Suddenly, the Atlanta Falcons have a defense.
After a 2009 NFL Draft that saw the team go defense early, often and with intent to kill, this isn't quite as bold a proclamation as it might initially seem. The Falcons wound up with a likely starting defensive tackle, a potential starting safety and outside linebacker/defensive end, and depth at several other positions. Peria Jerry and Lawrence Sidbury alone instantly upgrade a woeful pass rush, something that really hurt the Falcons last season. It's no stretch to imagine that the team will come up with a few big plays and quality stops there just were not possible in 2008.
For this Falcoholic, the draft went about as well as it possibly could have. William Middleton remains an odd pick considering the abundance of young talent at corner, but the rest of the draft hit needs aggressively and stuck closely to defense. The sole offensive pick was a mauling right tackle who I truly believe will be a starter at the NFL level, and we got him in the fifth round. The value was, at times, astounding. Once again, Comrade Dimitroff and his merry band of draftniks proved that flash is overrated.
So with the draft over, where does this leave us? Not every pick will make the team, but I'd be extremely surprised if more than one guy was cut by the end of training camp. With so many needs and so many talented rookies, you can bet there's going to be competition at least five defensive positions. The hardest part is waiting for everyone to sign and take the field, but I'm feeling so much optimism right now that I can wait.
Consider this an all-purpose discussion thread for the draft, incoming undrafted free agents and all other Falcons-related detritus. Enjoy!