They’re as much a part of the NFL draft as Chris Berman’s forced jocularity and Mel Kiper’s gelled follicles — the post-draft grades, I mean. And here, without further ado, we go.
On CBSsports.com, Pete Prisco gives the Falcons a B-plus. He likes the Peria Jerry pick — hey, who didn’t? — and thinks defensive end Lawrence Sidbury could be a Round 4 sleeper. Prisco does, however, wonder about the choice of William Moore in Round 2.
Writing for USA Today, Larry Weisman bestows a solid B on the Birds. Weisman applauds the Tony Gonzalez trade, the selections of Jerry and Sidbury but wonders if third-rounder Chris Owens will be any more than a nickel back. And you’ll never guess what grade Clifton Brown of Sporting News Today assesses this Falcons’ draft class. Or how Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports rates this crop.
More Prisco? You got it. He called Jerry’s selection “a great pick,” likening him to Warren Sapp, and gave the choice itself a bright shiny A. He only awarded the Moore pick a gentlemen’s C because of doubts concerning his coverage. (Then again, Thomas Dimitroff didn’t grab Moore for that reason. The GM lauded Moore as “a downhill blow-you-up tackler.”)Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
For ESPN.com, Mel Kiper Jr. hands the Falcons still another B. (Link requires registration.) Mel says Moore “could be one of the steals of the draft.” But Todd McShay, Mel’s ESPN counterpart, calls Moore the Falcons’ worst pick (link requires registration), saying “he has too much bust potential for my liking.” The Falcons’ best pick per McShay? Sidbury.
On FoxSports.com, John Czarnecki issued a B-plus for this draft bunch, and he also lauded Jerry’s pass-rushing skills and called him “a perfect fit.” For its part, NFL.com hailed Moore as potentially “one of the draft’s biggest sleepers.”And after Day 1 of the draft, both ESPN.com and Sporting News Today identified Sidbury as one of the top players left on the board. ESPN had him ranked No. 4 (link requires registration) among the then-undrafted, while SNT had him 20th.
Analyzing the draft moves of the teams in the NFC south, Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com called Jerry’s selection the best move. The riskiest move, according to Yasinskas, was Tampa Bay’s choice of quarterback Josh Freeman. And Peter King of SI.com, who doesn’t offer a grade, believes the Falcons overpaid for Gonzalez but allows that Dimitroff “doesn’t care what you and I and the man in the moon I think.”
And here, from Gregg Rosenthal and Evan Silva of MSNBC.com — thanks to Randy and Mitch at WGST for the tip on this — is the obligatory contrarian grade of C-minus. Why C-minus? Because Moore wasn’t the best player available at No. 55. And also because “this draft was unimpressive on paper.” Harrumph.
Me, I’d give the Falcons an A. Drafting 24th in Round 1, needing defense by the boatload, they added seven defenders plus an offensive tackle — and traded for Gonzalez to boot. I don’t believe any team did more to better itself than the boys from Flowery Branch. But you know me. I’m just a big ol’ homer.
In ESPN.com’s pick-by-pick analysis of the Falcons’ draft (link requires registration), Moore is considered a possible “full-time starter” and Owens, it is believed, “could develop into a playmaker.” Sidbury, according to ESPN, “must develop physically” and even Jerry needs to develop lower-body strength because “he has problems holding his ground and working against double-teams.”
William Middleton, the fifth-round cornerback, has “ball skills” but also has “some tightness in his hips.” Garrett Reynolds, the fifth-round tackle, is possessed of “outstanding length” but is “heavy-footed.” Spencer Adkins, the sixth-round linebacker, “lacks instincts” but is “a quick-twitched athlete.” And seventh-rounder Vance Walker of Georgia Tech is “relentless at the point of attack” but “needs major work on his technique.”
A Tech man lacking in technique? Fancy that.
Back to Sidbury, whom I consider the most intriguing of all the new Falcons. Les Carpenter of the Washington Post notes that Sidbury has spent the past two years helping tutor high school kids in math and has also written a computer program to assess data from a football season. (Thanks to faithful correspondent Bill Norton, who like Sidbury is a Richmond Spider, for the linkage.)
Adkins’ selection by the Falcons kept his school — Miami, also known as “the U” — from being shut out in the draft for the first time since 1974, according to this Associated Press dispatch. So that’s something.
And if you saw any of the various press conferences from Flowery Branch over the weekend, doubtless you came away asking, “Has Mike Smith lost weight or what?” He has, you should know, dropped 38 pounds.
How? “It’s not quite Atkins [meaning the famous diet], but it’s like Atkins,” Smitty said. “No carbohydrates.”
It’s the second time, he allowed, that he has dropped several sizes in one offseason. “After we won the Super Bowl [with Baltimore], I got really big,” he said. “I lost 50 pounds after that, but I did it by working out really hard. Now I’m not working out.”
For SI.com, Don Banks writes that Detroit should essentially shelve Matthew Stafford for a while. I understand the reasoning, but I don’t think it’s practical. An 0-16 team spends between $41 and $78 million on one player, and now it isn’t going to play him? After Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco just took their teams to the playoffs as rookies? Um, no.
And, regarding Knowshon Moreno, Jeffri Chadia of ESPN.com rates him one of the 10 players who landed in the best spots. I’d agree. I think Knowshon will be terrific in Denver. Better than Stafford in Detroit, I say.
Perhaps you’ve wondered, with Dimitroff handling the general-managing and Arthur Blank performing the glad-handing, just what it is Rich McKay does these days. The weekend gave us our answer. He offers draft updates via Twitter. (He’s FalconsRMcKay, if you care to follow him.) Herewith, a weekend sampling: