This is the first in a series of articles examining players from the 2009 NFL Draft. The Falcoholic will also be putting together a retrospective on the 2009 season when the collective brain trust has sorted out just what happened this season. If the brain trust were a fund, it'd be three nickels and a 1967 penny. Next on our list, third-round cornerback Chris Owens.
No, Owens didn't start all season. He didn't deliver an earth-shattering hit that popped Josh Freeman's head off his shoulders. He didn't pick twenty passes and win himself a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. He just quietly entered the lineup late in the year, piled up a few tackles, displayed some quality coverage skills and picked a couple passes. For a third round rookie on a team with a banged-up secondary, that's pretty good.
He's tough to grade in that regard, though. On one hand, he had limited playing time; but on the other hand, he took advantage of it. On one hand, he intercepted two passes; on the other hand, they were against two teams that looked utterly inept in the passing game for much of the season. He finished up the season with 29 tackles, 2 picks, 2 pass deflections and a fumble recovery; eight of those tackles and both interceptions were in the last two weeks of the season. I know it was caused by injuries, but considering I penned him in as a possible candidate for nickel back, looks like he exceed expectations.
Still, it looks like Owens has earned himself a chance to compete for a starting job in 2010. The Falcons almost certainly will draft another cornerback, but Brian Williams probably will not return, Chris Houston isn't guaranteed a starting spot and there's nobody outside Houston and Grimes that's guaranteed to give him much of a fight. He appears to have the instincts and athleticism to stick around long-term. That, combined with his contributions in 2009, makes me pretty optimistic about his future. I predict that Owens will be starting in 2010, pick 4-5 passes and prove to be a solid if not spectacular starting corner.
Anyone care to challenge that?
Final Draft Grade: B