Fans Grade the 2013 Atlanta Falcons Draft

Mixed Reviews from Most Fans

Welcome to Atlanta Mr. Trufant! (AJC)

Another Falcons draft has come and gone, and yet again the reviews are mixed with most Atlanta fans. Even with all the research in the world, GM Thomas Dimitroff proved to be his normal and completely unpredictable self, trading picks at will to get the players he wanted. Many fans predicted the Falcons would go cornerback and some even predicted they would take CB Desmond Trufant in the first round. That’s where the correct predictions ended.

In all, they took in 2 cornerbacks, 2 defensive ends, 1 tight end, 2 safeties, and 1 quarterback. Most are happy with the players selected, or can tolerate them, but the idea that the Falcons brought home exactly 0 linebackers, defensive tackles, or offensive linemen is perplexing to say the least. Even though many were initially upset at taking two cornerbacks with the first two picks, what was once one of the biggest weaknesses had immediately been transformed into a massive strength, not just for 2013, but for the next many years. Cornerback has been one of the most unstable positions the past 5 years, and it’s finally been solidified.

Trufant has Great Bloodlines (AJC)

Many fans were OK with taking a defensive end in the 4th round, one of the most potential laden in the entire draft and definitely a good pick in that round, but then it veered off track for some fans. Perhaps the biggest reach of the entire haul was taking TE Levine Toilolo with the 4th round compensatory pick. Some sites had him slotted as low as the 6th or even 7th rounds. Then Dimitroff followed it up by doubling up on defensive end and even traded a 7th round pick to get DE Stansly Maponga. It was a brutal wait from the middle of the 5th round to all the way to the end of the entire draft.

The Falcons GM saved his most puzzling for last. He took safety Kemal Ishmael with the first one, a player not invited to the combine or even ranked by most scouting sites. He turned right around and took another safety in Zeke Motta, which was a great value pick. He finished up the draft with QB Sean Renfree from Duke, a highly intelligent player that’s had his work ethic compared to Peyton Manning from former coach David Cutcliffe. We’ll be analyzing and breaking down the draft in-depth over the next few weeks, but here’s your chance to grade the Falcons 2013 Draft Class. Feel free to use letter grades, numbers, whatever you like……….

1st Round

Desmond Trufant – Washington – Cornerback

How can you not like this pick? Some feel that Dimitroff pigeon-holed this pick long ago. While that may be true in some regard, Trufant is every bit worthy of his selection. He’s a unanimous selection as the 2nd or 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).

Great Pick (AJC)

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. 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. He’s a great young man as well. He was extremely humbled and very emotional when getting the call. He has fantastic bloodlines with his brothers Marcus and Isaiah being NFL players.

Of course there’s the issue of what the Falcons GM gave up. It was painful to see the Falcons part with their 3rd round pick, and even their 6th as well, especially in such a deep defensive draft. Time will tell on whether the Falcons gave up too much in seeing how those 3rd round selections for other teams pan out, but also how well Trufant does compared to the other first round CBs in Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes. Some believe it was a mistake because there were so many good corners and that either Rhodes or Trufant would have dropped to them. Of course there’s no way of knowing now, but at a minimum it’s a pretty flimsy excuse because the Vikings took Rhodes with the very next pick, New England traded out of their pick, and the other main fan target, Jamar Taylor, didn’t go until pick #54. At a minimum, the argument is impossible to prove one way or another and it’s a wash.

Grade / Analysis = A

The Falcons grab one of the best corners and overall players in the draft. A four year starter from a heavy passing conference and an absolute plug-and-play player. Only reason this isn’t an A+ is due to giving up a 3rd round pick.

2nd Round

Robert Alford – SE Louisiana – Cornerback

Immediate reaction for most fans was disbelief. Why and how could Dimitroff go back-to-back CB in the first two rounds, especially after not having another pick until the end of the 4th round? The idea of not taking an linebacker or another position in this deep defensive draft will leave Dimitroff open to questions from fans until the end of 2013 on whether or not it was the right move to strengthen the secondary.

Robert Alford chosen by Falcons in 2nd round

Most Like Alford Pick (Getty Images)

However, the player Robert Alford and the end result of turning cornerback (and secondary overall) from an unstable position and major weakness to an overall team strength is hard to question. It was the greatest area of need after free agency, and Dimitroff just set the CB position as an extremely strong one for years to come. If Trufant, Asante Samuel, and Robert McClain are the top three, than Alford could be one of the best 4th corners in the NFL. It’s not out of the question for him winning the nickel job either. The SE Louisiana product had a very productive career notching 137 tackles, 20 pass break-ups, and 10 interceptions.

He’s 5’10, 188 lbs and had a fantastic combine performance. He ran a 4.39 forty, did 17 reps on the bench, and had one of the best vertical leaps and broad jumps of all cornerback prospects. In addition to being a great corner, he’s also fantastic on special teams and has to be considered to be a leader for the return man position, an area the Falcons were woefully inadequate. He was slotted to go somewhere in the 2nd round and he surely did. The corners that were ranked ahead of him (Jamar Taylor, David Amerson, Jonathan Banks) all went before him in the 2nd and only Darius Slay went earlier than he did that wasn’t roundly ranked ahead of him.

Grade / Analysis = B

Cornerbacks in the second round was arguably the strongest of the draft, at least in terms of value and quantity and Dimitroff struck. The player Robert Alford should earn an A grade, but deciding to pass on a linebacker or defensive tackle in the 2nd after giving up a 3rd will be questioned for awhile. However, the Falcons now have an extremely deep, young, and talented cornerback corps for years to come. When’s the last time you could say that?

4th Round

Malliciah Goodman – Clemson – Defensive End

It’s hard to argue with this pick at all. The media, both local and national alike, have beaten the “pass rush argument” to death for the last several years. They’ve not been saying anything untrue as the Falcons have been downright criminal in developing ANY pass rush whatsoever. They even made an enormous blunder in free agency with Ray Edwards. In short, it’s been pitiful. While Goodman may not turn into the next John Abraham, he has all the tools to become dominant at the next level.

Goodman Loaded w/ Potential

Even though the former Tiger had pretty good production, it’s his measurables that pop out. He’s 6’4, 276 lbs, has arms that are almost 37 inches long, and hands that are 11 inches long. He also ran a 4.87 and put up 26 reps on the bench at the combine. He’s has that prototypical defensive end size and frame, the likes of which the Falcons have not drafted for in a long time. He had decent production, if not stellar while at Clemson. He pulled down 136 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, and 12.5 sacks. He has issues with consistency and pre-snap awareness. Perhaps the best part is that utterly dominated one of the best offensive lines in LSU in the Chick-Fil-A bowl in December. Dimitroff mentioned that he can either play a 5-technique in the 3-4 or a 4-3 defensive end. The value is unquestioned as almost every single scouting site had him going in the 3rd round.

Grade / Analysis = A-

It’s a great pick for need and for value. Goodman addresses one of the biggest problems and areas for need the last 5 years. He’s a specimen the Falcons haven’t drafted in some time. His ceiling is enormous. Only reason it’s not an A+ is the Falcons inability to develop any other DE to date.

4th Round Compensatory

Levine Toilolo – Stanford – Tight End

Here’s where fellow Cage Members favorite mugs, TVs, or remotes were broken. If fans were already shaky due to the back-to-back corner picks and giving up a 3rd rounder, this one sent them hurling over the edge. Many thought the Falcons would take a developmental tight end, but surely not reach for one this early. The fact that Alabama NT Jesse Williams was sitting right there for the taking doesn’t help.

Toilolo Big Question Mark (AP)

Toilolo the player isn’t necessarily a bad player or project to take on. His biggest defenders will immediately point out that he beat out 2nd round TE Zach Ertz before injury. However, it’s where he was drafted that was bothersome. Predicting what would and would have not happened is impossible, but most scouting sites had him pegged around the 7th round territory and even others had him not being drafted at all. Toilolo’s height (6’8) is very intriguing, especially in the redzone. He also enjoys blocking, but will have major work to do if he wants to be considered as a #1 tight end. He will need to work on his hands, route running, and overall play. Even though he may get to a point of being a feature TE, right now he seems nothing more than a #2 / complementary tight end.

Grade / Analysis = C-

Although it’s irrelevant now, this seemed like a major, big-time reach by Dimitroff. Of course, projections were all over the place in general, but Toilolo was roundly considered a late round project. This pick will get the most scrutiny, and if he contributes and progresses, it could sway the overall draft, but right now, it doesn’t look very good.

5th Round

Stansly Maponga – TCU – Defensive End

At this point, fans knew that the double-dip was Dimitroff’s theme this year (even though they likely didn’t think it would happen again in the 7th round). Of all the picks, this is the most interesting, and not necessarily in a bad way. Maponga is loaded with potential and had great production as a sophomore before an injury filled year that saw him double-teamed a ton. He ended up with 23 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks.

Stansly Maponga

Maponga a Very Intriguing Pick (AP)

Beyond his production is his measurables. He’s the opposite of Goodman in that he not your typical NFL defensive end. He’s 6’2, 256, and did 30 reps on the bench at the combine. He didn’t run the 40 due to injury. Some see Maponga as somewhat of a hybrid and Dimitroff described him as a pass-rushing specialist. He may be able to drop in space and is probably a good fit for Nolan’s defense.

However, like Toilolo the player, Maponga seems to be a very good pick since he was slotted almost exactly where he was taken, but the selection creates more questions than answers. For instance, why would they take Maponga after already having Osi Umenyiora, drafting Malliciah Goodman, and even having Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews on the roster? And then there’s the case of Biermann. Most believe him to be the incumbent opposite Umenyiora. Does this mean that Biermann would be moving to linebacker more exclusively, or at least to some type of Nolan “joker / amoeba” role? Or is it just another young pass rusher for the competition?

Grade / Analysis = B or D (caveat)

This will sound like a major copout, and to a certain extent it is, but this depends on the future of Kroy Biermann. If the Falcons intend to keep Biermann at defensive end, this has to be a pick that makes no sense when you already have 4 players (Biermann, Matthews, Massaquoi, Goodman) competing for one spot. Don’t forget that Biermann is making starter level money @ $3 mill per year. (D)

But, if the Falcons taking Maponga creates more opportunities for Biermann to have his own special role, much as he did last year, it would kill two birds with one stone: creating more competition and pass-rushing prowess to the DE competition, but also moving Biermann to more of an LB role would strengthen an apparent weakness as it stands now (B).

7th Round – Compensatory #1

Kemal Ishmael – Safety – Central Florida

After seeing the Falcons give up their original 7th round pick and waiting from the beginning of the 5th round all the way to the end of the 7th, this pick was baffling. Ishmael was completely unknown or unheard of by most fans. He wasn’t invited to the combine (which doesn’t necessarily mean anything) and wasn’t even ranked by most scouting sites. The player may be a diamond in the rough, but it’s the next pick that makes this one more questionable. Safety actually was one of the Falcons strongest and deepest positions on the team with two returning Pro Bowlers (Moore, DeCoud) as the starters and promising Charles Mitchell in the 3rd spot.

Ishmael a head scratcher (AP)

Ishmael had 386 career tackles, which is nothing to sneeze at. He was also chosen as the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year by conference coaches. He’s got good size and speed and, like Maponga, could help transform the defense, but until the results are seen on the field, taking two safeties, one of them completely unknown, this has to be seen as a highly questionable pick at best.

Grade / Analysis = D

If this pick is looked upon in a vacuum, it probably would be much higher, but the fact they took another safety with the next pick and took someone who was completely unheard of in an area that’s one of the Falcons biggest strengths, this one will be guilty until proven innocent.

7th Round – Compensatory #2

Zeke Motta – Safety – Notre Dame

It may sound hypocritical to criticize the Ishmael pick, while turning around and lauding the Motta pick, but that’s what will follow. Motta was extremely productive at Notre Dame is one of the surest tackling defensive backs in the draft. A slow forty time dropped him down pretty far. However, in his press conference, Dimitroff talked about how Motta isn’t a straight line runner, but his quickness as evidenced in the 3 cone drill, has very good football speed. He’s 6’2, 215 and actually improved his 40 time at his pro day to 4.71 from 4.83. Motta was one of Mayock’s favorite players and expects him to not only make the team, but also to contribute.

Motta Good Value (AP)

At a minimum, Motta is a good backup depth to Thomas DeCoud at free safety, but Mike Nolan may have more in store for him. Some are speculating that Motta could possibly be the answer to the Falcons TE and 3rd down woes. Motta can cover tight ends, but isn’t afraid to come up in the box and lay the wood on someone either.

Grade / Analysis = B+

Motta was slotted in this area and could hold some deep potential for Mike Nolan’s defense both for his coverage skills and his ability to wrap up and tackle, a big problem area for the Falcons secondary in 2013.

7th Round – Compensatory #3

Sean Renfree – Duke – Quarterback

Sure, the Falcons could have used this pick on an area of higher need, such as linebacker or defensive tackle, but at this point in the draft you looking for potential, and Renfree has a lot of it and compares to Peyton Manning’s work ethic from coach David Cutcliffe, who coached both Manning brothers. At a minimum he’s a solid #3 QB that could finally stop the rotating backup QB turnstile. If he develops, they could possibly do what the Eagles did with Kevin Kolb and the Packers did with Matt Flynn, where they turned a backup QB into draft picks in a trade.

Grade = A-

Linebacker = D-

High Marks on Renfree (AP)

Of course we as fans don’t know what schemes or plans Mike Nolan has cooked up and it may make complete sense when the season starts, but right now the LB corps is criminally thin. Besides the starters of Weatherspoon, Dent, and Nicholas, there’s Robert James and newly signed Brian Banks. Pat Schiller is still on the practice squad and make make a push, but overall a position that needed as much help as any other position got absolutely zero. This could change if Biermann moves to a more permanent LB role.

Defensive Tackle = F

Like linebacker, defensive tackle was completely overlooked in the entire draft, and one that seemed to hold a lot of talent. As it stands currently, the Falcons lost one of their best rotation guys in Vance Walker and did not fill the void at all. As it stands, the Falcons only have 4 DT’s on the roster (Babineaux, Peters, Jerry, Robertson), and two of them have major injury troubles. They have Micanor Regis hanging around on the practice squad, but it’s hard to understand what’s going on here.

Overall: B-

It was tough trying to decide between a B- or a C+ and if there was anything in between that would be the grade. If you break down each pick and look at the entire draft as a whole, it looks to be more strong than questionable overall. The picks of Trufant, Alford, Goodman, Motta, and Renfree are hard to argue with. Truant and Alford will immediately help. Goodman has immense upside, especially for where he was picked. Motta will definitely contribute on special teams and likely lock down the back up free safety spot, and even could move into some type of safety / linebacker hybrid role. The Renfree pick is extremely low risk with a potenial high reward. Also, it will likely stop the revolving door at 3rd string QB.

Trufant OBvious Gem of Draft (AJC)

The questionable and / or suspect picks include Levine Toilolo, Stansly Maponga, and Kemal Ishmael. Toilolo will be one that could either swing this draft much higher, or keep it around middle to average. If comes in and contributes and finds some production as the #2 TE, than it was a good pick, but if Coffman or Palmer take most of the snaps, than it likely was a major reach. Maponga was a good pick and if it helps change the direction of the defense, it was even better, but if it’s just another body in the competition at DE with Biermann still there, it doesn’t make any sense. The same goes for Ishmael. Right now, you have to think he’s somewhat of a long shot to even make the team, but if he does and the direction of the defense as a whole improves, it makes sense.

The most difficult for fans to swallow, at least currently and on the surface, is the decision not to pick up any help at either linebacker or defensive tackle, two of the most dangerously thin spots on the entire roster. And to be honest, two positions that could have used an injection of talent. Of course the true assessment won’t come until the final roster cutdown and the final return won’t be until the season gets underway, but for now it looks like a slightly above average haul.

The Cage’s Turn to Grade…………..

441 comments Add your comment

waynester

April 29th, 2013
9:12 pm

JJ

April 29th, 2013
9:31 pm

Chop Buster

April 29th, 2013
9:32 pm

What are we basing these grades on? Draft pundits projections? Scouts? I find giving grades to drafted players before they even step on the field to be an exercise in futility. But if I had to give a grade based on the players we selected in general I’d say overall it was a B.

waynester

April 29th, 2013
9:34 pm

explaination:
We covered our “must have” positions with up & coming guys, who are less expensive, allowing us to make a new deal with Ryan and still have $$ left over to add a few vets after camp cuts. Our division-mates also improved themselves and we now have to prepare to counter those moves with a couple of additions after June 1st cuts come down….
ps
D3
Great job juggling everything this draft season and providing a real service to your fellow Cagers. It’s truly appreciated, along with the personal passion you display for our team and for the regulars on the board. Thanks, man!

JB Falcon

April 29th, 2013
9:48 pm

All things considered, I feel a B+ is deserved. It ain’t like we were 4-12 last year.

JB Falcon

April 29th, 2013
9:57 pm

D3
Great job juggling everything this draft season and providing a real service to your fellow Cagers. It’s truly appreciated, along with the personal passion you display for our team and for the regulars on the board. Thanks, man!

co-sign

Mike

April 29th, 2013
9:59 pm

I would say B…getting Jesse Williams instead of Toilolo in the 4th and Chase Thomas or John Lotulelei would have made it an A. That being said there are a few of the UDFA’s that seem rather intriguing. LBs Paul Worrilow and Nick Clancy…Darius Johnson WR (unbelievable hands and catching radius for a small guy, athletic ability rivals Brent Grimes, just wonder about his ability to run after catch). Also DTs and o-linemen. Also hoping Banks makes the squad. Apparently was impressive in tryouts last year, but being close to start of the season set him back a year. I believe this draft was about getting Nolan his players.

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Police: Possible explosive device found in [...]

Andre

April 29th, 2013
10:10 pm

Kemal Ishmael better safety. Do your research before criticizing.

http://youtu.be/muVANT9nyJs

D3

April 29th, 2013
10:26 pm

Andre — He is not the better safety, says every single scout, analyst, and draft website. Obviously, we’re not scouts ourselves, so all we can do is trust the professionals. Not saying he won’t be good, just that right now he’s not the better safety. RE: doing research, that’s one of the funnier things I’ve heard in awhile. I’ll be happy to send you thd draft excel spreadsheet I worked on for 2 months.

Chop Buster

April 29th, 2013
10:54 pm

To add to JB’s comments above, you did a bang up job on that player stats spreadsheet. It was a herculean effort and I appreciated the data as well. Everything was laid out perfectly to get whatever info you wanted on a particular player.

Mike

April 29th, 2013
10:54 pm

D3 I second JB’s post. Going off of the spreadsheet you put together and looking at scouting reports along with whatever video I could find on different players I felt like j knew what this draft I had to offer. I am generally locked in on the first two rounds, but after that outside the SEC and ACC to a degree I do not have a lot of exposure to different players. I was familiar with all the names selected by our Falcons, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their overall grade. All except Ishmael. That is better than most years, usually round 3 or 4 a name pops up…and I am like “who” from Middle What State? Anyway appreciate your time and effort.

Ken Strickland

April 29th, 2013
11:42 pm

Many CAGERS seem to think each draft & each draft pick is solely TDs decision, and his alone. How can anyone think he makes all of the Falcons draft decisions in a vacuum without the input or approval of anyone else at Flowery Branch?

If anyone is to be blamed or praised for this yrs draft, especially defensively, it’s MNolan, because this was HIS DRAFT. Apparently there were things Nolan wanted to do defensively that he couldn’t do as effectively as he wanted with DEs Abraham & Sidbury, CB DRobinson, & maybe even DT VWalker.

While we fans maybe up in arms over us not drafting a LB with cover skills, maybe Nolan intends to utilize the safeties he drafted to provide that function.

Flo - Ri - Duh

April 29th, 2013
11:43 pm

How can you grade them before they set foot on the field……. still I will try.
#1 Trufant (CB) = A- (passed up the #5 rated player in the draft and in my opinion a position of need – (Shariff Floyd DT) & at the same time gaining a starting CB which was priority #1 in this draft. A #3 & #4 was a lot to give to move up 8 spots.

#2 Alford (CB) = B. Is a CB here more important than getting a pass rushing DE or a starter at OLB? Passed over several highly ranked players at a position of need to get another CB that probably won’t start this year. This was the last real chance to upgrade the DL or OLB.

#3 TRADED = F Could have potentially gotten a starter with this pick due to the deep draft.

#4 Goodman (DE) = B – Couldn’t expect much more at DE in the 4th….. passed over a possible upgrade at WR (Swope, Quniton Patton, Tavarres King)

#4 Toilolo (TE) = C Not a position of grade need in this draft. Again – passed up upgrades at WR & OL for a PROJECT.

#5 Maponga (DE/LB) = C A 3rd down pass rusher at best. Another role player. Passed over Jesse Williams (DT) in an area where depth and quality is questionable.

#6 TRADED = B No big loss here.

#7 TRADED = A Used for trading up in 5th round…. acceptable.

#7 Kenal Ishmael (S) = F – WHO? Passed over a potential starter in Quenterus Smith (DE)

#7 Zeke Motta (S) = B A Worth a shot. Still why did he get passed over 243 times ?

#7 Sean Renfree (QB) = B Rated the 9th best QB by scout.com – Falcons could use a 3rd QB.

Falcons started with 11 picks and I don’t see more than 5 of these guys making the team and only ONE starter.

OVER ALL SCORE = C +

OVER ALL SCORE >>>> C+

Sinisin

April 29th, 2013
11:47 pm

D3, bang up job as always sir. You really should be getting paid for this. You did a great job recapping a lot of the bits and pieces I read in the last thread too. And to that end, Cagers you did a great job providing links and also personal analysis on possible uses of each player selected. It went a long way to making me feel more hopeful about this upcoming season, so thanks for the positivity and generally well thought out comments.

I may not love this draft, I may not feel we got the best value with our choices, and I may be able to provide 100 ways I woulda done it differently if I was the boss, but there are valid points to be made for the ‘it’s not so bad’ argument.

Sinisin

April 29th, 2013
11:59 pm

One notion I particularly like is the ‘new safeties contributing as hybrid s/olb’ deal. I don’t know who thought of that first, but it made me feel a lot better about taking those 2 safeties at the end. I’m still not GLAD we did that, but it’s nice to have a hope to cling to, even if it doesn’t turn into anything in the end. Maybe you folks are onto something there. The other acceptable (to me) prospect would be that one of these dudes is gonna replace Decoud and that will save us some $. Idk how true that is, and there are games where I like Decoud….but there are games where I wish we could find somebody, anybody, else too. The fact that our coaches focused on players who were strong tacklers makes me feel a bit better as well; glad it’s not just the fans seeing a major problem there. Anytime I see a need or weakness being addressed, I’m happy.

Sinisin

April 30th, 2013
12:09 am

I am very, very curious to see what happens with this tight end. That move made me feel more than a little sick, and the bits and pieces I’ve read about the dude have only made me feel worse. Still don’t see how the h*ll that was a bigger need than any other at the time, and if we are so into Chase Coffman why are we picking up another TE this year? It could have waited til next year’s draft, or later in this draft, or if there were no suitable draft prospects, go FA to fill the need. FA next year, even. We haven’t seen much of anything from the TEs we already have, so what makes us think we can develop this kid? Idk, that pick really bothered me, even in a draft filled with moves I’m still questioning. If he pans out, well, marvelous. But somehow I don’t see a ton of reason to feel hopeful of that, besides blind optimism. We aren’t exactly known for our player development….

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
2:26 am

Here’s how I grade it:

Getting precisely the guys you targeted: A

Drafting “Best Player Available”: D

Addressing the Front 7 of the defense: D + (Goodman and Maponga will be the difference in scheme/position versatility…or they won’t. Meanwhile LB wasn’t addressed at all.)

Addressing the OL: F (it didn’t happen. At all.)

Upgrading the defense: B+

Upgrading the offense: D

These are “on paper” grades. Clearly the true grades come when these guys take the field and make their presence known…or don’t.

No real way to grade this draft with consistency, that was the best I could do….

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
2:38 am

Might seem harsh, but I have to see a difference in how these draft picks are coached up and used before grading the draft higher. I’m grading this draft based on past experiences. Past experiences tell me that first and second rounders get meaningful playing time if not injured. Third rounders might, depending on what position they play and how thin it is or how effective/ineffective the current starters are in said position.

Anybody drafted past the third round (again, in the previous 5 years) generally sits the bench unless – again – injury or serious ineffectiveness on the part of the incumbent starter dictate otherwise.

Thus, Goodman and Maponga could be counted on to maybe get meaningful snaps a couple years from now. Maybe. Same with Toilolo. Only Trufant and Alford would have a legit shot at meaningful contribution in their rookie years. Even then, Alford wouldn’t be a guarantee because he was the 2nd corner taken and we have McClain already proven as a meaningful contributor, making him all but a guaranteed incumbent starters.

Basically, with past experiences we would be looking at two guys out of the plethora of picks as guys we can expect to see on the field.

Now if TD means what he says and Smitty adheres to it (”It’s time. Guys come off the bench and play”), then this draft gets a different and higher grade because TD and the CS got who they wanted and have the opportunity to make use of them, even the mid-rounders.

But until I actually SEE that difference on the field , it’s hard to be as confident and satisfied as I’d like to be in regard to this draft.

I feel that potentially , it was a better draft than it looks like on paper, in a vaccum, even with positions I felt needed to be addressed not being addressed in the draft.

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
2:47 am

I am very, very curious to see what happens with this tight end. That move made me feel more than a little sick, and the bits and pieces I’ve read about the dude have only made me feel worse. Still don’t see how the h*ll that was a bigger need than any other at the time, and if we are so into Chase Coffman why are we picking up another TE this year?

I get your drift. My one theory is that it’s a combination of hedging one’s bets and falling in love. Having TG88 around has shown the advantages of having a big TE in the offense, as big guys who can move become matchup nightmares for defenses. That alone is the “fall in love” aspect.

Hedging bets? Well, I’ll put it like this. Coffman has the talent. I’d say he has talent between Jason Whitten and Jimmy Graham (minus the drops). Maybe better than both. But he just cannot stay healthy…been that way his entire young NFL career. It’s why he’s bounced around. If he can stay healthy, and that is a BIG “if”, he’s deadly. Watch some of his highlights from college. Dude can ball.

On the other side, you have Michael Palmer. He’s solid. Can block, can catch. But he’s not a matchup nightmare for anybody by any means, and I think that has become apparent to the CS or they would not have brought in so many TEs as UDFAs last year, let alone Coffman after that.

So Toilolo is another “somewhat raw” prospect with size and athletic ability of a kind, who can create a matchup issue for defenses, even if in a limited capacity (that may change later…or it may not). He has more upside than Palmer, and is healthier than Coffman has proven to be so far.

As you say, it could be interesting. If Coffman stays healthy, I say Toilolo struggles to get onto the field. If not, look for Toilolo to be used a few times here and there, maybe on the end of the line, opposite TG88 in a nasty 2-TE set. Of course, that all depends on how well his reported intelligence helps him pick up the offense and blocking schemes.

We all know how it works around these parts – if the TE can’t block, he’ll have an uphill battle making the team, let alone getting on the field in real time.

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
2:47 am

Damn that blog monster.

I had a reply to Sinsin’s TE concerns….

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
2:51 am

Darn BLOG MONSTER!

Zeke Motta’s 40 yard dash time was very well explained in TD’s Draft Day 3 press conference.

Much like Jarvis Jones, he doesn’t run the official 40 yard dash well due to mechanics, but he plays at a much higher speed. TD says his play speed projects to a 4.6 forty…and you can bet that the Steelers saw the same in Jones.

Motta is roughly 215 lbs. At 225, I’m betting he retains his speed (that 3 cone drill was as good as many good CBs turn in) and adds to the wallop he brings. At that point, or maybe at 5 more lbs than that, you’re talking about replacing a LB in the lineup…

marko

April 30th, 2013
6:08 am

Pat Kirwan’s worried about our right tackle situation. He suggest that the Falcons resign Clabo as we’re forced to start untested Lamar Holmes at right tackle. Pre-draft, Dimitroff was specifically asked about the void at right tackle. He mentioned Holmes, but the first name he suggested was Mike Johnson.

Johnson came to us as Bama’s all-time leader in starts, Holmes was a Ju-co transfer with limited college experience, and due to the fact that we missed the part about him being injured, virtually no pre-season experience in the NFL. We’ve all read the reports stating that Johnson was beaten out by Reynolds for the right guard position. Actually it was a close competition that Garret won by default when Mike was injured in the pre-season.

Nick Saban was very high on Mike Johnson, Paul Boudreau didn’t seem to think much of him. Boudreau doesn’t work here anymore. Pat Hill has a years experience working with these guys and shortly we’ll get to see what he thinks. Don’t be surprised if he thinks more highly of Mike Johnson than his predecessor did.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/pat-kirwan/22167447/nfl-draft-may-be-over-but-these-nine-teams-still-have-specific-needs

I’m less disappointed in our undrafted free agent approach than D3 is. I like the small school hero approach. Most these guys produced great stats against lessor level talents. When lined up against NFL talent, most will be exposed, but sometimes you’ll find a Jessie Tuggle hiding in there.

Birdman

April 30th, 2013
6:28 am

Morning Cage

I think the first and second picks got an A

Goodman gets an A .Nolan will use this Guy to his ability

And the TE pick Toilolo . If he can be developed and I think he will be. Starter in 2014 . I think he is going to be Special in years to come 6′ 8 he will be a monster target for MR not to mention his blocking ability

I give the Draft a healthy B +

Wings

April 30th, 2013
7:26 am

I would give an overall grade of B for what I don’t know.

I like the potential of some of the chosen players very much. Potential doesn’t win games nor puts a great player on the field. And, that is the big issue. Aside from the first two picks, will any of these other players gain any experience by actually playing. At quarterback we have Matt Ryan and two young players. It has been the tendency of the coaching staff not to keep the offensive foot on the gas so none of the backup quarterbacks gain any game time experience. Will this situation continue?

It’s back to Big Ray’s statement that a grade is hard to give until they play.

From the most important perspective, I don’t believe the Falcon’s draft keeps us even with the San Francisco 49’s whose draft was probably one of the bests in the NFC. So maybe the success of the draft will be determined on Ground Hog Day in 2014.

Big Ray

April 30th, 2013
7:32 am

It has been the tendency of the coaching staff not to keep the offensive foot on the gas so none of the backup quarterbacks gain any game time experience. Will this situation continue?

Legit concern right there. You can practice until you’re blue in the face. You can be the world’s best clipboard holder. But until you face another team that has bad intentions for your arse, then it’s mostly fool’s gold.

Get ahead, stay ahead, and your backup QBs get some burn + we get to take Ice out early or midway through the 4th quarter.

Besides, how else can you showcase potential trade bait for 3rd-6th round picks? The only other way is a way you don’t want to have to go – injury to your starter.

Mike

April 30th, 2013
7:39 am

Sinsin- contrary to what many experts say, Toilolo was not brought in to replace TG. I had him in one of my earlier mocks. He is a compliment to TG in the red zone. If teams are going to use a LB and safety to double TG in the red zone, then you will have someone have to man up on a 6-8 TE. He along with Jax FA signing was nothing more to improve their short yardage and red zone efficiency.

Heisenberg

April 30th, 2013
7:51 am

Falcons draft for me gets a B. There really isn’t a player/project I don’t like, except Ishmael, but that’s solely because I don’t know much about him. His limited tape tells me nothing to suggest he didn’t deserve a late 7th round pick.

I love the CB double down. Losing the third rounder hurts, but honestly, if it’s a fourth round pick, people aren’t as focused on the trade up. And we got Goodman – a third round talent – in the fourth.

Goodman and Moponga are high floor/higher ceiling guys. I see them as at least contributors in the future. Toilolo is a situational guy for now and if he catches two touchdown passes this season, which is a possibility, he’ll be worth it. If Mike Johnson/Joe Hawley can be redzone targets, you will never convince me that a 6′8” TD specialist won’t be. Motta and Renfree are about as good as 7th round picks can get.

I would’ve given this draft an A if it went like this:
1st Rd: Trufant
2nd: Alford
3rd: traded
4th: Jesse Williams
4th: Goodman
5th: Toponga (without the trade-up)
6th: traded
7th: Motta
7th: Renfree
7th: Chase Thomas

Then get Ishmael as an UDFA if you want him.

Yeah, there’s some wishful thinking in there, but none of that is a stretch…. Still, there isn’t a draftee in the bunch I think couldn’t make an impact.

As far as our lines, the FO/CS thinks a lot more of Mike Johnson than the fans do, which at least tells us something. The beginning of this year could come along a little slow on the O-line, but one of the time-tested NFL rules is continuity and time spent playing together can make a good O-line elite if the coaching is there (which I believe it is). I’m glad to see a lot of young guys with upside that can play now. And they’ve got weapons around them to help hide any of their mistakes.

If Biermann moves to LB, our DE depth is still better than last year and our LB corps is better than last year.

Despite the opportunity costs of drafting like we did instead of going LB/DT/OL, there is a lot to like about this draft.

waynester

April 30th, 2013
8:11 am

marko
good link….
7 of the 9 teams on Kirwans’s list need O & D Linemen, 5 needing O-Line help. That means the price for a FA OT just went up if we have to grab one. If Clabo were brought back it wouldn’t lead to an improvement… Only if one of our young guys step up. I’d LOVE it if Mike Johnson won the job. It would justify our faith in him after staying with him through injury and still have Holmes to back up both Tackle spots. If Holmes wins the job, we still need someone to back up Baker and I don’t think Johnson can cover OLT. This season, we really NEED one or two late round guys to become contributors–whether on STs or as back-ups. Nothing would thrill me more than seeing TD hit a couple of home runs on UDFAs, enabling us to operate more economically, yet maintain a high level of play. If There’s a Brady or a Grimes or a Cruz in this class, it would help this franchise bigtime, given our cap situation…..

Unca' Bob

April 30th, 2013
9:02 am

waynester

He may not pan out to be a J Tuggle, but I do like his upside.

Ronnie Mingo Jr.
FB/RB – Ark
6-1- 231
4.47 40

He seemed to have been underutilized at Ark. But good production regardless. He has good hands out of the backfield as well. He reminds me of William Andrews, only faster.

waynester

April 30th, 2013
9:12 am

UB
We added several guys at FB–maybe we’ll pick up Tebow and give him a try….

waynester

April 30th, 2013
9:28 am

After the NFC Champ. Game, Nolan blamed the defensive failures on “scheme”. In hindsight, what he obviously meant was–having the players to FIT his scheme. Nolan/TD/MS cut/allowed to walk expensive guys who didn’t fit with young, cheaper guys who DO fit. As for the late rounders–most of them won’t make the team. If we can find a couple of surprises among them it’d be icing on the already tasty cake. It would be a dream come true if some late picks could supplant MORE expensive starters, enabling us to operate more efficiently and freely in Free Agency. I’m expecting us to make great strides defensively and on STs. On Offense, there are a couple of big unanswered questions but however it settles out, I think we have better players in the specific positions–we’ve just got to get them working in concert as an entire Unit. Reworking Ryan’s contract before the start of the season would facilitate making a couple of FA moves to “band-aid” any shortcomings we see pop up during Camp. I’m really optimistic that this team will gel into a better squad than any we’ve fielded so far, especially on Defense…..

John Waynesworld

April 30th, 2013
9:40 am

D3, I join the others in trumpeting much appreciation for your hard work. I always enjoy doing the draft with the Cagers and your input makes it all flow properly throughout the weekend. Much fun, thanks.

#1……….Enough of the Jesse Williams whack-a-backwards talk. We weren’t the only ones passing on this one-trick brahma bull for 4 FULL rounds. Jacksonville picked Denard Robinson in the 5th round, as a Runninng Back, before this guy. At the bottom of the 4th the Ravens picked a Full Back from HARVARD over this guy. The list goes on and on, so enough already.

#2…The way TD talked prior to the draft about the compensatory picks. He discussed them like they were surprise presents at Christmas, and he seemed to infer that that late comp 4th pick was like a wildcard General Manager pick and could be used for anything position, as long as he stayed with the defensive theme in the rest of the draft. That’s why I expected a RB (bigger than Quizz) to be taken with that comp pick as insurance in case SJ gets dinged. So instead TD pulls the trigger on a Tight End with a “high floor”, as right now he is a jump ball in the end zone waiting to happen. In an interview TD did say that their draft plan has not changed even with the re-acquisition of Tony Gonzales. That means they planned on drafting a TE, so they did.

#3…Although Motta is a good player from a high profile school, there are reasons he was passed up by the league for 6 rounds. I agree the 40 time helped his stock fall but there must have been other clues in the game tapes. On the other hand, Ishmael had absolutely ZERO publicity coming out of UCF and was unfairly shunned by the Combine. I believe we will all see in the coming months that Ishmael is a special athlete and I predict Kemal will immediately secure a ST role if not more in Nolan’s scheme. Kemal is my DITR #1 in this year’s draft.

#4…My DITR #2 is Mr. Maponga. Here are his words in a recent article:

(Maponga had a good feeling when he visited Atlanta last month.)

“I felt like I was at home, like this is where I was going to be for my career,” he said. “It just felt right. In the back of my head I knew I was probably going to end up being with the Falcons.”

At 6-foot-2, 256 pounds, Maponga says NFL scouts have undervalued his abilities. His injury is healing fast. He has another checkup Monday to see how far it has progressed.

“People think just because I’m undersized I can’t do most of the stuff the 6-4, 6-5 athletes do,” said Maponga, whose draft grade according to NFL.com was a 68, 30th among defensive linemen. “They’ve got their scores wrong. I’m ready to bring strength, power, speed and everything. I believe. I know that I’m the best defensive end in this draft. But for me to prove that, I’m just going to let my game speak for itself. I’ll be doing treatment and do what I need to do to come back 10 times better. I believe I will come back stronger than ever and ready.”

Overall Draft Grade – B+

PoolerSpirit

April 30th, 2013
9:57 am

Well, I agree with Big Ray on this point… “Getting precisely the guys you targeted: A”

Isn’t that what the draft is all about? We can’t judge based on best player available because… well, simply put, what if the best players available were quarterbacks… we don’t need one, hence, the best player available has no impact on our draft needs and our draft grade. Seems like many on here wanted Jesse Willliams for the defensive line. He was there, several times, and we passed on each opportunity to grab him. Is that a failure of our draft, or a clear statement that we didn’t need him as badly as we fans thought we needed him?
I’ll give TD an A+ for getting the players Nolan wanted/needed to build an aggressive, cover-the-back-half-with-the-best-DB’s-available, and get-after-the-QB-with-the-nastiest-DE’s-available defense.

By the way… I’m a guy that wanted to trade back, in the Patriot method I’ve witnessed for so long on draft day, and grab Warford with an early second round pick, then begin grabbing the best outside linebackers available, then defensive tackles, and hopefully grab a Ryan Swope and a Zac Stacy or Rex Burkhead in the later rounds…

Ken Strickland

April 30th, 2013
10:04 am

John Waynesworld

April 30th, 2013
10:11 am

Also to add onto Mike’s point about the accuracy of D3’s spreadsheet….

Prospect – Drafted – D3’s Projection

Trufant – Bottom 1st – Bottom 1st
Alford – Bottom 2nd – Bottom 2nd
Goodman – Bottom 4th – Middle 4th
Toilolo – Bottom 4th – Middle 6th
Maponga – Middle 5th – Bottom 5th
Ishmael – Bottom 7th – Unknown
Motta – Bottom 7th – Middle 7th
Renfree – Bottom 7th – #11 on QB list

That is incredible, D3! Awesome work.

Arno

April 30th, 2013
10:20 am

Alford pick gets an A from me. It will be REALLY nice to grab some yards on punt returns.

Toilolo pick gets my F for flummoxed. More interesting match-ups in the red zone is to me a luxurious detail. If we are looking for some O spark, we could use it up and down the field– one extra 3rd down conversion here and there. I want to see Matt getting an extra tenth of a second, our RB getting a better lead block, a slot receiver who gets one more yard after catch.

The Ishmael pick has the feel of somebody in the scouting department getting tossed a cracker. Hope it’s whole wheat.

LB sets the tone for the D. Why are we standing pat here? Anticipated synergy between Spoon and Biermann?

I’m spoiled. That spreadsheet from D3!!!

waynester

April 30th, 2013
10:21 am

JWW
That list shows no extreme “reaches” by TD. The biggest is Toilolo, but I expect he’ll have an impact on O and STs. I bet we’ll try him in a “Margus Hunt” kick blocker role on STs (with that height and leaping ability) plus the obvious red-zone threat which lessens the ‘reach’ in my view…..

waynester

April 30th, 2013
10:24 am

ps
at that point in the draft, you’re looking for role-players and developmental guys anyway, so, to me, the TE pick seems perfectly within those parameters. If reinforcements are needed on “D” there’s plenty of time to add a FA and get them acquainted with the playbook before the action begins…..

JB Falcon

April 30th, 2013
10:38 am

I agree with Pooler on the BPA vs Target. Only a team with no particular needs would consider going BPA on every round but I’ve never seen a team with no needs.

Buford Bob

April 30th, 2013
10:42 am

“While we fans maybe up in arms over us not drafting a LB with cover skills, maybe Nolan intends to utilize the safeties he drafted to provide that function” (KS).

THIS ^^^

Ken Strickland

April 30th, 2013
10:49 am

Paddy O

April 30th, 2013
11:23 am

Not being as cognizant of all the available talent throughout the draft and not sitting in the pre draft meetings at Flowery Branch, I was somewhat disappointed – CB is NOT what was causing our TE free for all during the playoffs last year – and honestly, those are the only games that count (you should whoop the bad/mediocre NFL teams). We have a quality AND depth problem at LB. But, if the safeties were drafted as hybrid guys that takes some of the the failure to address off – but, those were 7th round guys however you dice it. I rank this draft a C-; and only because D3 likes Alford and Goodman. The QB selection was idiotic; Maponga? really? We shall see. If the D finishes 2013 ranked in the bottom half of the NFL AGAIN, then either TD or Nolan/Smitty have a defensive development problem.

Noe Reavis

April 30th, 2013
11:28 am

You seem to understand so much about this,

Paddy O

April 30th, 2013
11:32 am

Mike – essentially, we drafted Toilolo so we don’t have to use Hawley and Mike Johnson as TE’s anymore. that was where Welcome Back earned his stupid cute rep last year.

Paddy O

April 30th, 2013
11:34 am

sin – i was advocating the S/LB hybrid – hopefully a guy who can hit, is a little lighter, but FASTER than your typical LB – thus a little better in coverage. However, 2 guys drafted in the 7th Rd don’t really give me much hope – but, Motta appears to be a good value pick.

The Time is NOW

April 30th, 2013
11:58 am

The draft did not go the way I expected it to, in terms of my perceived needs for our team. Nonetheless, we did pick up some solid talent, so it wasn’t a bust. That said, I don’t think you can really give an accurate grade for a draft until 3 to 5 years out…

JB Falcon

April 30th, 2013
12:12 pm

Time, grading the draft now is the same as predicting the players to draft. It’s based on perceived potential. I gave the draft an overall B+ even though we did not draft many players we were hoping for. There are only so many options at any given time during the draft to get the players you want. There’s 31 other teams that could be wanting the same guy. The NFL has this stupid “wait your turn” thingy going on. :)

D3

April 30th, 2013
1:07 pm

Tuesday Greetings Cage! — Rolling through another week and I think once some of the “draft shock” settles in, we start to get a better perspective. There is simply so much that we don’t know right now and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There’s mini-camp, OTA’s, potential FA signings, camp, roster cut downs, cap casualty players available, and training camp before the final 53 comes into focus.

Chop — RE: Grades, you’re right. It’s really impossible to grade any kind of player or draft as a whole until at least 2-3 years. I have a feeling that Trufant, Alford, Goodman, and Motta will make the team and likely be contributors. The others are very interesting picks.

waynester — Thanks for kudos. It was a fun hobby during that Feb/March dead zone. It will also be nice to be able and go back to see how these guys turn out on other teams. The heavy lifting is done, so from now on, I can just go and plug in the stats next year. I have no idea, but I don’t really see any major additions.

RE: Pat Kirwan — I may be in the minority, but I’m just not as worried about the Clabo release and many are. I could be dead wrong, but overall I think that Holmes surely has more upside than Clabo and definitely more athleticism. We can’t have it both ways on the RT situation. Either Clabo was overrated and overpaid and needed replacing or he’s good enough and should have kept his job. We can’t say he’s not worth his contract and a major weakness on the line and be upset when they make a move.

Hawley vs. Reynolds @ RG? — Speaking of TD’s presser, when I think Schultz mentioned the offensive line and he was talking about the RG position, the two names he mentioned were Reynolds and Hawley. He went on to talk a good bit about Hawley and how he’s gotten much bigger and stronger over the past year. We may struggle @ RG, but I think it’s worth it long-term to go ahead and move Konz to OC and Holmes to RT. I have a hard time seeing Johnson as the guy at RT, but what do I know.

The Time is NOW

April 30th, 2013
1:08 pm

“The NFL has this stupid “wait your turn” thingy going on.” – JB

What’s up with that? lol.