactly a shut down D, but they did plenty to put the team in position to win, their play didn’t change from the 1st half to the 2nd half, but the O’s definitely did.

I could go on and on forever, but the truth is that the Falcons are now contenders, sure one player could push them over the top for right now, but a few players might put them over the top for a much longer period of time.

JB Falcon

April 17th, 2013
8:29 pm

WR, the voice of reason.

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
8:34 pm

BR

I promise you…if I was pulling the trigger in the first four rounds of this draft, I would get my two CBs. my two LBs, and a DT in four of those five picks.

It can be done. And the foundation would be secure going forward.

WR

The Tee-Pee is on record. The mortgage has been signed and the risk is now in play. The band aids are in place. The question is now…will they hold?

Chop Buster

April 17th, 2013
8:38 pm

SP thanks man. Let me know when you get those passes.

Personally, I believe LB is a need that we’ve had for quite some time now. Lofton could never cover anyone, Nicholas is often chasing TEs, and Dent was just too green and looked lost a number of times. I feel we need two athletic, bangers who know how to use their hands to shed blocks and get after TEs, RBs and QBs. This is in addition to Spoon.

Now there are a number of athletic guys that can ball from the top list of LBs in the draft. I do know Nolan likes guys that are versatile and can play multiple roles so he can disguise his blitzes.

JJ

April 17th, 2013
8:42 pm

Wayne, 1 word, SMITTYBALL…those 10 yds would not matter with a better coach! Yes all you smitty lawyers, we won 13, hell we won the most games in franchise history but do you watch every game?

Im sure you do if your on this blog, Smittyball worked for the first 2 yrs but has held us back ever since. Every game at halftime, we knew it was coming and MR had to pull a rabbit out of his ass to win.

I was hopefull with TD’s dismissal of some veterans that smittys wpp was ending. Not so sure now. Love my falcons more than anything but
smittys coaching is not the “main” reason for their success, quite the opposite from my view.

What to do? Well were in a pickle in between the stadium and smittys win/loss record—nothing will happen. So Im praying TD and Arthur realize our coaches defeciancies (sp) and correct them.

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
8:42 pm

Chop, totally agree and concur.

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
8:44 pm

JJ @ 8:42

Preach, brother. Preach!!

JJ

April 17th, 2013
8:59 pm

SW, Not happy at all that some of us know the real reason we came up 10 yds short. But we will put our trust in TD and hopefully things will be better in this yr.

As we say every yr, cant wait to walk down p’tree with all my cage brothers and dogs!!!

SeminoleWarrior

April 17th, 2013
9:01 pm

Playa, I agree with the Master.

Buford Bob

April 17th, 2013
9:01 pm

I still say the Falcons will NOT go OL early in this draft.

Pat Hill has a 2nd RD pick in Konz, a 3rd in Holmes, another 3rd in Johnson, a 4th in Hawley, and a 5th RD guy in Reynolds that the FO had repeatedly praised and just brought back into the fold.

The cupboard is HARDLY bare. Time for Hill to make his money.

Also, I think we might be looking at this whole trade up rumor a little rashly. The move would not be random. It would be contingent on acquiring a single specific player, not a position.

Were TD to move into the #20-24 range for a 3rd & 5th, who would be the target & would that player make the team stronger than the picks at #30 & #92 (I know some of y’all are more hopeful, but statistically speaking that 5th rounder won’t see anything other than work teams).

I’m definitely a NO lean, but it’s still a question that must be considered regarding a specific player, no as a general move.

And I feel confident that player would not be Eifert, Werner, or Mingo.

So the better question is: who would TD target?

You can still decline (and I likely would), but that would certainly give us a clearer picture of where TD wants this team to go.

You trade up because of a blueprint, not a whim.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
9:02 pm

“Now there are a number of athletic guys that can ball from the top list of LBs in the draft. I do know Nolan likes guys that are versatile and can play multiple roles so he can disguise his blitzes.” – Chop

No worries, got a Krystal burger family pack to trade if he responds :) ! I agree LB’s could change our defense as much if not more as any position. I go for Gooden and gonna use the 4th comp on a hybrid project called Kenny Tate. There are a great number of LB’s that can help us because we are so weak there. I think SW’s front line LB strategy is sound but I also think following the value of the draft can let us address the position in a satisfactory manner in the 3rd or later. Getting a speedy pass defense guy that is ok at run and blitz would help greatly and thankfully this draft is pretty loaded there. A guy like Tate who was a really good safety prosect before an injury and bulking up/ moved to LB won’t prolly be great but he is extremely versatile and might surprise. His slow 40 time could be injury healing or being bulked up but he has great instincts and could spell safety in a pinch or disguise situations. By having a less than stellar debut as linebaker and that 40 time it is very realistic he could be around at comp rd4, he seems to be on no-ones radar but mock places don’t mean much.

JJ

April 17th, 2013
9:02 pm

brothers and sisters…no cats!!!

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Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
9:07 pm

WR ,

Always good to see you around, very good points.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
9:08 pm

“Wayne, 1 word, SMITTYBALL…those 10 yds would not matter with a better coach! Yes all you smitty lawyers, we won 13, hell we won the most games in franchise history but do you watch every game?” – JJ

Watching and “seeing” are two very different things. It is exactly because of Smittyball being almost guaranteed that I can go after Warford and be comfortable. His presence on our O-line could actually make that a viable choice. I don’t and won’t like it, but best to address it. The idea certain failed prospects are good enough to man the line and dominate is laughable to me, but hey opinions are what they are.

Buford Bob

April 17th, 2013
9:11 pm

@Wayne: I enjoy the level-headedness. However, I disagree on Turner (the culpability part, not the early years).

Part of the Smittyball curse was that Turner could no longer make it work. To my eyes (and I could be wrong) the problem was far more often that Turner couldn’t get to the LOS before the holes closed.

Did he deal with penetration at times? Certainly.

But I still lay the lion’s share of the the Falcons dismal per attempt yards at Turner’s cement-covered cleats.

Hopefully 2013 signals a goodbye to both so many negative runs & Smittyball (a guy can hope, right?)

JJ

April 17th, 2013
9:15 pm

Maybe TD is under authority/orders to change things up like the movie :moneyball:, yea SP I brought it up a few months ago.
Do not believe, CANNOT believe, AB didn’t see what we all saw.

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
9:18 pm

SP ,

I hear you. I still look forward to your mock and I have to admit – I wasn’t sure precisely where your thinking was going but I did finally figure it out. ;)

Buford Bob

April 17th, 2013
9:19 pm

@SP: lol at the “failed prospects” part of that dig.

I’d hate to be your dog. You’d never let me out of the kennel while telling everyone I was a failure & a mutt because I hadn’t yet proven that I wouldn’t mess on the floor.

I feel you on the opinions part tho, & respect em.

Buford Bob

April 17th, 2013
9:23 pm

And I’ve got no beef with your “the best Defense is a dominant Offense” philosophy.

I just disagree with the value of selecting an OG that early.

Now Tavon Austin? Where do I sign?

Buford Bob

April 17th, 2013
9:26 pm

Just agreed with you re: Offense tho SP.

BM got it, but it’ll be out soon.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
9:28 pm

“@SP: lol at the “failed prospects” part of that dig.” – BB

Hawley could surprise this year and an asteroid could hit the Earth also. He got a chance and failed so calling him a failed prospect is being truthful. He can change that but I wouldn’t bet a Super Bowl run on it. Certain people, not necessarily you, that have non stop hammered he idea that he will start no if’s, and’s or but’s on their blog because they got nailed talking him up too much would be the target of my dig if I really cared. I believe in results, not the weird belief our GM is infallible, everyone wearing a Falcons jersey is infallible, not the strange idea that because a guy weighs a certain amount or was drafted in the 4th he is golden.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
9:46 pm

“I’d hate to be your dog. You’d never let me out of the kennel while telling everyone I was a failure & a mutt because I hadn’t yet proven that I wouldn’t mess on the floor.” – BB

If Hawley was my poodle he would be let out of the kennel so my new Mastiff/ dire wolf/ pit bull combo mutt named Warford could feed on him freeing up cap space :) .

Mike

April 17th, 2013
9:50 pm

Well trade rumors have started. 2 years ago I was ecstatic about the thought of getting AJ Green or Julio Jones. I am not so much this time, of course speculation is TD is looking at trading up in the 1st, however there could’ve a 2nd or third rounder that they are targeting. One name that was thrown out was Dee Milner. That would be extremely expensive. In the JJ trade TD moved up 21 spots,and gave up a 2, 4, and a 1, 4 the following year. If Rhodes somehow falls into the 20’s I would not be opposed to a trade for next years 2 and a 4 this year to move up. I think after Rhodes there is a very small gap between Trufant, Banks, Taylor, and Amerson… So if it is a CB that they are in fact targeting Rhodes is the only sensible choice…and that is only in the unlikely case he falls into the 20s IMO. If it is a DE/OLB then after Jordan, Ansah, and JJones are gone then thereis not a huge gap between the next group of pass rushers. I couldn’t see moving up to get Jones due to durability concerns ( though despite his pro day this guy is a beast when he plays and I doubt he will slide out of the top 15). Jordan and Ansah will be extremely costly. I really like the both of them. When I saw Ansah in the senior bowl the 1st name came to mind was J Kearse. That all being said I think TD & Co is convinced that they are on the cusp of a SB, so I would not rule out the possibility of sacrificing the future for now.

darrell starks

April 17th, 2013
9:56 pm

D3 – I believe Falcons can land a good solid LB at pick #127

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

darrell starks

April 17th, 2013
10:07 pm

Here is a list of couple of LB who might be there at #127.

1. Cornelius Washington – A physical specimen, in other will be a beast at LB.

2. Chase Thomas – Will be a solid NFL player for years 2 come, kind of remind me of LB that played with Patriots during there Super Bowl run.

3. Nico Johnson – Now here is my sleeper might be the all round best LB in this year draft, but is not getting the love for some reason.

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

John Waynesworld

April 17th, 2013
10:41 pm

Our LBs are a real weakness, as we witnessed in both playoff games. Speed and cover skills are sorely needed in the Linebacker group. When these long-striding, gigantic Tight Ends are getting off that line of scrimmage, a defender with some size has to get them off their timing, as well as matching them stride for stride running their routes. The same thing with RBs. That takes fast athletic LBs or big Safeties, and since our 2 starting Safeties are contractually tied up, there’s no other place to go for immediate impact in the draft than Linebacker to take care of our TE issue. The faster the better.

Big Ray

April 17th, 2013
10:47 pm

SW ,

Now you KNOW I like your mock. ;)

The Time is NOW

April 17th, 2013
10:49 pm

Speaking of LB’s, here’s an OLB project who MAY still be around in the 6th:

http://www.nfl.com/draft/2013/profiles/trevardo-williams?id=2539671

He’s listed on the DE tab on the spreadsheet. Good college numbers, in terms of TFL and sacks (similar to Quanterus Smih). Good speed (4.57), but would have to develop coverage skills.

Screen Pass

April 17th, 2013
10:54 pm

” When these long-striding, gigantic Tight Ends are getting off that line of scrimmage, a defender with some size has to get them off their timing, as well as matching them stride for stride running their routes. The same thing with RBs. That takes fast athletic LBs or big Safeties, and since our 2 starting Safeties are contractually tied up, there’s no other place to go for immediate impact in the draft than Linebacker to take care of our TE issue. The faster the better.” – JW

Well said and the reason I go after K. Tate ( http://www.umterps.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/tate_kenny00.html ). He’s 6′4 and 230 pounds so a size match up for any TE, he hits like a freight train, blitzes and can zone cover as a safety to back up any injuries there in a pinch. Here is breakdown video ( http://draftbreakdown.com/kenny-tate-vs-florida-state-2012 ) of him in action at the “Star” hybrid position for Maryland. He is number 6 but is all over the field s got to look hard. He is very used to coverage and plays very physical. Hope he gets his old speed back, if not it wasn’t a big pick to waste.