A special Bradley’s Buzz: All-draft edition with T. Gonzalez!

Late-breaking update: The Falcons have a tight end!

And he isn’t Brandon Pettigrew. He’s Tony Gonzalez, the 10-time Pro Bowler. Per esteemed AJC colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter, the Falcons have acquired Gonzalez from Kansas City for a second-round draft pick in 2010.

This does two things: First, it enables the Falcons to go hog-wild in the pursuit of defense over the weekend, and second, it pretty well cements the bond between Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and his Kansas City counterpart Scott Pioli, who used to be Dimitroff’s boss in New England.

Me, I’d call it a win-win for the local club, which gets its tight end and still keeps all its picks in this draft. But maybe that’s just me.

“In Round 4, the Atlanta Falcons select …”

I said I wasn’t going to do it, but I did it anyway. And you know why I did it? For you, Buzz readers! So you’ll be able to feel clever come Sunday afternoon when the Falcons take the legendary Fenuki Tupou and your friends say, “Never heard of him,” and you get to say, “Oh, yeah, I know him. Offensive tackle from Oregon. Has nimble feet and a strong punch.”

After a lifetime of resistance, I broke down and became an ESPN.com Insider. I did it to access Todd McShay’s seven-round mock draft. I did it because I feel strongly about you folks and your Need To Know. I did it also because I think there’s a chance I’ll get reimbursed by the ol’ AJC for my $39.95. (If not, we’ll pass the online hat.)

To save you guys $39.95, here’s who McShay — I like to think of him as the thinking man’s Mel Kiper Jr. — has the Falcons taking:

  1. (24th pick overall) Brandon Pettigrew, tight end, Oklahoma State.
  2. (53rd pick) Jarron Gilbert, defensive tackle, San Jose State.
  3. (90th pick) Tyrone McKenzie, outside linebacker, South Florida.
  4. (125th pick) Fenuki Tupou, offensive tackle, Oregon.
  5. (138th pick) Louis Vasquez, guard, Texas Tech; (143rd pick) Jerraud Powers, cornerback, Auburn.
  6. (176th pick) Troy Nolan, safety, Arizona State.
  7. No selection.

Now, how many of those selections do I expect McShay to nail? Maybe one. Obviously, after the Gonzalez trade, the Pettigrew pick is now null and void. But that’s what happens at draft time. Things change.

Enough McShay! What does Mel say?

Also with my $39.95 comes access to Mel Kiper Jr.’s four-round mock. (Apparently nobody told Mel about Rounds 5, 6 and 7.) Like McShay, he had the Falcons taking Pettigrew in Round 1, but Kiper’s picks differ thereafter. In Round 2 he has them taking Sherrod Martin, a defensive back from Troy; in Round 3, Antoine Caldwell, a center from Alabama; in Round 4, Brandon Gibson, a wide receiver from Washington State.

And you know what? Even pre-Gonzalez, I didn’t get that progression at all. Three offensive players among the Falcons’ first four picks? Wasn’t happening. And absolutely won’t happen now.

Survey says (or, at least, said) …

The eight ESPN.com bloggers — one per division — did their collective mock, and NFC South correspondent Pat Yasinskas figures the Falcons will take Peria Jerry, a defensive tackle from Ole Miss, in Round 1.

Of the five NFL writers for CBSsports.com, Chad Reuter had Pettigrew going to the Falcons. Rob Rang and Michael Lombardi opt instead for the Missouri defensive tackle Evander (Ziggy) Hood, about whom Buzz has written already. Pete Prisco has them taking Darius Butler, a cornerback from Connecticut. Clark Judge goes with Larry English, a defensive end from Northern Illinois.

Of the four mock-drafters for NFL.com, three — Pat Kirwan, Charles Davis and esteemed former colleague Steve Wychehad the Falcons taking Pettigrew. Jamie Dukes, who isn’t a former colleague but who is a former Falcon, goes with Malcolm Jenkins, a cornerback from Ohio State.

Over at SI.com, Don Banks had the Falcons taking Pettigrew. And so did Peter King.

From deep inside the War Room at Sporting News comes the opinion that the Falcons will choose English.

And last but not least is Chris Steuber for FoxSports.com, who has the Falcons taking Vontae Davis, a cornerback from Illinois.

If you’re keeping score …

Pre-trade, that made eight votes for the Falcons taking Pettigrew, two for English, two for Ziggy, one for Jeria, one for Jenkins, one for Butler and one for Davis. That seemed a fairly heavy consensus for the 24th pick. But now the ol’ point is moot. Weird, huh?

(Late-breaking updates: Banks now has the Falcons taking Jerry. And Reuter has them taking Clay Matthews, the linebacker from Southern Cal.)

What about Stafford and Moreno? Huh? Huh?

After all the varying blather tracked by Buzz regarding the two Bulldogs these past seven months, a hard consensus has emerged. Stafford isn’t going to go No. 10 overall, as Don Banks forecast not so long ago. By unanimous vote of our 16 mocks, he’s going No. 1 to Detroit. (Given the reports that Stafford is close to a deal with the Lions, this wouldn’t exactly be Truman beating Dewey.)

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

But Mike Mayock of The NFL Network, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, again counseled the Lions not to draft Stafford. (For the 100th time, the same Mayock famously championed Matt Ryan a year ago.)

As for Moreno: He isn’t dropping from Round 1 altogether, as Banks had it three weeks ago. Off the strength of our many mocks, Moreno figures to be taken somewhere around the 20th pick, with his most probable destination being Philadelphia at No. 21.

And Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson? Uh, no such luck. Of the 16 mocks listed above, only two — Reuter’s and Dukes’ — place him in Round 1. Indeed, both McShay and Kiper have Johnson going after Mohamed Massaquoi, the Georgia wide receiver.

So that would make three Bulldogs being picked before any Jacket. Remind me again. Which team won when last they met?

Extra! Extra! Matt Ryan’s draft stock drops!

Just kidding. You’ll recall that Ryan was the No. 3 pick overall in the 2008 draft. In Michael Silver’s ultimate draft for Yahoo! Sports, in which any player alive is fair game, Ryan would be the fourth player taken. He’d go after Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady — in other words, behind only two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and the greatest receiver since Jerry Rice.

Oddly enough, Glenn Dorsey didn’t make Silver’s first round.

Oh, and in all the hysteria, I almost forgot: I’m blogging live Saturday!

I’ll be in Hall County doing the sitting-around-and-waiting-for-the-Falcons-to-pick thing, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ll share my sitting-around-and-waiting thoughts with y’all. We’ll get started around 3:30 p.m. Saturday — the draft begins at 4 — and we’ll kick things around until after the Falcons do something and I have to write (as opposed to live-blog).

Join me for all the fun and frolic that only an April afternoon in Flowery Branch can bring. And if things get dull, I’ll do my impressions of Dan Henning and Ken Herock. Talk about entertainment!

241 comments Add your comment


April 23rd, 2009
7:49 am

Dear Mr. MB–First? For the second time. My cup runneth. Your pal, Leland


April 23rd, 2009
7:50 am

Dear Mr. MB–no applause, please. Your pal, Leland


April 23rd, 2009
8:02 am

It will an interesting world for these AJC blogs if Stafford goes to Detroit and teams up with Johnson to become the next great QB/WR connection. I’m sure the GT & UGA bloggers would still be able to complain about the throws or the routes…

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
8:17 am

Applause? You’ve had me worried, young man. Where on earth have you been?


April 23rd, 2009
8:29 am

Given that newspapers (and newspaper jobs) are suffering from the proliferation of their formerly subscription-only content to free sites on the Web, I find it interesting that MB would choose to pilfer content from a subscription-only site and give it away for free. I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

On a separate note, Mel Kiper is clearly going down the Vitale / Madden highway from insightful analyst to clownish blowhard.


April 23rd, 2009
8:41 am

I, for one, would be greatly disappointed if the Falcons take at TE with the first pick. The defense has too many holes and you can pick up a good TE later in the draft. We need to go DT—you have to get the line of scrimmage solidified first and go from there.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
8:44 am

I understand your reservations, Eddie, and I have them, too. But I’ll attempt to delve deeper into what I think the Falcons are thinking — sorry to sound like Peter King — in a column that should appear this afternoon.

matt r

April 23rd, 2009
8:52 am

Wouldn’t a decision to take a TE be based largely on how a star TE fits into the Mularkey scheme? Based on last year it was a pretty WR-based offense with less than 10% of receptions going to TEs. Or maybe that was just due to the personnel?


April 23rd, 2009
8:56 am

Nice Buzz, MB. I still hope we take a DT on the order of Peria/Hood. I don;t really get the Pettigrew pick with all of our question marks on defense. Also, if I read between the lines when listening to TD (always a dangerous thing), I don’t get that TE is one of the “biggest” needs (in his mind).


April 23rd, 2009
9:00 am

With all of the holes on defense, I’ll throw a brick through my plasma if they draft a TE in the first round.

Poco Springfield

April 23rd, 2009
9:08 am

I just don’t see how Pettigrew makes the Falcons a better team. The problem wasn’t with the offense last year. This team needs playmakers at pretty much every defensive position. Taking an offensive player with the first pick makes no sense.

The Falcons can’t go wrong with taking the best DEFENSIVE player available.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
9:10 am

Through your plasma? I hope you mean your TV, CajDawg, not your IV.


April 23rd, 2009
9:10 am

I’ll be upset if we take Pettigrew. Very upset.


April 23rd, 2009
9:26 am

Take the best DT or Rush End available…..the front line makes everyone behind them better…or worse, depending on how they play. I’ll bet we can get a very good pass catching tight end with the 2nd round pick.

I understand that a tight end threat down the middle of the field makes the running game better, but we’ve got to pressure the passer and stop the run !!!!

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
9:26 am

Thanks, Gumbo. And you should know that Thomas Dimitroff says every pick should be “need-based.”


April 23rd, 2009
9:29 am

Man, we have to go defense. Can someone name the tight ends in Mularkey’s offense in Pitt? I can’t and I don’t think it is that big
of a deal to his offense. As an Auburn fan please don’t draft Powers.
He comes from the Muschamp school of not turning your head around which lets LSU, Georgia, and anyone else beat you on the final play.


April 23rd, 2009
9:30 am

I saw on SI.com that there was the possibilty that Atlanta could trade there #24 pick, 2nd and a 5th to KC for Tony G and Glen Dorsey. Have you heard or seen anything like that Mark Bradley?


April 23rd, 2009
9:31 am

I dont think we should pick a TE. Or a LB as some people predict. We should go DL, with ziggy or peria, or anyone quality in the secondary. Our D has so many holes, we have to get someone who can contribute early. So while we need a pass catching TE, I say D is more important

Whopper Dawg

April 23rd, 2009
9:33 am

I originally and until lately, while enamored with Pettigrew, was very much in favor of going D in at least the first three rounds, However, with all the buzz and reconsidering here is where I think TD and Smith are, I think they believe that our second and third year guys on D are more ready than the public thinks to step up and start in some spots . And for linebacker they are fairly comfortable with Wire and Peterson which are essentially additions. TE is also a severe need and a excellent one like Pettigrew would add a lot to our offense.

There are also rumors out there on a Chief trade involving Dorsey and Gonzales and a combination of Falcons picks and players.


April 23rd, 2009
9:36 am

I seriously hope the Falcons do not use their top pick for a tight end. Think defense!


April 23rd, 2009
9:48 am

With the first round pick Falcons please go defense! We can go offense in later rounds. By the way 3 UGa Players going before Tech players, when will Tech get some love. I guess beating you guys again this year will starting getting our players noticed.


April 23rd, 2009
9:52 am

Could you imagine how sick the Falcons Draft would look if Michael Johnson slid all the way to them @ #55?

I hope it happens.


April 23rd, 2009
9:54 am

MB, my friend, I think it will be either Jerry or Hood. Interior speed and the ability to put pressure on the QB mean more. We can still get a good tight end to nuture for the long term later (i.e, Shawn Nelson).

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
9:55 am

Daddys, I’ve found the latest SI.com report concerning Dorsey and included it in the links above. Thanks for the tip.


April 23rd, 2009
10:00 am

Would someone please recognize that Pettigrew is slow…..one of the slowest TEs available. Want a TE blocker, put another OL on the line like the Ravens and a few other teams did last year. Want a TE receiver, get one of those light weight guys in later rounds. Please don’t waste this pick on a TE!!! Our defense was pushed around the field by teams with mediocre offenses. We have huge needs at DT, OLB, Safety and Corner.


April 23rd, 2009
10:03 am

It’s funny, the comments here are almost carbon copies of people saying not to draft Matt Ryan last year…

I however, am not forming opinions this year… at least not publicly


April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

I have to give props to Chuck Oliver from 680 the fan on this draft logic.

Can you name one or more TE on the Atlanta Falcons? Yeah, Peele, Hartsock
Can you name one or more LB on the roster? Yeah, Peterson, Lofton, Wire
Now name a DT outside of Babineaux? Um, Kindal Moorehead

So, let me get this straight, you want to give Ryan more toys instead of plugging up a hole that was ranked in the low 20s defensively??

The kid out of South Carolina might be better than Pettigrew if he’d had someone better throwing to him.

I am so glad we rely on TD and Smitty to draft and not the Media.

mike addington

April 23rd, 2009
10:07 am

Michael Johnson is going to be a heck of player. Take him ASAP Falcons. HIs body type, although a little leaner, is a Richard Seymour type,and I don’t see what the problem people have with the guy. He was all over us in the UGA game. THe Falcons, I think, made a big mistake let Foxworth(y)? go. That dude was all over the field.


April 23rd, 2009
10:08 am

Enter your comments here


April 23rd, 2009
10:11 am

Bradley,don’t we still have Hartsock and another TE already on the roster? I understand the importance of the position but the “D” needs a fixin. We can also draft a late round TE, or wait till the dust settles and grab a free agent for a 1 yr deal.


April 23rd, 2009
10:13 am

An excellent blocking tight end with great hands (although slow-footed) sounds great to me, especially if it helps protect our franchise QB which I think is a good thing to do. It gives improved blocking and a player to drop off to.


April 23rd, 2009
10:15 am

How many nitwit comments will there be if we catch lightning in a bottle with Ryan and then don’t do all we can to protect him


April 23rd, 2009
10:19 am

How is Pettigrew possibly an improvement over Justin Peele? We should uphold our fine history of 1st round disasters, if we want to remain irrelevant! Pettigrew would insure our commitment to mediocrity.

Greg from Marietta

April 23rd, 2009
10:20 am

PLEASE! Thomas D. is not a fool and he will not draft a TE in the first round. He said in a recent interview that he plans to “Address Critical Needs First” and TE is not a critical need (a need, yes, a critical need, no). So a defensive player, either lineman or end, will be first with the outside chance of maybe a LB.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:24 am

I would agree with Greg about Dimitroff not being a fool. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t take Pettigrew.


April 23rd, 2009
10:33 am

Mr Bradley, you contradict yourself!

Steve Jones

April 23rd, 2009
10:34 am

Mel Kiper is so overrated! Dimitroff has said we’re going defense and yet Kiper has us picking offense in 3 of the first 4 rounds. Mark, what gives, why is Mel Kiper such a big deal? I’d like to see how accurate he’s been with his picks from the begining of his career at ESPN.
If we pick a tight end it had better be in the later rounds, I’ll be very upset if we dont go defense in rounds 1-4.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:38 am

Not necessarily, Mars. (At least not on this, I don’t think.)

And Steve, as I noted above, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Falcons take Pettigrew in Round 1, but I would be surprised if they didn’t load up on defense thereafter.


April 23rd, 2009
10:51 am

Picking a TE with our first pick is a waste of a pick. Might was well take a FB with our 2nd pick and solidify an overall $hitty draft. WE NEED MORE HELP ON DEFENSE!! REPEAT: WE NEED MORE HELP ON DEFENSE!! WE HAVE A LOT MORE HOLES TO FILL ON DEFENSE!!!! Matt Ryan already has a duel threat at RB and a go to receiver in Roddy White. Jenkins is a fine #2. He has enough weapons right now. Put some players on the other side of the ball!!!!!


April 23rd, 2009
10:54 am

Dimitroff and Smith have said many times how much they value the DT position and talk about builiding through the middle. I just don’t see us yaking Pettigrew if Hood or Jerry is available unless they know that Trey Lewis is absolutely healthy and ready to be a major contributor


April 23rd, 2009
10:56 am

Hey, Matt Millen called, he says he thinks the Falcons should draft a TE!!


April 23rd, 2009
11:00 am

Ugh! I was so much more optimistic last year. This nonsense about Pettigrew is ludicrous and disheartening.


April 23rd, 2009
11:01 am

Mark, thanks for taking the time to gather all this info! I would never pay to be an ESPN Insider, but at the same time I was really interested in what Kiper and McShay thought the Birds would do after Round 1. It’s nice to hear some names that will hopefully be this year’s equivalents of Chevis Jackson, Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas, etc.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
11:04 am

After further review, I might shoulda done it the other way around — written the column outlining what I think the Falcons are thinking first — but that wasn’t the way my schedule fell.

I swear, I’m writing it even as we speak. And I hope when you see it — and I hope very much that you do see it — it might shed a bit of wattage on this whole Pettigrew thing.


April 23rd, 2009
11:10 am

Good Afternoon Gentlemen. Great work as always MB. Going against the grain on this blog, because this pick is getting taken to the woodshed.

For Pettigrew as follows:

Pettigrew Defense #1
On the surface due to the overwhelming picks for the Falcons taking Pettigrew, a ton of people have been bringing up the smoke-screen possibility. It does seem that it may be a possibility, given that so many people are mocking ‘Grew for the Falcons (Mark Bradley’s article below: 8 pick ‘Grew, 2 Hood, 2 English, 1 Butler, 1 Jerry). Sometimes it may be a smokescreen, but sometimes its not. I think most ‘experts’ are picking Pettigrew b/c that’s a fairly logical range for him to be taken in and it addresses a need. For many fans who say its not a need, how many 3rd and longs & 4th and shorts did we fail to convert, and how many 11 – 18 yard field goals did were we forced to kick? I’m not saying ‘Grew will come in and be dominant, but he doesn’t HAVE TO. We will not depend on him to be our primary target, more like a 4th, 5th, or even 6th target. He will be asked to COMPLETE our OFF, not carry it. Hartsock was a great blocker, but not a receiver and Peele a good receiver, but that his presence tipped our hand to the DEF on our intentions.

Pettigrew Defense #2
The chants have been long and fast. “We Need Defense! We Need Defense!” And we do need defense, no mistaking, but as Ken Strick and others have pointed out many times, we have guys ready to step up and step in. Nicholas, Wire, Peterson, C.Davis, C.Jackson, DeCoud, A.Harris, Hutchins, Trey Lewis,Biermann, R.James(in some capacity). Not saying all will turn out to be great play-makers, but I bet at least half will. There are rounds than just the first. Certain picks I will be happy with if pass on ‘Grew, such as Clint Sintim, Larry English, Aaron Maybin, or even Connor Barwin, but why would we go with someone like Jerry or Hood when that would be a terrible complement to Babs? H—, even give me Ron Brace in the first over Hood or Jerry. If this class was stock-piled with DT top-end depth, I’m all for it. But that is not the case this year. There is a ton of middle-round depth for run-stuffing DT’s. If they’re so concerned about it, than take two of them: Roy Miller and Sammie Hill for instance. Or Terrance Taylor and Dorell Scott. TD, Smitty, and Co. know what they’re doing, and I’ll concede if they think Hood or Jerry is the best fit than I’m all for it.

“Well, Pettigrew’s not even that fast and can’t stretch the field!” Does he need to in our offense? Or does he just need to occupy the middle. Does Witten stretch the field, per se? Or is he one of the best in the business go-to guys on 3rd down and red-zone?

“The selection of first round TE’s is really mixed over the last 8 years.” Aren’t all positions? 2007 – Jamarcus Russell; 2008 – Matt Ryan for instance. I heard a caller talk about the failures of TE’s taken in the first. Well, you have to look at all variables, especially who was throwing them the ball?

2008-Dustin Keller (pure RCV TE, jury still out); Brett Favre
2007-Greg Olsen(much better w/Orton);1st Grossman, need I say more?
2006-Vernon Davis; Alex Smith, need I say more?
2006-Marcedes Lewis(better w/Garrard); 1st Leftwich, need I say more?
2005-Heath Miller (stud); Roethlisberger throwing the ball.
2004-Kellen Winslow(stud); Despite terrible QB’s
2004-Ben Watson(stud); No explanation necessary
2003-Dallas Clark(stud);Ditto from above

Again, I am not against us picking DEF first, just the right player. Hood and Jerry are not those players, IMVHO.


April 23rd, 2009
11:25 am

Both Kiper’s and McShay’s complete first round picks have been on the ESPN ticker.


April 23rd, 2009
11:26 am

Enter your comments here

Paul H

April 23rd, 2009
11:26 am

UGA offensive players are going ahead of any Tech DEFENSIVE player because regardless of what happened in that fluke in Athens, UGA’s offensive players still dominated Tech’s defense just like LSU and any other real team did.

Paul H

April 23rd, 2009
11:29 am

Besides, the reason UGA players get drafted ahead of Tech’s players is primarily based on the fact that since 1990, UGA dominates Tech. 14-4 to be exact. It’s kind of “understood” that UGA produces the better talent around here.


April 23rd, 2009
11:31 am

Mark, what you fail to really point out is that the one guy out of all these “experts” whose job it is to specifically know as much as there is to know about the Falcons (and the NFC South) is Pat Yazinskas.

And Patty Y is the one guy who has said from the beginning of all of this Mock Draft Nonsense that there is NO WAY that the Falcons pick Pettigrew for two reasons.

1. The Falcons obviously NEED defense, and Tom Dimitroff, like his teachers Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, is a DRAFT FOR NEED guy, not a draft slot guy.

2. The offense the Falcons run does not have enough plays for a pass-catching tight end to pay first round money to a guy who’ll only catch 30 passes a year in this offense. The Falcons can easily find a guy in the second round to fulfill this purpose.

Also, Pat was also the first guy to say that the whole Falcons trade a second round draft pick (which are more precious than gold to someone like Dimitroff) for someone old like Tony Gonzalez is ridiculous because it would be so contrary to “The Process” that Smith and Dimitroff have going.

Draft picks are worth WAY more that players who have a pretty definite expiration date, as Gonzalez does.

Mark, if you are going to pay heed what ANYONE has to say about the Falcons from any of the sports agencies that aren’t the AJC, then Pat Yazinskas is that guy.

Todd McShay, Mel Jr, and Mike Mayock know little to nothing.

Especially Mayock, who by the way LOVED Jamarcus Russell two years ago.

Mayock keeps on saying that Stafford should have been so much better as a college QB because he was “surrounded by so much talent,” and that’s an actual quote.

And that quote from Mayock tells me that 1. the guy hasn’t watched a Bulldog football game the last three years and 2. that maybe John Eason really was a bad as I always thought he was.

Stafford has been plagued 2 out of 3 years with a pieced-together offensive line and very inconsistent receivers, and a defense that always seems to let down in the biggest games.

Mayock is a moron.