2010 Falcons Draft Recap

There is a lot more to be said about this year’s Falcons draft; more than I can get on “paper” in this article. Let’s get started with some interesting news and notes from various outlets.

Leading things off is Falcons’ General Manager Thomas Dimitroff who seemed very confident and happy with the outcome of the draft in his press conference. Mr. Dimitroff has a plan and I believe he is hell-bent on following it to its conclusion. I certainly hope his approach turns Atlanta into a perennial playoff contender!

3rd Round Recap
With their two 3rd round picks, the Falcons sought the safety of the SEC, turning to Alabama for o-line help, and somewhat surprisingly Kentucky for d-line support.

3rd round 19 (83) – Corey Peters, DT, Kentucky
Peters likely won’t be a superstar, but he can be disruptive and effective. [Sporting New Today Apr-24-10]

Peters (6-3, 300) was a three-year starter at Kentucky. He had 49 tackles, including 11 for losses, and four sacks as a senior. He also had four sacks as a junior. [SportingNews]

——————–

3rd round 34 (98) – Mike Johnson, G, Alabama
compensatory pick
Johnson is your typical, steady NFL guard. There’s really nothing flashy about his game, but he just goes about his business in a powerful, workman-like fashion. [Sporting New Today Apr-24-10]

Johnson (6-5, 312) completed his career at Alabama by making 41 consecutive starts. He also played offensive tackle and center.

The Falcons chose Johnson, the No. 98 overall selection, with their first of two compensatory picks for losing free agents Michael Boley, Keith Brooking, Domonique Foxworth and Grady Jackson after the 2008 season. The Falcons also have a compensatory pick at the end of the fifth round.

“We are fired up he was there,” said Dimitroff of Johnson. “The fact he’s versatile, he’s a smart football player who was definitely a part of a winning program.” [SportingNews]

Of course every outlet, blog, and person commenting on the draft has an opinion, and many times the opinions vary drastically. I think Johnson will make an immediate impact as a key backup in the o-line rotation, and maybe challenge for a starting spot in a couple of years.

I am not as sure about Jackson, however the more I read about him the more I think Jackson can be coached up enough to make an impact. It’s the “coaching up” part that concerns me; I expect a 3rd round pick to play right away, and start within two years. I am not sure that I see either scenario in Jackson’s future. Obviously the Falcons do, or they would not have selected him with a 3rd round pick.

4rd Round Recap
Is Hawley really the anointed replacement for McClure? It seems kind of odd to me that the Falcons would go after a center outside of a big-boy conference.

The Falcons had a need in the middle of their line with Todd McClure aging, and they may have found a suitable replacement in UNLV C Joe Hawley. He may not look the part, but he is tough, scrappy and competitive and has the type of football temperament to play in the NFL a long time. He could also provide depth at guard, where he played as a senior. [Pro Football Weekly]

I have read a couple of articles that Matt Ryan’s BC center was available, which makes you wonder about a guy out of the Mountain West Conference. Then again, it is not like the ACC is a big-boy conference, but I digress.

5th Round Recap
In the 5th round the Falcons took two very unconventional, and dare I say unpopular (at least with the Falcons fan base) picks.

Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks could bring the most value to the Falcons as a return man. He looks the part and has an intriguing physical skill set, but too many inconsistencies showed up on tape in college. He could compete for a job as a No. 4 or No. 5 corner.

Kansas WR Kerry Meier, a converted quarterback, has the dependable hands to stick as a No. 4 or No. 5 possession receiver with the Falcons, and could bring added value in the locker room with strong intangibles. He should earn a roster spot and has a chance to contribute. [Pro Football Weekly]

I think we have to take a wait and see approach with Franks and Meier. It is obvious that Franks is going to be given every opportunity to win the starting kickoff return slot, but hopefully he can earn some time in the secondary rotation.

Meier is an athlete – he may not contribute much out of the gate, but if he develops into a possession slot receiver, Meier will be a steal in the 5th round.

6th Round Recap
Once you reach this deep into the draft, you are really looking at project players, or maybe guys with some sort of issue (injury, character, etc). In other words you are making a bet that you are smarter than the other GMs.

More chances on small-school and small-conference talent tends to come out of the late rounds. Montana S Shann Schillinger quickly came off the board to the Falcons and has the temperament to make the roster as a special-teams kamikaze. [Pro Football Weekly]

The Falcoholic had the most interesting analysis on Schillinger:

The team that has thumbed its nose at draft pundits for the last three days finished off the draft with its masterpiece, drafting Montana safety Shann Schillinger. You know how when people talk about a player being “scrappy” and “a real player,” they’re always talking about white guys? Yeah….Schillinger’s pretty much the epitome of that type of player.

We have a real need at backup safety, so clearly the team drafted Schillinger to fill that need. At 6 feet even and just about 200 pounds, he’s got average size, speed and tackling ability. Like college teammate Kroy Biermann, what he does have is an incredibly strong desire to destroy opposing players, great football instincts and excellent lateral agility. He projects as a long-term backup to William Moore at strong safety, as he’s a bit better against the run than he is against the pass.

I love it. Scrappy = white guy. LOL

Additional Thoughts
I started to call this section “Final Thoughts” however I just know that I am going to write some more on the topic, so let’s just wrap this article up some thoughts from Jeff Schultz (ajc.com).

Last month, they signed a legitimate cornerback (Dunta Robinson). This allowed the Falcons to cut back on its janitorial stuff because now somebody won’t have to run onto the field to sweep up the ashes after every opponent’s pass play.

Then came the draft. They needed an outside linebacker who could drop into coverage, help create some mayhem on the pass rush and, if at all possible, hit somebody. They found Sean Weatherspoon. They needed linemen on both sides of the ball. They took a defensive tackle and two guards with their next three picks. Think of a draft as you would an exam. Nobody is guaranteeing an A. But at least we know the Falcons studied the right chapters for the test.

At the very least, they will make the playoffs. If body parts don’t spontaneously combust as a year ago, they are capable of doing something special.

The Falcons’ 2010 draft was anything but sexy. The Falcons went after need, depth, versatility, and character guys. I am not sure how they will get a pass rush out of this group, but that may not matter if the secondary can contain and cover the opposition’s receivers, which in turn will allow the d-line to eventually get to the QB. Maybe that is all part of the “process” we are watch unfold? In fact, after a night to sleep and reflect on this year’s draft, I am convinced this is Mr. Dimitroff’s and Coach Mike Smith’s plan.

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