Welcome, Sean Weatherspoon! You're a member of the most awesome team in the NFL. Hope you enjoy it.
As with all Falcon first round picks, this one carries a little bit of controversy. Despite assurances from SBN's Mizzou blogger, some are concerned his mouth will get him in trouble. He may not be the best pass coverage linebacker in the draft. There's probably other issues I can't think of.
Yet I can't help but feel like Thomas Dimitroff has done it again. The Falcons went hard for Weatherspoon because they saw his physical talent—an excellent 40 time for a linebacker paired with an impressed 34 reps in the weight room—paired with his football intelligence. They saw a guy who could be a vocal leader on a defense that lacks one. Most importantly of all, they saw a player whose well-rounded skill set made him the perfect choice to take over for Mike Peterson at outside linebacker, arguably the weakest position on the entire roster. Knowing all that, the team snapped up Weatherspoon, and they plan to make him an integral piece of their defense.
I'm a big believer in 'Spoon's talent, and I've been on board with his selection for a long time now. Dimitroff and Mike Smith speak glowingly of him and acknowledge that they were locked into him, and I believe in the brain trust here. I think Weatherspoon's going to be an immediate starter outside and that he's going to light a fire under the defense to play with the same passion, intensity and yes, swagger that he does.
Will he be great right away? It's way too early to say that, and I'm going to shy away from doing so for now. Do I think he'll be a quality starter in this league for a long time? You bet your ass I do.
Follow after the jump to see what Dimitroff himself and Falcon-centric writers have to say about the pick.
Thomas Dimitroff: We’re very excited for the opportunity to take an outside linebacker who is going to ramp up our speed, our enthusiasm (and) our athleticism. In our minds he’s a guy that’s going to be a four-down player for us.
Mike Smith: He’s an urgent, passionate football player that can play both (outside) linebackers in our scheme.
Adam Schultz: Spoon is a really good pick; the inevitable most would say. Great pass rusher, has good cover skills. Can't wait to see him alongside Lofton. He WILL be a starter earlier in the season. My words, mark them.
Jason Kirk: There'll be time for X's and O's later (if you're up for busting down some film, J. Mike's got you covered), but right now let's talk feelings. For the first time in ten years, your Falcons first round pick was exactly who you wanted and expected. How do you feel about that? Let's talk change. Remember when we drafted T.J. Duckett days after signing Warrick Dunn? Remember how out of touch with reality the front office seemed at that point? It's hard to get used to, but those are the old Falcons.
The new Falcons made like Hulk Hogan and pointed at their mark months ago, conspicuous and blatant in front of God and everyone, and then they stared it down until they got it. Dave and Adam and I have made fun of you guys for locking in on Spoon from day one, but it's hard not to feel the buzz right now. Sorry for the rosy perspective, but right now it's hard to remember exactly what it was that made me feel hesitant about this guy.
We do know this -- Georgia's NFL team just got a whole lot more Atlanta:
There have been character concerns, but come on now. This is the NFL Draft. If the TV show Planet Earth was draft-eligible, it would have character concerns despite the fact that it doesn't even have any characters. How concerned are Mizzou Tiger fans about Spoon's character?
We can hem and haw about pick value LOL, but the bottom line is we got our guy. In five years, if Spoon's an All-Pro, I don't think we'll be too worried about whether we drafted him seven picks too early or not. If I may get homertastic, the fact that Comrade drafted Spoon in the first round is just about all I need to know. Comrade's track record speaks for itself.
We're getting a good linebacker, a competitor, a leader, and a guy who out-and-out loves everything about football. This is still Curtis Lofton's defense, but it just got jacked into 100 tons of raw and uncut swag. Our defense already had heart, soul, and talent, and it just got an identity makeover. Get your Sharpies ready:
You know what? I ain't even apologizing any more for feeling excited. This ain't the Matrix, son -- there is a Spoon.
D. Orlando Ledbetter: Weatherspoon played in the Big 12 and faced a lot of pass-happy spread offenses. His coverage skills are solid.
Daniel Cox: Weatherspoon posseses outstanding instincts and plays the game quickly. Blessed with a high football IQ, he returned two of this three interceptions as a junior for touchdowns.
Knox Bardeen: The Falcons see Weatherspoon as an outside linebacker, probably on the weakside, but that determination has not been made as of yet. What the Falcons do know, after many meetings with Weatherspoon, is that they are getting an intense athlete who always has his motor running.
Sean Weatherspoon himself: I'm so excited to be a Falcon! !!!
We'll have much more about Weatherspoon in the days and weeks ahead, of course. For now, discuss our first round draft pick and gird yourself for Day Two of the draft tomorrow evening. We'll be right there with you.