It’s that time again ladies and gentlemen, one of The Cage’s most enjoyable posts throughout the entire year: Atlanta Falcons Full Mock Madness Competition. It’s truly hard to believe that is the 5th annual one and it’s a great way to get the draft juices flowing and ready for the big day. The spreadsheet should make it much easier this time around instead of just shooting arrows in the dark. If you haven’t received it yet, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to send it to you ASAP. Will try to get some Falcons SWAG for the champion of our little friendly competition.
All mocks are due by Thursday (Draft Day) by 6 pm. You can either send them to my email, post them on the blog or both. If you have done them in the past, it makes it easier if you can repost them on the new thread.
You can submit up to 10 mocks if you want to, but only the mocks will be scored singularly. In other words, you can’t mix and match points between the various mocks.
Feel free to include any and all commentary on why you made the choice you did.
If you want to include any specific changes, such as trades, you need to specify that in your mock. Otherwise, the assumption will be that your choice follows the Falcons normal picks (#30, #62, #94, etc).
Person with highest singular mock wins the championship.
The Cage’s Weak and Futile Attempt
Desmond Trufant – Washington – Cornerback
It was a long and winding road being pulled away from the strict adherence to taking a defensive tackle, either a penetrating one like Kawaan Short or a wide-bodied NT like Jesse Williams. The initial selection was actually to go with Short or Williams, but all that came to mind was taking a defensive tackle and seeing them buried on the depth chart. It’s still the belief among many to most fans that the Falcons defensive tackle situation is one of the weakest spots.
Problem is, there’s been no indication that the coaching staff or front office feel the same way. They released players at other positions (RB, DE, CB, RT), but not defensive tackle. Babineaux was the lone veteran survivor in the release. They kept Peria Jerry and still have Corey Peters. They decided to let Vance Walker walk in free agency, but could justify that Travian Robertson slides into his spot. Theoretically, the two main starters (Babeineaux, Peters) return, with Peters likely being back to full health. In summary, any DT taken early would not have an immediate impact in Smith’s system.
Enter Desmond Trufant. Cornerback is the exact opposite of defensive tackle. They not only cut one starting corner (Dunta Robinson), but let the previous starting corner walk (Brent Grimes), and even let a solid backup in Chris Owens head to Cleveland. Oh yeah, and the only true starting CB will be 32 years old during the season (Asante Samuel). They have Robert McClain returning, who did an outstanding job in nickel, but it’s no certainty he’s a starting caliber corner on the outside and at a minimum is a major unproven. Lastly, there’s Dominique Franks who was cut last year and only brought back when Tim Toone got injured. The coaching staff are reportedly high on Peyton Thompson and Terrence Johnson, but until further notice they are still on the practice squad.
Some may think that Trufant is a reach or that Dimitroff has pigeonholed them into “having” to take a corner. While it may have shrunk the options somewhat, Trufant is every bit worthy of his selection. In fact, the Falcons may have to move up a few spots to get him. He’s a unanimous selection as the 3rd best corner, a first round talent, and an average taken from many scouting websites has him as the 25th best player in the draft. Only Jonathan Banks had more tackles than Trufant (195). He was a four year starter at Washington in the Pac-10 (a heavy passing conference). Only two CBs had more pass break ups (33), than Trufant (Dee Milliner – 36, Leon McFadden – 37).
He has prototypical corner size (6’0 – 190). The former Huskie was only bested by two CBs in the forty (Trufant – 4.38; Milliner – 4.7; Darius Slay – 4.36) and had one of the better performances on the bench. It works out perfectly for the Falcons being able to choose the best overall player and one of the biggest areas of need. At a minimum, a trio of Samuel, McClain, and Trufant would be an extremely athletic group that could also add even more talent in the draft. Trufant is a prototypical Dimitroff player: 4 year starter, high production, and team captain. He’s never taken a CB before the 3rd round, and even he (Owens) is no longer a Falcon. That changes in 2013.
Jamie Collins – Southern Miss – Outside Linebacker
If you were to do a snapshot poll to Falcons fans on what was the biggest reason they came up short in the NFC Title Game, it would obviously be mixed around, but poor linebacker play, particularly coverage of tight ends, would definitely be up there. As mentioned in an earlier post, it’s a little unfair to scapegoat the linebackers for the loss, but they played as big a role as any other position. It’s been well noted here before that the Falcons playmaking ability at linebacker has been weak to downright pitiful the last five years. A handful of sacks, even less interceptions, and a few forced fumbles and pass break-ups here and there won’t cut it for a defense looking to win the whole shebang.
Enter Jamie Collins. Even though it’s unlikely the Falcons will take Collins, they should seriously consider it. This guy has playmaker written all over him. First, he’s insanely athletically talented. He’s almost 6’4, 250 lbs, runs a 4.64 forty and reportedly broke the vertical jump record for outside linebackers at the combine (41.5). Throw in long arms and some of the fastest times in the 3 cone drill and 20 yard shuttle and it just keeps getting better. Oh, and he has major production as well. Collins amassed 303 career tackles, 45 tackles for a loss, 21 sacks, 15 pass break-ups, and 3 interceptions. Only two OLB’s had more tackles for a loss (Jarvis Jones – 45.5; Keith Pough – 70.5) than Collins. And only two OLB’s had more sacks (Jones – 28; Chase Thomas – 27) than the former Eagle. As if that were not enough, he’s extremely versatile. He can play as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 outside linebacker. A perfect fit for Mike Nolan. Falcons will have to take him in the second round, and may have to move up in the 2nd. He’s worth a trade up.
Stepfan Taylor – Stanford – Running Back
Like Collins, this likely won’t happen either, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. The Falcons are completely set for 2013 at running back. They already had Jacquizz Rodgers of All-Pro-Earl-Thomas-Truck fame returning, who some say could be an every down back by himself. They also have one of the most versatile and underrated Falcons returning in Jason Snelling. And in case someone has been living in a cave recently, they also signed one of the absolute best running backs of the past decade in Steven Jackson. He may have some tread on his tires, but he’s a massive upgrade over the 2012 RB situation.
So why should the Falcons spend a 3rd round pick on a running back? Because they will grab one of the best overall players in the entire draft.Seminole Warrior brought his name up a long, long time ago and if you look at his production, it simply is amazing. He ran for over 4,300 yards, scored 40 touchdowns, had 778 yards receiving, and 5 receiving TDs.
He’s built like a running back who will excel in the NFL at 5’9, 214 lbs. The only reason he has dropped as low as he has was due to a low combine performance. He had some of the lower workouts in all areas: a slow 40 time, low reps on the bench, and some of the lower times in the rest of the speed drills. He is not a burner, but reeks of being an overall excellent back. The former Cardinal is also a perfect fit for Dirk Koetter’s offense with his ability to run and catch out of the backfield. Like Collins, he probably won’t get picked, but the Falcons could get their running back of the future with Taylor.
Akeem Spence – Defensive Tackle – Illinois
If the Falcons decide to pass on defensive tackle in the earlier rounds, there is some value in the later rounds, even if not on an elite level. There’s a pretty large dropoff after the first wave of defensive tackles go, such as Shariff Floyd, Jonathan Hankins, and even Kawaan Short. But the value gets much better around the 4th round territory. With fans lack of knowledge on high the coaching staff ranks defensive tackle, this may be a good area to go for one. Bennie Logan and Akeem Spence are both good values around this spot.
Spence will definitely need to improve his pass rush skills some, but he is fantastic in the run game. He’s 6’1. 307 lbs, ran one of the better 40 times, and was only upped by one rep on the bench (Brandon Williams – 38, Spence – 37). He doesn’t have great sack numbers (3.5), but he did have one of the best tackles for loss numbers of all prospects. Spence would be a great move to pair with either Peters, Babineaux, or Robertson and would provide excellent depth. If nothing else, he could slide into the spot vacated by Vance Walker’s exit.
Chase Thomas – Stanford – Outside Linebacker
Even though Thomas may not be around this late, the Falcons should consider moving up if need be to get Thomas. It may not seem to make much sense to grab two linebackers this early, but if you keep going back to last year’s playoffs, the urgency is needed to completely revitalize the linebacking corps. Perhaps no unit has under-perfomed more than Falcons LB unit the last 5 years. An earlier post detailed how the linebackers have essentially been the opposite of playmakers, rarely making major defensive plays such as sacks, interceptions, pass break-ups, or forced fumbles. Taking both Collins and Thomas to add with Weatherspoon, Dent, and Nicholas would give the Falcons their most talented LB corps, maybe ever. It also would give the Falcons much more flexibility to run various looks and above all, get better in pass coverage.
Thomas should go way earlier than he’s projected, and still might, but he’s like many prospects and is slotted to drop due to a poor combine. Some prospects are just simply “football players” and he surely is one of them. His production at Stanford was outrageous. He collared 228 tackles, 50 tackles for loss, and 27 sacks, to go with 6 interceptions, and 2 pass break-ups. He’s 6’3, 244 and can play either in the 4-3 or 3-4. Even though the Falcons may not elect to take two LBs in this draft, sometimes players like Thomas and Taylor are simply too good to pass up.
David Bass – Missouri Western St. – Defensive End
If it’s difficult to try and predict what the Falcons are going to do in the early rounds, its next to impossible to figure out what’s going to happen in the later rounds. The Falcons coaching staff and front office have been very coy about what base defense they are going to use. Last year was a mixed use of different looks, from the base 4-3, to the 3-4, sometimes 3-3-5, and mostly nickel. The Falcons could elect to go with more of 5-technique defensive ends, 3-4 OLB’s, 3-4 ILB’s, but until further notice, fans have to assume that the 4-3 is still the base defense.
Bass has as good of production as any prospect in the entire draft at any position. In 50 games, Bass racked up 210 tackles, 57 tackles for a loss, and a mind-boggling 39.5 sacks. That’s more sacks than any other defensive player in the draft. Most will just chalk up his massive production only as a product of playing in Division 1AA instead of the premiere divisions. Bass is not anything physically imposing, but he’s got good size @ 6’4, 262 lbs. He didn’t run an overly fast 40 (4.84) and didn’t dominate on the bench (20), but Bass’ production is simply something you can’t ignore. Bass would be excellent depth and learn and groom behind Osi Umeniorya, as well as provide good depth to Matthews and Massaquoi.
Kwame Geathers – Georgia – Defensive Tackle
One of the biggest missing pieces for the Falcons if they want to run the 3-4 is a wide-bodied nose tackle. There happens to be plenty of them early in the draft, but if they decide to pass, there’s a few other options a little later in the draft. Kwame Geathers could be great project to take on. He was somewhat lost in the shuffle to all the more high profile defensive players like Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and John Jenkins, among others. Honestly, Geathers probably could have used another year in school, but he decided to go ahead and make the jump.
He has very low stats, but that wouldn’t be the reason a team takes him on. He notched only 6.5 tackles for a loss and 1 sack, but his build is enticing. The former Dawg is 6’5, 342 lbs and even though he would need some major development, he could be a great addition as the Falcons either try to transition fully to a 3-4, or just use him in needed looks. Any and all competition would be very welcomed.
Johnny Adams – Michigan State – Cornerback
If there’s any position that the Falcons may double-dip on, it appears to be cornerback. By far and away, Atlanta is thinnest at that spot. Asante Samuel, Robert McClain, and Dominique Franks are the only players currently on the roster. The Falcons will surely go cornerback sooner than later, but will likely grab more than one corner. Luckily, it’s a pretty deep class and there’s some value in the later rounds.
Johnny Adams represents one of the better choices for a cornerback at the end of the rounds. He may not be a starting level caliber corner, but would provide great depth and competition to the nickel or dime back spots. Adams isn’t the biggest of CBs (5’10), but he’s one of the faster ones (4.48) and had some of the best production in terms of getting his hands on the ball (24 pass break-ups, 11 interceptions). He also had one of the higher reps on the bench of all the CBs.
Eric Herman – Ohio – Offensive Guard
The Falcons offensive line is still in flux with the release of Tyson Clabo and the still unsettled nature of right guard. The guard class happens to one of the weakest positions, even though there’s a ton of elite taleynt at the top (Warmack, Cooper, Warford). The Falcons likely won’t get close to Warmack or Cooper and probably would have to take Warford in the 1st to get him. Outside of that, there’s not a ton of quality candidates available throughout the draft. One quality prospect at guard is Eric Herman. Herman is 6’4, 320 lbs and did the highest amount of reps on the bench of any other OG candidate at the combine. There will likely be a ton of candidates competing for the right guard position and Herman could either vie for a starting spot and at a minimum be excellent depth.
Ryan Spadola – Lehigh – Wide Receiver
Many to most feel that the Falcons will be taking a receiver at some point in the draft and they may decide to take one earlier since Roddy White will be 32 during the season, doubts are beginning on Harry Douglas, and no one has separated himself from the rest of the field. But much like defensive tackle, the coaching staff may not feel the same way as fans do. They seem to have a process in place for wide receivers in having to go through the practice squad as both Drew Davis and Kevin Cone have done. They also were still able to keep Kerry Meier, Tim Toone, and another PS guy in Marcus Jackson.
Spadola is an extremely low risk, potentially very high reward candidate. Many sites have Spadola pegged as going undrafted, but he would be worth a compensatory pick. He’s 6’1, 204, and had a very good combine. He ran a 4.48 and performed well in other areas. But it’s not Spadola’s measurables that would necessarily warrant a pick, but his production. Only one receiver (Conner Vernron – 3630) bested Spadola in terms of career yards and it wasn’t much (3611). He had more yards per game (100.3) than any other receiver, one of the highest yards per catch averages, and added 24 TDs. Like guard, receiver should be a major competition and Spadola could very well give great competition on the roster.
Emmett Cleary – Boston College – Offensive Tackle
The release of Tyson Clabo has apparently opened up the spot for Lamar Holmes and Mike Johnson to take. Garrett Reynolds must be staying in the mix at right guard because he could move back to his old position as well. But Will Svitek and Clabo are gone and someone has to step in for depth. Versatility is the name of the game, and Cleary is a perfect fit for the Falcons offensive line. He’s started 12 games at left tackle, 8 at left guard, and 18 at right tackle. He has good size at 6’6, 316, did well on the bench, and performed pretty well overall at the combine. Cleary is a good value pick right before the end of the draft
Jonathan Hankins – DT (1st Rd); Khaseem Greene – OLB (2nd Rd); Leon McFadden – CB (3rd Rd); Ryan Swope – WR (4th Rd); Cornelius Washington – DE/OLB (4th C); Dwayne Gratz – CB (5th Rd); AJ Klein – ILB (6th Rd); TJ Barnes – DT (7th Rd); DJ Hayden – CB (7th C#1); Onterio McCalebb – RB (7th C#2); Eric Herman – OG (7th Rd C#3)
Kawaan Short – DT (1st); Logan Ryanb – CB (2nd); Gerald Hodges – OLB (3rd); Ricky Wagner – OT (4th); Ace Sanders – WR (4th C); Kwame Geathers – DT (5th); Rex Burkhead – RB (6th); Dax Swanson – CB (7th); Jake Knott – LB (7th C#1); Nick Becton – Ot (7th C#2); Colby Cameron – QB (7th C#3)
Jonathan Banks – CB (1st); Jamie Collins – OLB (2nd)l Malliciah Goodman – DE (3rd); Leon McFadden – CB (4th); Mychal Rivera – TE (4th C); Josh Boyd – DT (5th); Ray Graham – RB (6th); Steve Beauharnais – ILB (7th); Brandon Kaufman – WR (7th C#1); Keelan Johnson – S (7th C#2); Blaize Foltz – OG (7th C#3)
Jamar Taylor – CB (1st); Brandon Williams – DT (2nd); Gavin Escobar – TE (3rd); Chase Thomas – OLB (4th); David Bass – DE (4th C); Denard Robinson – WR (5th); Zac Stacy – RB (6th); Bruce Taylor – ILB (7th); Joe Madsen – C (7th C#1); Onterio McCalebb – RB (7th C#2); Jordan Rodgers – QB (7th C#3)
Desmond Trufant – CB (1st); Tank Carradine – DE (2nd); Zaviar Gooden – OLB (3rd); Alvin Bailey – OG (4th); Jelani Jenkins (4th C); Kwame Geathers – DT (5th); Earl Wolf (6th); Onterio McCalebb (7th); Mark Harrison – WR (7th C#1); Jonathan Stewart – (7th C#2)
Margus Hunt – DE (1st); DJ Hayden – CB (2nd); Barrett Jones – C/G (3rd); Jon Bostic – ILB (4th); Marcus Lattimore – RB (4th C); Chris Gragg – TE (5th); Mike Edwards – CB (6th); Kwame Geathers – DT (7th); Luke Marquadt – OT (7th C#1); Chris Jones – DT (7th C#2); Janoris Slaughter – S (7th C#3)
Jamar Taylor – CB (1st); John Jenkins – DT (2nd); Sean Porter – OLB (3rd); Tharold Simon – CB (4th); Kenjon Barner – RB (4th C); Josh Boyd – DT (5th); Joseph Fauria – TE (6th); Matt Stankwiech – C (7th); Oscar Johnson – OT (7th C#1); Keelan Johnson – S (7th C#2); Ryan Spadola – WR (7th C#3)
Alec Ogletree – ILB (1st); Jonathan Banks – CB (2nd – Trade); Alex Okafor – DE (2nd); Blidi Wreh-Wilson – CB (3rd); Marcus Lattimore – RB (4th); Barrett Jones – C/G (4th C); Kwame Geathers – DT (5th); Ace Sanders – WR (6th); Emmett Cleary – OT (7th); Quanterus Smith – DE (7th C#1); Joseph Fauria – TE (7th C#2)
Tank Carradine – DE (1st); Khaseem Greene – OLB (2nd); Tyrann Mathieu – CB (3rd); Leon McFadden – CB (4th); Alvin Bailey – G (4th C); Kiko Alonso – LB (5th); Joseph Fauria – TE (6th); TJ Barnes – DT (7th); Chris Jones – DT (7th C#1); Conner Vernon – WR (7th C#2); Ryan Spadola – WR (7th C#3)
Larry Warford – G (1st); John Jenkins – DT (2nd); Robert Alford – CB (3rd); Chase Thomas – OLB (4th); Sean Porter – OLB (4th C); Quanterus Smith – DE (7th C#1); Knile Davis – RB (7th C#2); Kenny Tate – S (7th C#3)
Jarvis Jones – OLB (1st / Trade); Jonathan Banks – CB (2nd / Trade); TJ Barnes – DT (4th); Ryan Otten – TE (4th C); Ace Sanders – (5th); John Boyett – S (7th); Tanner Hawkinson – OT (7th C#1); AJ Klein – ILB (7th C#2); Trey Wilson – CB (7th C#3)
Margus Hunt – DE (1st); John Jenkins – DT (2nd); Tyrann Mathieu – CB (3rd); Chris Faulk – OT (4th); Chase Thomas – OLB (4th C); Denard Robinson – WR (5th); Sanders Commings – CB (6th); Jake Stoneburner – TE (7th); Tommy Bohanon – FB (7th C#1); TJ Barnes – (7th C#2); Charles Johnson – WR (7th C#3)
1) Alec Ogletree – ILB (1st); 2) David Amerson – CB (2nd); Brandon Williams – DT (3rd); Stepfan Taylor – RB (4th); William Gholston – (4th C); Ace Sanders – WR (5th); Earl Wolff – S (6th); Kwame Geathers – DT (7th); Seth Doege – QB (7th C#1); Emmett Cleary – OT (7th C#2); Braxton Cave – C (7th C#3)
Arthur Brown – OLB (1st); Darius Slay – CB (2nd); Jordan Hill – (DT); John Simon – DE (4th); Kevin Reddick – ILB (4th C); Ace Sanders – WR (5th); Johnny Adams – CB (6th); TJ Barnes – DT (7th); Nathan Williams – (7th C#1); Montel Harris – RB (7th C#2); James Wilson – (7th C#3)
Alec Ogletree – ILB (1st / Trade); Alex Okafor – DE (2nd); Akeem Spence – DT (3rd); Tyrann Mathieu – CB (4th); Barrett Jones – C/G (4th C); Rod Sweeting – CB (7th); TJ Barnes – DT (7th C#1); Kwame Geathers – DT (7th C#2)
Desmond Trufant – CB (1st); Margus Hunt – DE (2nd); Sean Porter – OLB (3rd); Jelani Jenkins – OLB (4th); Marcus Lattimore – RB (4th C); Robert Lester – S (5th); Joseph Fauria – TE (6th); Zac Stacy – RB (7th); Omoregie Uzzi – G (7th C#1); Chad Bumphis – WR (7th C#2)
Jesse Williams – DT (2nd – Trade); Jamar Taylor – CB (2nd – Trade); Jordan Reed – TE (3rd); Sean Porter – OLB (4th); Aaron Mellete – WR (4th C); JC Tretter – C (5th); Abry Jones – DE (6th); Mike Catapano – LB (7th); John Wetzel – OT (7th #1); Zach Rogers – WR (7th #2); Zach Sudfield – TE (7th #3)
Larry Warford – G (2nd – Trade); Darius Slay – CB (2nd); Zaviar Gooden – OLB (3rd); Jordan Hill – DT (4th); Malliciah Goodman – DE (4th C); Kenny Tate – S (5th); Ace Sanders – WR (6th); Joseph Fauria – TE (7th); TJ Barnes – DT (7th #1); Rod Sweeting – CB (7th#2); Tony Tatum – WR (7th #3)
Jamar Taylor – CB (1st); Sio Moore – OLB (2nd); Jordan Hill – DT (3rd); Leon McFadden – CB (4th); AJ Klein – ILB (4th C); Denard Robinson – WR (5th); Conner Vernon – WR (6th); Rex Burkhead – RB (7th); Zach Sudfield – TE (7th #1); Josh Boyd – DT (7th #2); Omo Uzzi – G (7th #3)
Khaseem Greene – OLB (1st); David Amerson – CB (2nd); Ryan Swope – WR (3rd); Akeem Spence – DT (4th); Logan Ruan – CB (4th C); Zac Stacy – RB (5th); Steve Beauharnais – ILB (6th); Josh Boyd – DT (7th); AJ Klein – ILB (7th #1); Zach Sudfield – TE (7th #2); Earl Wolff – (7th #3)
Jonathan Banks – CB (2nd – Trade); Zach Ertz – TE (2nd – trade); Khaseem Greene – OLB (2nd); Barrett Jones – C/G (3rd); David Bass – DE (4th c); Ace Sanders – WR (5th); TJ Barnes – DT (6th); Nick Moody – OLB (7th); Earl Wolff – S (7th #1); Mike James – RB (7th #2); Demetrius McCray – CB (7th #3)
Jonathan Banks – CB (1st); John Jenkins – DT (2nd); Zaviar Gooden – OLB (3rd); Alvin Bailey – G (4th); AJ Klein – ILB (4th C); Joe Kruger – DE (5th); Nick Kasa – TE (6th); Marcus Davis – WR (7th); Micah Hyde – CB (7th #1); TJ Barnes – DT (7th #2); Cooper Taylor – S (7th #3)
Jonathan Banks – CB (1st); Alex Okafor – DE (2nd); Sean Porter – OLB (3rd); Jordan Hill – DT (4th); Leon McFadden – CB (4th C); Chad Bumphus – WR (5th); Zeke Motta – S (6th); Edmund Kugila – G(7th); Phillip Lutzenkirchen – TE (7th #1); TJ Barnes – DT (7th #2); Jamaal Johnson-Webb (OT)
Desmond Trufant – CB (1st); Brandon Williams – DT (2nd); Tyrann Mathieu – CB (3rd); Zaviar Gooden – OLB (4th); Luke Marquadt – OT (4th C); Joseph Fauria – TE (5th); Ryan Spadola – WR (6th); TJ Barnes – DT (7th); Omo Uzzi – G (7th #1); Vernon Kearney – CB (7th #2); Ray-Ray Armstrong – S (7th #3)
Desmond Trufant – CB (1st); Gerald Hodges – OLB (2nd); Vance McDonald – TE (3rd); Marquis Goodwin – WR (4th); Kenny Tate – S (4th C); Akeem Spence – DT (5th); Luke Marquadt – OT (6th); Mike James – RB (7th); Everette Dawkins – DE (7th #1); Taimi Tutogi – FB (7th #2); Izaan Cross – DE (7th #3)
Jamar Taylor – CB (1st); Larry Warford – G (2nd); Cornelius Washington – DE/OLB (3rd); Zaviar Gooden – OLB (4th); Marcus Lattimore – RB (4th C); TJ Barnes – DT (5th); Keith Pough – OLB (6th); Cooper Taylor – S (7th); Ace Sanders – WR (7th #1); Knile Davis – RB (7th #2); Jakar Hamilton – S (7th #3)