If you're anything like me, you've contracted a bout of draft fever. In a month or so, it'll be burning you up to the point where you have to sift through mock drafts, wailing like a banshee about why Patrick Robinson would be an upgrade at cornerback. The survival rate? Not good.
An enormous tip of the hat to the fine work being done by Daniel Cox at Atlanta Falcons Examiner and D. Orlando Ledbetter at the AJC, who have been reporting and speculating about what direction the Falcons might go in the 2010 draft while looking over Senior Bowl prospects. Because my Uncle Mime said mimicry is the finest form of flattery, I thought I'd take my own look at who is standing out during the Senior Bowl and might be considered a viable pick for the Atlanta Falcons. Definitely check out the work being done by Cox and Ledbetter to get a good sense of what's been going on.
Without further ado, here's my brain barrage:
T/G Ciron Black: Scouts have been commenting on his slow footwork, so it's not extremely likely Black will stick as a tackle. I Tweeted back and forth with Cox about this earlier in the week, saying I didn't believe we needed another potential right tackle, but guard is another story entirely. Black was an extremely productive college lineman, Harvey Dahl's status with the Falcons is up in the air and opinion on Justin Blalock's strength of play is sharply divided. If he's available in the third or fourth round, I could see the Falcons pulling the trigger on him as a high-potential prospect who would immediately bolster our depth at the position.
CBs Patrick Robinson and Perrish Cox: Ledbetter reported that the Falcons might have some interest in Cox, a big, physical corner who would join a roster that somewhat lacks both of those things. Robinson isn't quite as big, but he's a sure tackler whose pro production ought to exceed his college production, at least in the area of interceptions. There's a sharp drop-off after Joe Haden in terms of talent level, so the Falcons could potentially pursue a trade down a few spots to pick up extra selections and still get one of these two.
DE Carlos Dunlap: Character and motivation concerns are the only things that would keep the Falcons away from Dunlap. In most other regards, he's the logical pick for a Falcons team struggling year after year to generate a pass rush. His production level in college was high, he's physically gifted and by all accounts is coachable. I would hope that the Falcons would be able to handle the concerns. The only other issue I would have is the crowding on the depth chart, but it would be relatively easy to rotate him in on passing downs initially and see if he emerges as a full-time playmaker in year one. The Falcons could solve some of those issues and free up some cash if they can unload Chauncey Davis.
OLB Larry Hart: We can't possibly address all our needs in the first round, so I think outside linebacker should be addressed a little later on. Hart is an intriguing possibility, as a guy with terrific straightline speed and agility. He's a more refined prospect than Spencer Adkins, but he'd still be a project, someone who could dabble in special teams for a year and potentially take some snaps in Mike Peterson's spot in 2011. He can likely be had for a fourth round pick or later—though I'll admit I'm no Mel Kiper Jr.—so he could well be worth a look. Dekoda Watson out of Florida State is also a possibility, though he's likely to go earlier.
WRs Riley Cooper and Eric Decker: A pair of big receivers with sure hands and the build to make excellent blockers. With Harry Douglas healthy and Eric Weems on board, the Falcons don't need speedy, stretch-the-field type of guys so much as they need sure-handed receivers with some ups. Cooper and Decker could both provide terrific value in that regard and be groomed to eventually replace Michael Jenkins outside or in the slot, depending on where Douglas gets his playing time this season. My preference would be Decker early on, but we'll have to see how they distinguish themselves in the weeks ahead.
Those are a few guys that caught my eye, without going into the plethora of running backs both big-name and otherwise who the Falcons could potentially target. Give this list a look and tell me what you think, and suggest guys you think would be an excellent fit for the Falcons.