If Spiller’s there on April 22, should the Falcons draft him?

You tell me: How would the guy in blue look in red? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

You tell me: How would the guy in purple look in red? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

In his latest mock draft, Don Banks of SI.com still has the Falcons taking the same cornerback with the 19th pick in Round 1 – Kyle Wilson of Boise State. But that’s not the intriguing part. The intriguing part is the player Banks has slotted to go 20th overall.

C.J. Spiller, running back, Clemson.

In every draft, for every team, there’s a name that assumes outsize importance. (”Wouldn’t it be great if our team got that guy?”) For Falcons fans, Spiller is that name this time. He played up the road. He played against Georgia Tech every season. He made spectacular plays. His drafting would excite a constituency in a way no offensive tackle ever could. That said …

The Falcons have a great running back in Michael Turner and someone who approximates Spiller in Jerious Norwood. (Although Norwood has worked under three coaching staffs, none of which has been able to unlock his potential.) The pressing need is again on defense. But if Spiller’s available when the Falcons’ turn comes, could they say no?

Thomas Dimitroff claims every draft is need-based, but the Falcons’ offense wasn’t quite as good as advertised in 2009. Dimitroff said this week that “this draft isn’t going to be as lopsided” as last year’s, which was almost all defense, and that would indicate the Falcons are open to possibilities. If the possibility exists for you to snatch a Percy Harvin, don’t you have to try? (Minnesota chose Harvin with the 22nd overall pick in 2009; he was voted rookie of the year.)

And my answer is … I don’t know. I go back and forth on this one. Spiller was a great college player when healthy, but he wasn’t always healthy. (He had to leave the ACC title game because of turf toe.) He’s not an every-down back, but the Falcons don’t really need an every-down back because they have Turner. He’d be great on reverses, which Mike Mularkey loves to call, and on screens, which Mularkey almost never calls.

Could the Falcons pass on C.J. Spiller?

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So, as opposed to the usual format where I tell you what I think and you’re free to disagree (which any right-thinking person would do), I’m going to be agnostic this once and ask for your help. Please tell me why the Falcons should — or should not — draft Spiller if he’s on the board. I thank you in advance.

Oh, and one thing more: The team Banks has taking Spiller at No. 20 — Houston — actually might pick 19th. The Falcons and the Texans have their coin flip today at the combine in Indianapolis. So it’s possible the Falcons could miss on Spiller by the outcome of a toss. That would be a bummer. Or would it?

Update: The Falcons won the coin flip this morning. They have the 19th pick.

284 comments Add your comment

hello

February 26th, 2010
7:05 am

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
7:06 am

Hello is No. 1 this a.m. Congrats.

Indeed

February 26th, 2010
7:07 am

If Spiller falls to Atlanta at 19 (or 20, depending on the coin flip), I think the Falcons have to take him. He is a game-changing player who can score any time he runs, catches or returns the ball. He is a perfect change of pace RB for Turner, and he makes the Falcons a dangerous team on special teams.

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL draft, but Spiller looks like a much safer bet than any of the CBs, DEs or OLBs previously mentioned. It looks like an easy decision to make.

Tim

February 26th, 2010
7:09 am

Tim

February 26th, 2010
7:11 am

Spiller would be a good pick up for the falcons. Get another cb in free agency and go for a DE/OLB with 2nd pick. Spiller helps the offense in year one. Most CB’s don’t produce well as rookies….

lanier

February 26th, 2010
7:14 am

saw him at Clemons 3 times. yes yes yes

Doug

February 26th, 2010
7:16 am

We need a Stud on the defensive line. Our offense is good enough to win games our defense is not.

Vinny D

February 26th, 2010
7:25 am

It would make punt and kick returns a bit more exciting, thats for sure. Could he be that Devin Hester type who every time the ball gets in his hands, you know there is a chance for something big? If so, thats worth a 19th pick. Unless of course there is a Joe Haden or someone else who magically fell from the sky into our lap but the likeliness of that is well, unlikely.

Tailback U

February 26th, 2010
7:30 am

You simply don’t pass on rare talent unless there are character

problems that would disqualify. I remember when Peterson came

out in the draft wanting the Falcons to take him but doubting

that they would. I wonder to this day if the Vikings had not

taken him in front of them would they have drafted him.

Chef Mentuer

February 26th, 2010
7:40 am

FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST

Nativebird

February 26th, 2010
7:46 am

No. It’s the defense…uh…dude.

Kudzu

February 26th, 2010
7:49 am

We have Harry Douglas…he can do great things…if he stays healthy…which can be said of every player i guess…WE NEED a drop dead stout defense that will rank #1…

alan

February 26th, 2010
7:49 am

Defense improves the offense which we have and Matt is now a 3rd year QB with smarts, go defense and try to find a good WR addition.

Sleeze

February 26th, 2010
7:51 am

Change of pace running back, slot receiver, 3rd down back, punt returns, kick off returns, and a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball….and there are no character issue here. The Falcons offense suffered last year because Douglas was out and Norwood was either hurt or ineffective, hence there were no gamebreakers. If he’s there, Falcons HAVE to take him.

FBR

February 26th, 2010
7:52 am

Spiller made the technoids look silly(they weren’t the only ones). They would be crazy to pass on him.

John

February 26th, 2010
7:53 am

The Falcons need to load up on defensive line first, cornerbacks second, offensive linemen third, running backs fourth

Mike Jay

February 26th, 2010
7:54 am

Last time I checked ‘rare talent’ doens’t usually fall to the 20th pick in the draft.

I’m not sure the Falcons cand tie up that much money at the RB poosition. Turner makes a boat load of $. I believe he is the second highest paid player on the team. A first round pick, even at 19 is going to be paid very well. Douglas will be back and if you all recall he was pretty damn exiciting on special teams and seemed to be ablee to make something happen everytime he touches the ball.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
7:55 am

hell to the yes, draft D with the other 6 or 7 picks

not there yet

February 26th, 2010
7:56 am

Falcons are reasonably set at RB. This team is not good enough to start drafting “best available talent” and should still use the draft to address specific needs like CB.

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
7:56 am

All due respect to H. Douglas … but I’m not sure he has Spiller’s talent.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
7:59 am

Plus Douglas is a slot receiver only, average return guy. Spiller can handle returns, be the 3rd down back and spell Turner on first and second downs plus he can catch the ball. He would be used like Bush with the Saints.

come on

February 26th, 2010
8:00 am

i mean he sounds great but lets remember we already have a fast back, and cj has the same problem he is always hurt. the last thing we need to do is blow a first round pick on a always hurt back up running back. if we were talking about him in the 2nd or 3rd round snatch him up, but we can not blow a pick on some one who is always hurt

Dawg Consultant

February 26th, 2010
8:02 am

You absolutely should not take CJ if he is there with the Falcons pick. Now, first let me say that I am a Spiller fan. He is electric with the ball, and stayed 4 years and was a team leader. He is not, however a good value for the 19th or 20th pick in the draft. CJ is basically Reggie Bush lite. For the all hype coming out of USC Reggie Bush is basically a kick returner, who does not even start at running back.

Folks, my philosophy is simple. Draft projected starters with your 1st round picks and your coaches will stay employed and you will get to see a few playoff games. Draft guys who are going to make one big play ever other game at best, and you get what the Falcons have had throughout the years; only one back to back stretch of winning seasons.

Joseph

February 26th, 2010
8:03 am

I would much rather see us draft Dexter McCluster. He is every bit as dynamic as Spiller and much more durable. Also, we could get him in a later round and pick a corner or DE first.

smittydawg

February 26th, 2010
8:03 am

The top NFL offenses have these type of players namely the Vikings with Harvin and the Saints with Bush (both 1st rounders). I would put Spiller’s potential right up there with them. It makes it much harder for opposing defenses when this type of player is on the field and would open things up for Roddy White and Tony G.
Norwood just ain’t that guy…….take Spiller!

El Bravo

February 26th, 2010
8:03 am

MB, with our needs at defense, TE and WR it doesn’t seem wise to go after a RB. We can fill our second RB needs via free agency (Willie Parker comes to mind). Also, you can find solid RBs late in the draft (it is usually one of the deepest positions in the draft year in and year out)…

SimpleDawg

February 26th, 2010
8:04 am

An intriguing choice…..could be an impact player in the NFL a la Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin.

If the pass rushing defensive end you covet is gone at the pick and Spiller is there….take him. But only if you’re convinced that he is the missing piece to your offense.

TD will earn his money this year on draft day.

PJM

February 26th, 2010
8:06 am

Joseph is right – McCluster is every bit as good and gets picked later in the draft.

come on

February 26th, 2010
8:06 am

if we need a fast back up running back who can return kicks why not look at dexter mccluster out of ole miss later in the draft. that way we don’t lock first round money into a back up and use our first pick for a starting player that we need.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
8:08 am

Come on, always hurt? you must be describing our back up now, Norwood. Spiller missed 1 game in 4 years.

waynester

February 26th, 2010
8:10 am

I agree with you guys saying defense first round, but we really can’t rely on Norwood’s health anymore with the concussions being such a concern league-wide it may be harder to sign and trade him. Even if there are no takers for Jerious we still need that “difference maker” catching passes out of the backfield. He will still be available in the late 2nd/early3rd and his name is Dexter McCluster. No man-crush but this little guy could relly help us change-of-pace and as a returner. The big problem with this year’s draft is that I believe we’re going to have to do some wheelin’&dealin’ to get into a position to grab the few key pieces we need in the first few rounds. There’s great depth guys in the later rounds, but We’re going to have to move around some on the board to finish this team without going the more expensive FA route. Thanks Mark & AJC for the forum for those of us with a Falcons Jones this offseason!

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
8:11 am

Screw it, lets trade every pick we have to the Raiders of Seymore & Asomugha. Then we are assured of upgrading the D-line and CB.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
8:12 am

“for” not “of”

Brad

February 26th, 2010
8:15 am

A corner from Boise???HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! The guy has been covering AAA high school WRs and people think he can play pro, WHAT A JOKE!

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
8:15 am

As noted in the update above: The Falcons won the coin flip. They have the No. 19 pick.

Let's Go

February 26th, 2010
8:19 am

This is a very deep draft on the Defense side this year so unless there is a stud DE or one of the top 3 OT’s that drop down then taking him would not be that big of a deal. Norwood is good but it may be time to go another route. One the plus side Spiller will be your kickoff and punt returner and that may be the biggest advantage of drafting him.

All I'm Saying Is...

February 26th, 2010
8:19 am

Some teams draft the best available player irrespective of need and some teams use the draft to fill their holes. This will be another chance for TD to earn his money. I would ask whether Spiller is a unique talent, whether he is at least as good as Harvin or even the over-rated Reggie Bush? I didn’t seem him play much so I don’t rank him as high as those other two. Given the glaring weaknesses for the Falcons, I’d have to pass on C.J. and go with a stud d-lineman or CB.

LET’S GO FALCONS!

Ivan Vasilii Vladivostok, aka "Pasha dat a$$"

February 26th, 2010
8:20 am

Only if we trade Michael Turner to the Raiders for their 1st round pick and pick up Joe Haden…..but that aint gonna happen.

Ginger

February 26th, 2010
8:21 am

No….not unless He was going to be an every down back and the injury hx is something to consider. Falcons have to get better on defense if they want to be one of the elite teams. Fixing the pass defense is very important..& the pass defense problems are multifocal….Do we draft secondary guy or LB or DE player….Think that I would rate my weakest link order and then draft the best player when I chose from those positions…i.e…if corner is my weakest rated link and I have a number 1 corner that I really like available — I take him….if corner is my weakest, but I don’t have a true number 1 corner available and no one that I really like that good and I have a number 1 LB and it is my 2nd weakest link–then I take him. Hopefully, then I pick up a pretty good corner in third round since no 2nd rounder…..Evaluating talent is so important…with Spiller—would not use my number 1 because the defense is really in need of help and have Turner–so Spiller would have to be able to beat out Turner for me to pick him and not be able to draft defense until 3rd round…

teamguy

February 26th, 2010
8:21 am

I think Spiller is the type of player that would sell tickets. .very exciting. He did get hurt a good bit in college, but he was more than a situational player for Clemson. McCluster is a good player as well, but I don’t think he’ll have the impact that Spiller will. Plus, even though Spiller would occasionally get dinged up, he wouldn’t just quit. I’ve seen him get hurt, then be back on the field in the next few plays. In fact, I think the turf toe problem was one he dealt with most of the season last year.

Ginger

February 26th, 2010
8:22 am

Yeah…Dimitrioff…2 for 2 in coin flips

Ned Zeffer

February 26th, 2010
8:24 am

I trust Dimitroff to make the right pick. He’s the most capable GM we have ever had.

Blue Fender

February 26th, 2010
8:28 am

I think the Falcons need TD to start making the coin flip call when the birds play overtime games. Maybe we could get the ball first and win a few of those.

Mike Jay

February 26th, 2010
8:29 am

Mark, I hear you about H. Douglas but I still think the Falcons can’t afford to spend first round money at the RB postiion. Too many needs at OLB, DE/DT, CB, OL, WR. I’m fine with ddrafting a RB late but we you just can’t draft situational/backup players i nthe first round unless you are an elite team.

Shorty

February 26th, 2010
8:30 am

you can’t draft a DE/LB in the 2nd round because we traded that to KC for Tony Gonzalez. It depends on whether or not jerious norwood can stay healthy all year without getting hurt.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 26th, 2010
8:31 am

McCluster will be available in the 4th or 5th round for a reason. I like the idea of trading Turner to the Raiders. Maybe for Asomugha or their 1st Rd pick. Big backs are a dime a dozen with a life span of 4-5 years, trade him and pickup someone in the 3rd round like Dwyer, Best or the guy from Oregon.

Tailback U

February 26th, 2010
8:32 am

Mark
One more thing on my point is that there is not likely going to
be a clearcut no risk guy defensive player sitting there to be
taken ( Weatherspoon perhaps ) and its in that circumstance that
a an offensive player of Spiller’s ability has to be seriously
considered.

Ivan Vasilii Vladivostok, aka "Pasha dat a$$"

February 26th, 2010
8:37 am

Yeah, now that i think about it; trade Turner to the Raiders for 1st round pick, trade Norwood to get another 3rd round pick, combine those later round picks to get a 2nd rounder.

It just seems after the 4th round, the chances of making the team or staying with it after 1 season drop off dramatically. There are only so many Tom Bradys.

I'm Gumby, dammit!!

February 26th, 2010
8:37 am

35th?? As much as we need more help on defense, I say, if he’s still available (I would be shocked if he was), you have to take Spiller. From what I’ve seen, he’s better than Percy or that Kardashian kid, more like Chris Johnson good.

cosmos

February 26th, 2010
8:38 am

If Spiller is available at 19 you definitely take him. In fact, I would move up to take him a couple of slots earlier. He has Percy Harvey type ability and Norwood doesn’t seem to have the durability. He’s injured too often.