Ten Questions as Atlanta Falcons Head for Draft

Fans Anxious as Draft Draws Close

Is It Inevitable? (AJC)

The “2014 NFL Draft Spreadsheet” is still in the works, but should be finished very soon. It will certainly be done in plenty of time for the draft. Aiming for early next week at the latest. And don’t look now, but the countdown is officially under a month to go (22 days, 17 hours, 15 minutes, but who’s counting) until the NFL Draft commences. Even though it was painful to hear that the NFL moved it back two weeks, it’s seemed to sneak up a little bit this year, so the heads of the NFL 4th Arm of Government must be very pleased.

Tommy the Trader Again? (AJC)

However, one thing that can get lost in the frenzy of names, combine numbers, stats, colleges, and pro day workouts heading to the draft is trends of general managers and front offices. In our case, what to try and look for in a Thomas Dimitroff draft. To put it mildly, you’d have more luck in not just winning one lottery in your lifetime, but two. Many in The Cage have adopted the “George Costanza Opposite” method: start by choosing what you think the Falcons should do, marry that with what would actually be good for the Falcons roster, and dabble a little common sense to the mix; and once you’ve done all that…..completely toss all of the above out and do the opposite. “If every instinct we draft amateurs have is wrong on Dimitroff, the opposite must be right.”

If you’re looking for a quick summary of how to approach this draft, Dimitroff Style, then head to this little instructional video for help: Thomas Dimitroff Opposite Mock Draft Methodology. While the spreadsheet nears its completion, here’s a few questions to get the conversations rolling as we near a meager 3 weeks away from the Big Day………….

1) Is it Inevitable?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 100 some odd days, you know what “IT” represents and that’s only one thing: that Thomas Dimitroff will once again trade away the next 3 years worth of draft picks for one player, signaling once again that hubris is in firm standing up in Flowery Branch. That would be for one Jadeveon Clowney. He’s ranked as the #1 prospect in the entire draft by pretty much every expert and draft site, but he’s also one of the riskiest. The proposition has reached such a zenith that the transaction seems to not be a matter of “IF,” but rather how much the Falcons will give up.

Any Chance Lewan to Atlanta? Doubtful (AJC)

Even though there’s more holes than a screen door on this roster (offensive tackle, pass rusher, free safety, running back, tight end, defensive tackle among many others), it appears that Dimitroff is set to unload as many 4-5 draft picks spread over the next several years. It’s anyone’s guess to how which ones or if he’ll trade with Houston or St. Louis, but good bets are that he’ll give up at least a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick or something close to it. Prepare yourselves Cage brothers and sisters, it appears the move is already in the works.

2) How will you Deal with Trade Up?

Fans should start developing some coping mechanisms as draft day approaches, which could just as easily be “Dread” or “Trade Away” Day for Falcons followers. It’s not as though the this hasn’t happened before. Dimitroff gave up 5 picks to move up and select Julio Jones: Two 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a 4th for the former Crimson Tide star. Perhaps he’s become emboldened due to Jones hitting a 1,000 yds as a rookie, a Pro Bowl in year 2, and on the way to being an All-Pro in year 3 before he was injured in game #5. Will you accept right off the bat? Will you burn, break, or destroy something? Will you be stoked? The Cage’s Advice: take some credence from the 7 stages of grief: 1) Shock and Denial; 2) Pain and Guilt; 3) Anger and Bargaining; 4) Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness; 5) The Upward Turn; 6) Recovery and Working Through; 7) Acceptance and Hope. At least since you already know it’s coming, you can go ahead and skip steps #1 and #2. Not real sure on the hope part either.

3) Will Dimitroff Go Over or Under with 1st Round Picks?

The Falcons GM has 6 full drafts under his belt. And even though he gave away one 1st round pick in the Jones trade, he did select two 1st round picks in his first draft of 2008. Most fans agree that he’s batting right at the .500 mark six years in. Of the 6 first rounders, the homeruns are obvious: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. And even though there’s only one year of data, Desmond Trufant seems like a winner as well. Making almost every Rookie of the Year team, as well as ranking as the 5th best overall CB according to Pro Football Focus. Not only that, he’s earned high praise from the best CB in the game Richard Sherman. Not something that’s easy to get.

#1? Not So Much (AJC)

Likewise, the bad picks are just as painful. Easily the worst pick of Dimitroff’s career is Peria Jerry. Injury played a part, but he was injury prone coming out of college. His stat lines have him listed as pulling down 5.5 sacks in 5 years. Not only the lack of sacks, but his overall play has been next to terrible since being taken in 1st round. There was also some guy named Clay Matthews III available as well. Next on the list is Sam Baker. While he can’t be called a true bust since he was played every game on the OL of the Falcons two best years (2010, 2012), he’s barely started half of all possible games as a Falcon and has been put on the IR 3 out of 6 years (2008, 2011, 2013). Even at his very best, he’s hardly a franchise left tackle. Finally is Sean Weatherspoon. Once again, Spoon isn’t necessarily a bust because he’s been good to decent, but he’s hardly lived up to his first round linebacker status, where true playmaking LB’s like Von Miller, Luke Kuelchy, and Clay Matthews III are among the best in the NFL. Weatherspoon had one great year (2011) and has been pretty mediocre and injury-riddled the rest.

4) Can TD End his 3rd Round Run of Misery?

This likely will be all for naught if he trades up to get Clowney, but if for some strange reason he decides to keep his 3rd round draft pick and take a player accordingly, he’ll need to seriously buck an ugly trend he’s developed over 6 years. This is not to say that every single one of his 3rd round picks have been terrible or busts, but most consider 3rd round picks to be eventual starter material, particularly in deep drafts. That, however, has not been the case. A list of Dimitroff’s 3rd round selections: Harry Douglas, Chevis Jackson, Chris Owens, Corey Peters, Mike Johnson, Akeem Dent, and Lamar Holmes. Corey Peters is the only one that’s developed into a legitimate, or at least productive, starter. Douglas has been a very good role player as well, and stepped up big time in Roddy White and Julio’s absence. The rest, not so good. Owens started 12 games in 4 years and half of those were as a rookie. They deemed him so unuseful that they wouldn’t pay him $1 million to stay and went on to draft not one, but two rookies last year. They decided that Dominique Franks was more worthy. Funny enough, he ended having a pretty decent year for the Browns and later the Dolphins.

Remember this 3rd Rd Pick? (AJC)

Chevis Jackson was cut after his second year in the league and never played in the NFL again. Mike Johnson couldn’t win a starting job at a vacant right guard position two years in a row, getting beat out by a 6’7 tackle who never even played guard in his career. He was brought back only for a very cheap, backup minimum this off-season. Akeem Dent was supposed to take over for Curtis Lofton, but ended up getting benched in favor of undrafted free agent rookies Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. And Lamar Holmes was thought to be 5th or 6th round project material before Dimitroff gobbled him up in the 3rd round. He wasn’t AS terrible at right tackle, but he was beyond atrocious at left tackle, literally ranking as one of the worst tackles in the NFL according to PFF. Perhaps 3rd round players are closer to being 4th rounder production, than 2nd round, but Dimitroff has flubbed more than he’s gotten right and can only count one halfway productive starter (Peters) and a good role player (HD) out of 7 3rd round draft picks in 6 years.

5) Is there a Wild Card in Play?

Any way Watkins in Play? (AJC)

Most fans assume there’s the “Big Four” in play for the Falcons, which would greatly fit either of their biggest two needs: offensive line (Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson) or pass rush (Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, with Anthony Barr close behind). Even if the Falcons don’t trade up, as crazy as that sounds, the Falcons will likely have their shot at one of the Big Four or Five. However, there’s always a chance, even unlikely, that a wild card could be in play. Some of those names include WR Sammy Watkins, TE Eric Ebron, DT Ra’shede Hageman, or even trading back in the first round, which is a Dimitroff no-no. Yes, it’s insanely improbable, but you just never know. Not many saw the Falcons giving up the moon to go get a wide receiver after being pummeled on both lines of scrimmage for years either.

6) What’s your Order of Top 6?

As mentioned above, there’s only a handful of prospects the Falcons will likely target, even if they stay pat at #6 overall. That list includes DE Clowney, LB’s Mack and Barr, OT’s Matthews and Robinson, and many are including WR Sammy Watkins in the mix as well. They obviously won’t be taking a QB, so what is your order of the Top 6 and who you hope falls to the Falcons?

7) Will Falcons Find a Starter-Ready Free Safety?

Lowery Likely the Starter (AJC)

If the Falcons either wait until the 3rd round or they trade up and away most all of their picks, recent statistics say no. At least not in terms of being productive right out of the gate. In the last 6 drafts, there’s been a slew of safeties taken in the 3rd round, but hardly any of them played very much and weren’t very productive when they did. The only example of a player that did slightly above average was Duron Harmon for the Patriots last year and he was faintly above average according to PFF.

That doesn’t mean they won’t get a stud going forward (Morgan Burnett became super after his rookie year), but in terms of year 1, the expectations shouldn’t be very high if they wait until the 3rd round or later. You may very well see Dwight Lowery as the Falcons starting free safety come opening day. Or perhaps either Zeke Motta or Kemal Ishmael are ready to blow up. Seems they could have either kept DeCoud until the draft or use their plenty of cap money to get a stud safety in free agency (TJ Ward, Donte Whitner come to mind).

8.) Will 2014 be more 2008 or 2009, 2012?

Which Worst Draft: 2009, 2010, or 2012? (AJC)

No GM is perfect and if you look at even the best GM’s in recent memory, they’re going to have their fair share of whiffs up and down the board, even the Ozzie Newsome’s, Ted Thompson’s, and John Schneider’s of the world. However, they have way more hits than misses, particularly in the early rounds and top to bottom of each draft, they have find some studs. That can be said of Dimitroff if you pick and choose, but in terms of singular drafts, not so much. His 2008 stands as his best: Matt Ryan, Curtis Lofton, Sam Baker, Harry Douglas, Thomas DeCoud, Kroy Biermann. They inexplicably let Lofton go to the Saints and DeCoud just signed with the Panthers. But top to bottom, it was a very good draft. Contrast that with some of the other ones, and it gets ugly really quick. 2009: Peria Jerry, William Moore, Chris Owens, Lawrence Sidbury, Garrett Reynolds, William Middleton, Spencer Adkins, Vance Walker. That is easily his worst draft top-to-bottom. In fact, he only gained one starter out of the whole draft and only two of them are still on the roster (if you count Jerry’s late, very low re-signing). They stupidly let Vance Walker leave, which was the best pick of the whole draft after Moore.

If 2009 was bad, 2012 might have been even worse. Without a 1st or 4th round pick, the Falcons selected the “best center in the draft” Peter Konz in the 2nd round. Come to find out he was pretty much the ONLY center in the draft. He lost his job and looked really terrible doing so last year. He was dinged with weak upper body strength coming out of Wisconsin and guess what? That’s exactly what reared it’s ugly head. Lamar Holmes struggles have already been documented. Bradie Ewing, a fullback, was taken in the 5th. The Falcons were in such luxury that they could afford to take a fullback with one of their only 3 picks in 5 rounds. He was cut a few months ago. Jonathan Massaquoi looks only the legit pick. Charles Mitchell played one year for the Falcons and Travian Robertson might as well be a ghost in Atlanta. If you want to further your depression, check out the 2010 draft: Weatherspoon, Peters, Johnson, Hawley, Meier, Franks, Schillinger.

9) Can the Falcons GM Actually Draft a Decent OL?

A Dimitroff OL (AJC)

“Don’t Count on It” or “Believe It when you See It” are two phrases that come to mind. Dimitroff’s OL: Baker (1st), Konz (2nd), Johnson (3rd), Holmes (3rd), Hawley (4th), Reynolds (5th), Andrew Jackson (7th). What a list! Maybe it’s unfair to use 20/20 hindsight, but in at least two instances, Dimitroff passed on a Pro Bowler (Duane Brown) for Baker and future Super Bowl winning guard (Kelechi Osemele) for Konz. He could of course correct that by taking Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, or maybe even Taylor Lewan, but……….. “Don’t Count on It!”

10) Will Dimitroff Finally Add Some More “Explosiveness” to the Offense?

Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers make up the only forms of offensive firepower that Dimitroff has brought to the Falcons offense in recent years. There’s been a few UDFA’s step up at receiver, namely Drew Davis and Darius Johnson and same goes for running back with Antone Smith before Mike Smith knee-capped him. Other than that, the Falcons haven’t added anything in terms of speed or explosiveness through the draft at all. There’s a ton of talent in the mid-rounds at running back, tight end, and receiver. It would be nice to bring in some fresh offensive talent for change.

Bonus Question

Will Atlanta’s General Manager Continue his “Reach” Streak?

Biggest Reach: Holmes, or.......... (AJC)

It’s almost as certain as Dimitroff trading away picks, and that’s reaching on a player at some point on the draft. Again, it should be said that a look at all GM’s, even the best ones, will miss on player’s all the time. But at least in terms of draft projections, TD always reaches for a player sooner or later, thinking he’s found a gem, but most of the times it’s just a reach. 2008: trading two second round picks to move up and get Sam Baker. 2009: Chris Owens in the 3rd round. At the time even the most well-researched fans said, “Who?” 2010: Even though not the most glaring of reaches, Joe Hawley, Kerry Meier, and Shann Schillinger were all considered to be taken well-after Dimitroff took them. It’s unfair to just cherry-pick the best that were available (Geno Atkins, Kam Chancellor, Greg Hardy), but there were several other mid-range guys that were on the board as well (Marshall Newhouse, Arthur Jones, Riley Cooper, Trindon Holliday).

2011: It ends and begins with Akeem Dent. Slotted as no higher than a 5th or 6th rounder, Dimitroff took Dent even though he had no 2nd round pick or 4th round pick due to Julio trade. He was so smart as able to replace Lofton a year in advance, even though the Falcons had the same coordinator in tow. Pretty much the entire 2012 draft was a reach: Konz, Holmes, Ewing. But the worst was Lamar Holmes. He had late-round project written all over him and sure enough, that’s what the Falcons got.

......Dent, or Others? (AJC)

Even though it’s only a year old, the Falcons took tight end Levine Toilolo in the 4th round. He was slotted as a unanimous 6th or 7th round pick. Hindsight’s 20/20, but 5th rounder Luke Willson (20 rec, 272 yds, 1 TD), 6th rounder Mychal Rivera (38 rec, 407 yds, 4 TDs) had way more production than Toilolo. Even 7th rounder Chris Gragg (5 rec, 52 yds) had almost the same production as Toilolo (5 rec, 55 yds, 2 TDs). This is not to say that Toilolo won’t be good, but it’s insane that he’s the only TE of note on the Falcons roster. They decided not to even get a vet TE for insurance.

1,271 comments Add your comment

RoddyRules

April 16th, 2014
1:32 am

1. Clowney
2. Mathews
3. Mack
4. Watkins
5. Robinson
6. TRADE!!!!

Dewey

April 16th, 2014
1:48 am

Great post, great questions, here’s my take..
1), dont believe its inevitable yet. 80%, maybe. Reading Texans are really starting to shine on Clowney. If that’s true, they wouldn’t trade away the chance to draft him. Would we then trade up to take Mack? Who knows what the spikey haired devil thinks.
2), If TD trades away the future again, don’t believe I’ll be able to watch the rest of draft. Seeing all those names going to other teams might be more than I can handle.
3), if TD stays put or moves back, and lets the draft come to him, we should end up with a very solid player with 1st pick. If we trade up, doesn’t matter who we get, would have to say entire draft is a bust.
4), once again, if TD let’s draft come to him, we should get a strong rotational player/possible starter in 3rd round. Unfortunately, this is where TD likes to reach or find hidden gems. Actually, he does this from the 3rd round through the end.
5), there is always a wild card in play, and his initials are TD. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if TD traded up to #2 to take Watkins.
6), my order for top 6 is really only 4. In order, Mack, Robinson, Mathews, Watkins. Don’t want Clowney at all, even if he falls to us, think #6, is too high for Barr, if Watkins falls to #6, think we have an excellent chip to orchestrate a trade down and amass more picks. But ultimately, would stay put and hope Mack falls to us.
7), believe Clinton-Dix and Pryor are only true starters for FS position, trading back and drafting one of them would insure starter at FS. Anyone from 2nd round back would have to earn job in training camp. Not to say someone couldn’t do it, but with MS at helm, would they realistically be given the chance?
8), if TD can get out of his own way, this should go down as his best draft. Potential starters could be had at OT, FS, OLB, and TE. That would be a mammoth draft.
9), if we get Mathews or Robinson, they’re immediately the best OL that TD has drafted. If we wait til 3rd, 4th round, given past history, I don’t like our chances for developing someone. Even though there are plenty of really good developmental OL available in middle rounds of this draft.
10), dont think TD should look to add explosiveness by selecting “explosive” players. It’s not a critical need for us right now. If we can get the O-line in shape, get our running game into the top 1/2 of the league, you can create explosiveness with creative play calling.
Bonus), BOOK IT! At some point in this draft, our spot will be coming up, I’ll be staring at the TV, looking at the players available, praying a certain player doesn’t get picked before our turn, then when TD makes our pick, I’ll let the expletives fly and have to google some guys name to find out something/anything about him.

Enjoyed it, is it May 8th yet?

RoddyRules

April 16th, 2014
2:05 am

Should be teams looking for their top choice QB, Mike Evans, or 3rd top OT Lewan. I like a trade back to #10 with Detroit and possibly pick up extra 2cnd rounder or 1 3rd and 1 4th. We could possibly still land Lewan.

Or the MacDaddy trade of my Dreams, Cleveland trades up to #6 with the Falcons for their franchise QB and in return Atlanta gets Cleveland’s 1st RD (#26), 2cnd round (#35), 3rd round (#71), and 3rd round (#83).

The Moron’s got to get at least 2 or 3 right if he has 6, count em, 6 out of the first 100 picks in this draft.

Mike from London

April 16th, 2014
2:57 am

Another great post D3, of the 10 questions question 10 is the most interesting for me, my favourite ever falcons player although short lived was Jerious Norwood (yes I know he had chicken legs but the guy was an explosive game changer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgVBrjrvwk8

The guy had so much potential but in my mind was never really used correctly or consistently, is there anyone in the draft like him, and if so if we acquire them will they now be used correctly?

jdiggitty

April 16th, 2014
2:58 am

RoddyRules, I would be drooling if we pulled off that trade. There’s just so much talent from mid 1st round to mid 2nd round this year. That’s the sweet spot of this draft in my opinion. We could literally find 6 starters if we had 6 of the top 83 picks.

In my opinion, Trufant was one of the best players to come out of last year’s draft, and we got him at #22. Hopefully TD learned something about how you don’t have to pick in the top 10 to get great talent, and more importantly great VALUE.

Kennycaine

April 16th, 2014
3:45 am

The greatest disaster of this regime has historically been the middle rounds. There are far too many Spencer Adkins/Robert James-type projects or reaches. Far too many times they have tried to show us how they could find a diamond in the rough only to fail miserably. This rodeo should have zero reaches on fourth to seventh round projects. As Eddie LeBaron believed, if you can’t see it on the field or on tape then there is no such thing as potential.

If a Lamar Holmes is a sixth round pick then pick him in that round, not waste a pick of what you hope to be. There is logic in confining choices to mostly combine players as they are there for a reason. Several eyes were upon them and they clearly were the best of the best. If you want to speculate then make the receiver at Whooizit college be a priority free agent and not a valuable draft choice.

That is the galling thing about this regime in that there is no restriction as to how many free agents can be brought in but they waste picks on obvious free agents and sidestep the best available talent left on the board.

This talent then seeks out the programs which are best poised to win right away and avoid those who are transitioning or rebuilding. In essence the Denvers, Seattles and New Englands of the NFL get the best of the priority free agent, which practically equate to additional 7th round picks. To draft prudently means that the Falcons get those better of those lesser players.

We all have watched the draft and wondered “Why are they drafting HIM when that guy started for (insert any major college program)? Or “who in the heck is HE?’ When they can prove to have the acumen of Seattle, John Schnieder and Pete Carroll and glean players from rounds 5 going forward, then they are justifying their titles and paychecks.

Kennycaine

April 16th, 2014
3:54 am

Keeping with the George Costanza theme, if they happen to get even five of the draft picks correct, we should all get together and have a “Festivus” celebration.

marko

April 16th, 2014
6:24 am

D3 rubbed a whole lot of salt into raw open wounds. Passing on Matthews, reaching for Holmes, entire drafts with virtually nothing to show for it. Trading away picks to secure players that likely would have fallen to him anyway.

Of all his countless malfunctions, trading away picks bothers me the worst. Tom Brady was a 6th round pick. Is there any way that New England would of left him exposed that long if they had any clue as to how good he would become. The truth is for all the pompous strutting front office guys do, the draft remains a very inexact science. Atlanta’s has the unique distinction of being the only team in the league to draft two Jamal Anderson’s. The one we picked 201st, of the 7th round, was a pretty special player. The other Jamaal was taken 8th overall. She didn’t play so well.

If Thomas had been running the draft, back in 94, we wouldn’t have drafted the original Dirty Bird. The pick would’ve been traded away in the 3rd round for the 1994 equivalent of Lamar Holmes.

marko

April 16th, 2014
6:51 am

Peter Konz, I loved the pick. I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe that TD had actually selected the highest valued player still on the boards. I study this draft nonsense. The Kipers of the world claimed he was a borderline 1st rounder. I thought we were extremely lucky to get him at the end of the second round. Just shows what the hell I know.

Rumors are little Peter has packed his suit case and moved into the weight room. I’m hoping for the best as I don’t enjoy being made to look like a total idiot.

waynester

April 16th, 2014
7:10 am

“Reaches”
Just because a draft site has a player going in the 7th doesn’t mean they won’t perform like a 1st rounder. As was noted earlier, this is as much an art as a science. As much as we dislike TD’s ‘misses’, all GMs ‘miss’ half the time and every team’s draft board is stacked differently. Do we want a GM who is just as stubborn in the opposite direction?.. Who trusts a sheet of paper more than his own eyes or that of the scouts?
If all your experience tells you Player A has all the attributes you’re looking for and is a fit for your needs is it really a “reach”?
I’m disappointed in the outcome with some of our draftees(about Half of them) but not with the methodology used to choose them–simply because we don’t know what criteria or the priority used to MAKE those choices. I suspect we’d still be disappointed even if we knew but I can’t fault Dimitroff for trusting himself and our talent evaluators that we trusted enough to hire in the first place. The last thing we need is a GM who lacks confidence–then it’s time to hire a new GM. Maybe that time is here–and if so–let the chips fall….

waynester

April 16th, 2014
7:20 am

Finally, Walter’s has a mock I don’t hate!
Robinson OT
Murphy DE
Buchanan S
Sims RB
S Henderson OT
I would weep for joy if it fell out this way….

Gman

April 16th, 2014
8:59 am

8th mystery of the world…Peria Jerry. WTF?

Grits Blitz

April 16th, 2014
9:06 am

Commish Goodell stated, “and with the 6th pick in the 2014 draft, Atlanta, having been on the clock…let’s time expire”.
(ONLY costs Falcons 1 first rounder! Thank goodness for no trade-up or we’d be paying multiple picks!)
Smitty states, “we’ll fix it”.
Arthur has that “gritty” look – on Skype. (Still honeymooning.)

Theatre SC Presents Hamlet

April 16th, 2014
9:14 am

[...] 5) The Upward Turn; 6) Recovery and Working Through; 7) Acceptance and Hope. Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) How to Handle Your Emotions: Anger, Depression, Fear, Grief, Rejection, Self-Wor $7.50End Date: [...]

WillieCoyote

April 16th, 2014
9:15 am

Regarding P. Jerry. He may have had some injury concerns in college but blowing out his knee the way he did his rookie year is hardly a product of being injury prone. It was an unfortunate injury that robbed him of a lot of his explosiveness. That being said, bringing him back on a vet minimum, unguaranteed contract wasn’t a bad move this offseason.

Decoud had some portion of his contract that was about to be guaranteed by a certain date. That is why he was cut when he was.

I’m not really in favor of trading up from 6. Trading up from 6 to (to three or four) ensure you get Mack, Robinson, or Matthews may not be terrible but trading up to 1 to get Clowney is giving up too much value in my opinion. When they traded up for Jones (a good move in my opinion) they were drafting in the 20’s so the value of that pick wasn’t near the value of this pick. If they stay at 6 it is highly possible, even likely, that Clowney, Robinson, and Mack will be gone. This makes a trade back from 6 more preferable to me. If Matthews is gone at 6, then it’s almost necessary to trade back at that point.

It would be great if they can get a day 1 starter at Safety in this draft. But if they don’t, they have some guys on the roster that can play the position and they will undoubtedly add a rookie to the position as well. Using a FS-by-committee approach is possible for them since teams use sub packages so much anyway. This will allow whoever they draft to get some snaps and develop at the same time. If someone wins the position outright, then even better. There will also be training camp cuts by other teams that could present an opportunity.

I think they’ve done well this offseason and will also do well in the draft.

As far as wild cards, I can see potential trade back scenarios where they target Lewan/Martin at Tackle, Dixon/Pryor at Safety, Ebron at TE, and/or Attaochu/Barr/Ford at Edge rusher. None of these guys will be around past the early 2nd round but any a trade that netted any two of these guys would be pretty strong.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

April 16th, 2014
9:17 am

TD, reaching in a draft? where’d you ever get that idea D3?! hahahahahaha….

Not only does he reach in the draft, even worst, IMHO, the guys he pick (reach for), never pan out…and are kept on the roster 2~3 years longer than they should be, see, K. Meier, S. Adkins, R. James, Sidbury etc…soon we’ll be adding Toilolo, Moponga, and a few others to this list, IMO.

IMO, the thing about finding gems in the 5th rounds and lower, are giving them chances to play. We can scream, criticize all day about the lack of player development in this organization, most players that are considered lower round (UDFA) gems in the league, gets an opportunity to show that they are, either benefiting from a first teamer getting injured, or having a coach with some balls, that makes a decision to bench a starter, because the lower round pick is actually better. Belichick, Carrol, etc…You have smart coaches recognize talent, willing to swallow their pride, irregardless of selecting and benching that 2nd, 3rd rounder (arrogance aside), and playing the better player for the benefit of the team.

There wouidn’t have been a Tom Brady, without a Drew Bledsoe. Belichick, should get some credit for tuning sh!t into sugar in most cases, when it comes to evaluating talent, hell, he can snatch a latenight stock-boy out of walmart, and turn him into a viable option on his team, don’t get it twisted though, if he knew of Tom Bradys true greatness before Bledsoes injury, he’d surely made him (Brady) his starting QB.

Case, in point: I don’t know who’s idea (wasn’t Smiths) it was to bench Osi, the last five games, or so, of last season? but all the chatter, as far as pass rush on the team is centered around Massaquio, he’s certainly not the second coming of Bruce Smith, but he got the OPPORTUNITY to start, showcase his worth, and talent as a pass rusher.

Thing about TD, imho, he wants to show the rest of the GM’s that he’s smarter by “reaching”, thing about that, the other GM’s show TD that they are more intelligent, when it comes to developing, and choosing picks 4, through 7 of the draft.

Grits Blitz

April 16th, 2014
9:33 am

WAYNESTER – I thought when Ross was running for “Boss” he referenced “that sucking/flushing sound” per our country making dumb deals w/ other countries.
Would trading away our picks – AGAIN – make a flushing sound?
Tired of TD blowing “gorilla dust” on my hard-earned ticket money…

paddy o

April 16th, 2014
9:42 am

D3- thought you said you were under the weather? this was a great – and sadly humorous post. TD is an enigma. But, he is LOUSY at judging line talent. You should get 3 useful players out of the draft.

paddy o

April 16th, 2014
9:48 am

TD does not analyze Line talent very well. A line men who can not bench 225 25 x plus, is going to struggle in the NFL. TD also has a horrendous habit of drafting guys who had an injury history in college – college does not have he injury causing hits that the NFL does -so, a guy with a college injury history will not suddenly become injury free in the NFL. Almost ALL of our 1st rd draftees – Baker, Jerry, Spoon, Brady – have had problems staying on the field. Baker & Jerry had that history in college.

paddy o

April 16th, 2014
9:49 am

DeCoud was cut because he was a safety who could not tackle.

paddy o

April 16th, 2014
9:50 am

I’d say Belichck and Carroll do the best jobs of coaching up folks in the NFL and turning pyrite into gold.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
9:51 am

Great post, Boss. Will throw a few nuggets out there for now with more detail to come later.

Questions….Questions…..Questions

Is it inevitable?

It probably is. But the REAL question will be is it worth it? Will what we give up be offset by what we obtain? The Tee Pee firmly says NO. But at some time in this draft, the Falcons are going to pull the trigger and move up. The MOST likely scenario, at least in the eyes of the Tee Pee, is that we will surrender our second round pick and probably a fourth rounder, as well as a pick to be determined in 2015, for a return to the latter half of the first round for Atlanta.

This move will be mindful of the Ryan/Baker draft of 2008 when the Atlanta Falcons, breaking in new rookie front office leadership, decided that it was critical to establish the new identity of the team in the post-Petrino/Vick era. Those moves were needed and deemed essential; that is not the case today. The Falcons are not as desperate to swing a deal today as many think they are.

If proper attention to detail is afforded, if the big board is accurately configured, if the scouting reports are true and thorough, there is considerable depth and value to be found in this team. This draft, if it is used appropriately, can serve as the foundation of the future. After all, the “here and now” mindset has now failed three years in a row. It is time to adjust and look long term.

As most visitors to the Cage know, and I am confident the OBCM members know, the Tee Pee is absolutely against any trades, either up or down in this draft. We, just as we were last year, are confident that there is EXTREME depth in this draft at positions of need. In defense of Thomas and his actions, he has been failed, in significant ways, by a coaching staff that has not proven the ability to take young players and move them to the next level in terms of their play.

Last season, we got extremely lucky and watched the “energy” and “desire” of two young undrafted free agents turn into the catalyst for a defensive renaissance. Let me be clear; we were not stellar by any means but those two young men allowed for the linebacker corps to be more effective than any time in the last three or four years.

The Tee Pee simply does not believe that there is a “game changer” in this draft class that is worth the move up for. Given the media knowing more about our approaches and schemes than apparently our own staff does, why would you do it? The problem is not acquiring talent for this team – what the real deal is in Atlanta is that the acquired talent has not effectively and consistently been applied to the game plan (or lack thereof).

How would the Tee Pee deal with the trade up?

The Tee Pee believes in keeping it real. There is absolutely going to be serious anger in play here if the Falcons decide to move up. There simply, in my humble opinion, no need for it. Again, there is not a single player out there worth giving up picks for this year and next.

If we retain all ten picks, we can draft for long term strategic value. Get the maximum number of keepers possible out of this draft OR be in a position to place a core of them on the practice squad where we would hope that we can finally, FINALLY, begin to develop our own talent.

With ten picks in play, we can easily, in what is still a rebuilding effort, find the talent to get at least three starters on the field possibly, and have up to six players making significant contributions this season.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
9:55 am

“TD does not analyze Line talent very well. A line men who can not bench 225 25 x plus, is going to struggle in the NFL.”

In my opinion, once again the failure is a result of discconnet and insufficient communications within the Branch. TD’s OL picks, most of them seen as value selections, have come from programs that were using a predominate zone blocking scheme.

As K Strick and I have advocated and tried to explain for several years now here, the ZBS does not place a premium on strength. And finding OL personnel for the scheme is fiscally feasible as the supply of said OL personnel is greater than the presence of the bigger, hulking OL staff of years past.

paddy o

April 16th, 2014
9:56 am

regarding TD’s love of damaged goods – even Julio had an injury history at Alabama. thus far, he has missed parts of 2 seasons. Kenny – I’m O line; your D – if Clowney is gone, who do you draft at #6 – with no movement up or down?

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
9:56 am

Almost ALL of our 1st rd draftees – Baker, Jerry, Spoon, Brady – have had problems staying on the field.

Include the ‘game changer” known as Julio Jones to the list as well.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:01 am

If you want to see why the moves up by this regime have been questionable, just take a look at the sacrifices.

Is one guy worth giving up eight slots in the draft? Is that same guy then worth trading a one, a three, a six, and and 2015 seventh for?

Is one guy worth giving up a one, two, two fours, and a seven four over two years?

Go back and look at the draft selections lost of the period from 2011 – 2013. And ask yourself, given the depth, was it worth it? Ask yourself, given the production of the acquired, were the moves worth it? Given the STILL persist issues with depth, was it worth it?

Three years after the initial move, are we a STRONGER, DEEPER team for the trade?

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:02 am

More to come later….see you on the other side.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:15 am

2009: Peria Jerry, William Moore, Chris Owens, Lawrence Sidbury, Garrett Reynolds, William Middleton, Spencer Adkins, Vance Walker.

Boss, you know you are my brother from another mother (Hi Mom) but this draft class ACTUALLY turned out better than most think. The issue here was that the idiots tasked with developing and integrating this talent failed miserably.

Adkins: He was what he was – a special teams ace that was nothing more than that.
Owens: A reliable nickel back that would never be able to sustain as a starting CB though he did start in relief for us.
Reynolds: A career right tackle that was a victim of the stupid cross training experiments as well as being out of scheme (another ZBS player forced into a power scheme)
Walker: Solid reserve that was effective at times; lost in the shuffle of trying to validate the Jerry pick and his “comeback”.
Sidbury: You got me here; have no damned clue why this guy never flourished.
Middleton: Jacksonville got 12 starts out of the guy from 2010 – 2012 and quality ST player out of him

Jerry: Still sick over this selection even though Ziggy did not live up to potential.

Moore: Mizzou overcame in this case.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

April 16th, 2014
10:20 am

SW, with all due respect, can’t exonerate, separate TD, from Smith as it relates to player development, IMO. TD, and Smith are equally in this thing together, Blank too.

Let us not forget, these guys are friends, buddy’s for crying out loud. They talk about this stuff on the golf course, at family gatherings, and so on…

The above mentioned, imho, is where the problem lies. No accountability, No professionalism between head coach and GM…and Owner. They choose to be friends first, organization second, IMO.

ps. nothing wrong with being friends.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:27 am

DeCoud was because of the cap; nothing more, nothing less. You do not release a man that has 78 starts over the last five years without a clear plan to replace him. His shortcomings, and some of them were major, in 2013, only gave them the “ability” to “sacrifice” him. The money made it easy to close the deal.

Are you REALLY going to tell me that there is more value in paying Jerry nearly one million to be a reserve for us than there was in forcing DeCoud to take a pay cut and adjust to the scheme that the great Nolan is trying to implement?

Mind you that DeCoud was pretty consistent under the BVG approach, one that we have all been critical of. Most of these “failed” defensive players did at least get to see some facet of action under the failed BVG experiment.

See the common thread here; failure to adjust the players to the “scheme” ; failure to develop the talent. That’s coaching (or the lack thereof), not the GM.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:32 am

Truth, you are right.

That is why I say the whole damned thing is a sham of the highest magnitude. There is no real vision in that front office and has not been one since the 2011 season. Lady Luck more than anything has been responsible for the rise of the Falcons.

We are no closer to being a complete team than were were when these dudes arrived. The defense is still a joke and the offense, while lethal at times, is still for the most part, one dimensional.

The success of the regime in terms of wins and playoff appearances have blinded many. 8-8 will be seen as a turnaround and a projection of things going in the right direction for this club.

If that is the measure of success, then hell, we are doomed right now.

Look across the NFC landscape. There is a quiet war going on. STL is coming; Arizona is coming.
Philadelphia is coming; Detroit could surprise. Tampa could surprise.

The challenges are increasing. Yet, we appear stuck on the status quo. We are close and we can get there sooner rather than later.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:35 am

Truth

Fair point.

Will take it one step further. The ENTIRE front office is now a private booth at the Greater Atlanta Country Club as well. Who there holds one another accountable?

Believe it or not, the only “outlier” is Rich McKay, the man most of us have been most critical of. But Rich’s legacy is secure more than anyone else in ATL other than AB.

Actually, Rich SECURED Arthur’s legacy or what he sees as his legacy. Rich acquired the Nest.

Arno

April 16th, 2014
10:38 am

Pioli traded a second rounder in 2009 for Matt Cassel. Other than that, he had no history of being trade happy with the Chiefs. For this reason, I expect he’ll bring a sobering effect to our draft process. I do not expect us to trade up.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:42 am

Arno

I pray you are correct with the sobering effect analysis. God knows we need the stability.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
10:52 am

Courtesy of Charlie Campbell (co-draft writer @ Walter Football):

I could live with this. I still think that Schrader is a hidden gem at either tackle position that if developed could be a premier steal long term.

Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

It’s been speculated that the Falcons want to move up for Jadeveon Clowney, but that’s no longer a possibility if the Texans just take him. Thus, if Houston does go with Clowney, it’s likely that Atlanta will just stay put at No. 6 and draft the best player available who makes sense for them.

The Falcons would prefer a pass-rusher like Clowney or Khalil Mack, but Greg Robinson is not a bad consolation prize. He would fill an immediate need at right tackle and would eventually move over the blind side, unless Mike Tice does a great job of coaching up Sam Baker, which could easily happen. Either way, Matt Ryan’s protection will improve tremendously.

Sounds like Charlie is in agreement with K Strick on the talents/abilities of Mike Tice and what he can do with this OL.

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 16th, 2014
10:59 am

D3 – Gag a maggot! Please stop with the “trade up” for Clowney doomsday garbage!

1) Is a trade up inevitable? NO NO NO [caveat: Trade up later but not at 6th pick]
Houston is bringing in Bortles for a workout / interview this week and they WILL draft a QB #1 if they like him or they will draft Clowney. There is intense pressure on them to take a QB #1 as they have no QB worthy of starting status. Ryan Fitzpatrick? Come on now!

Rams want Greg Robinson and if they trade out of #2 past the 4th pick Oakland will take him.

Jax is DESPERATE for a QB and I’m “feelin” Johnny Manziel here.

Cleveland? Sammy Watkins or QB.

Oakland? Khalil Mack or Jake Matthews.

Falcons? whoever is left – Matthews or Mack.
Just don’t see any trade up for Falcons this time. (fingers crossed) (knock on wood) (salt over the left shoulder) (rabbits foot) (horseshoe) (etc, etc, etc )

Top 6 on Falcons board?
#1 Greg Robinson
#2 Jake Matthews
#3 Khalil Mack
#4 Jadeveon Clowney
#5 trade back
#6 Anthony Barr

2) How will you deal with trade up? Won’t happen!!! (I’m in denial)

3) TD over / under with 1st Rd picks? OVER (stay positive!)

4) Will TD end 3rd Rd misery? Here’s where I’m thinkin’ trade up into 2nd giving up their 3rd – so yes there will be no 3rd Rd pick – thus no 3rd Rd misery this time.

*** What I’m seeing here is:

1st Rd: Jake Matthews / Khalil Mack
2nd Rd: best DT / OLB / OT depending on who they take in 1st (no double dipping here)
2nd Rd: trade up – FS (giving 3rd & 4th to move up)

5) Is there a wild card in play? Boring answer is No.

6) What’s my order of top 6?
Jake Matthews
Greg Robinson
Khalil Mack
Jadeveon Clowney
Sammy Watkins
Anthony Barr

Will Falcons find a starter ready Free Safety?
YES. By trading out of 3rd Rd into 2nd.
Jimmie Ward or Deone Bucannon

8) 2014 will be more like 2008 due to the deep draft and Falcons drafting early in each Rd.

90

Hamad Meander

April 16th, 2014
11:03 am

I have no problem with Greg Robinson. Has anyone considered what it would take to get back into the 1st round to catch a falling pass rusher like Anthony Barr? I’ve seen mocks with him dropping as far as 16th. We could EASILY give enough value to Dallas with next years 1st rounder and this years 2nd to get their 16th. That would give us an elite right offensive tackle AND an elite pass rusher in this years draft. I would be extremely excited to start the season with those two guys and I wouldn’t be as worried about the value we traded away vs. what it would take to get Clowney.

Robinson + Barr>Clowney

Steve Silverman

April 16th, 2014
11:06 am

Great article! Dimitriff talks like he know’s what he’s doing, but has yet to prove it! One more year of poor choices and Mr. Blank has to say good bye. It’s not about what is going to happen, but what has happened. Too many failures thus far.

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 16th, 2014
11:11 am

9) – Can Falcons draft decent OL? Matthews/ Robinson / Lewan – anything after that is dubious with these geniuses evaluating talent!

10) Will TD finally add more explosiveness to offense? My a small cloud of smoke – no explosiveness. (RB in 4th or 5th) (TE 4th or 5th) (WR? forget it!)

ILL-Logical

April 16th, 2014
11:20 am

Ye who enter here abandon all hope! That could be the byline for today’s story- a well written and thoughtful analysis of the heartbreak and pain side of the Falcons’ draft history. As well as the sentiment seemingly shared by a sizable majority ,judging by the extant comments.

In my opinion, there are at least 2 reasons why the 10 questions have generated the negative reactions. One, the record speaks for itself; the successes of the Dimitroff-Smith regime have been relative to the long and troubled history of the Falcons( and the other Atlanta professional teams). The elusive championship has not been obtained and so the frustration mounts. Two, the objective of professional sports is to provide entertainment ,via a first hand or media transmitted experience. In football the pie is so big a profit is assured even if the stadium is less than full. The key is generate ancillary revenue from merchandise sales and advertising . Therefore, a salable brand must be created and an entertaining product developed. The Falcons have not accomplished either task, so the owners continue to search, with mixed results, for the winning combination via the draft and free agency.
When -and if- the current management team figures out the calculus; these 10 questions won’t have to be asked in the same vein and fans will not feel like opening one.

Grits Blitz

April 16th, 2014
11:31 am

D3 – thanks for the post and “reminder” to be prepared for what is likely coming from TD if left unrestrained. (Believe ONLY Arthur’s intervention from trading away draft choices can “save the day”…and future!)

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 16th, 2014
11:32 am

RoddyRules (2:05 am 4/16/14) – Our objective is to “guess” what TD will do with this draft. You would trade back and draft these great guys in Rd 3, 4, 5 but with TD’s lack of “evaluation” ability in the 3rd Rd and on it would not be wise for HIM to trade back. Get the best player available at #6 and possibly trade up from 3rd back into the 2nd where odds are better he will get a decent player. Trading back will only increase the number of guys on the depth chart. I want at least THREE starters in this draft.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
11:34 am

Grits

If we are awaiting divine intervention from Arthur, then they may as well put the jerseys on sale today.

Grits Blitz

April 16th, 2014
11:35 am

ILL-Logical – good one, brother, “in the same vein and fans will not feel like opening one”! (Already drip-dried.) The truth and nothing but the truth. Preach it, pastor.

Grits Blitz

April 16th, 2014
11:39 am

Warrior- Is he gonna mind the store or just honeymoon through the draft?
Surely he’s got to know if the leader doesn’t set the tone, who will?
Just saying let’s get “grittier” and then leaving it all to TD is equated to a “wink and a nod”,
isn’t it?

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 16th, 2014
11:42 am

marko (6:25 am 4/16/14) – What do you expect from a guy that was recruited to be a WR and switched to DE? Leave it up to the Falcons to draft him.

While on that subject Barr was recruited as a RB and switched to DE… could be the next Jamaal Anderson (DE) for the Falcons?

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
11:43 am

Grits

Right now, he will have to focus his attention on the continued challenges to the Nest project. The digging continues and the courts could delay the project pending a review of the financing. That is where his focus has to be.

The toughness comments were pure BS; another calculated move aimed at settling restless fans who are seeing the light through exposed cracks.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
11:45 am

Preach, Flo. The front office excels, in the words of the musical group Kleeer, in licenses to dream.

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 16th, 2014
11:45 am

marko (6:51 am 4/16/14)- When a guy drops from being a 1st Rd projection to the lower part of the 2nd a lot of guys saw something the Falcons didn’t see. He’s was over rated.

Seminole Warrior

April 16th, 2014
11:46 am

Grits

Build it on a solid foundation and it will sustain.