Is it to early to really assess whether or not the Falcons could or should have made different choices in the 2013 NFL Draft? Obviously. But in the same spirit as the endless number of mock drafts this time of year, why not reverse-mock the 2013 draft? Come on, it'll be fun.
The Falcons moved up a few spots in the first round to select Desmond Trufant, a cornerback out of Washington. I liked the pick at the time, especially after Dunta Robinson was dropped and Brent Grimes was not re-signed by the Falcons. In retrospect, I love the pick. Trufant put together an extremely effective rookie season, and all indications are that he has a very bright NFL future.
Here's a fun thought, though. In retrospect, considering his performance, I think inside linebacker Kiko Alonso would have been worthy of a late first round pick. Atlanta could have stayed pat, taken Alonso, and kept their third round pick.
Atlanta selected Robert Alford, another cornerback. Alford still has some developing to do, but he has adjusted to the speed of the game nicely and looks to be poised to fulfill his potential. Now, Atlanta could have had controversial cornerback Tyrann Mathieu with this pick, and considering Mathieu's impressive rookie season, he would have filled the need and been an excellent choice.
Atlanta's third round pick went to the Rams in the trade up to get Desmond Trufant, but if they had retained the pick, it's actually unclear which players they might have gone for instead. A lot of the guys at positions of need who were available around the time Atlanta would have picked either didn't play last season or performed poorly. I fail to see an option that would ease the pain of not having Trufant, even with Kiko Alonso in the mix.
The Falcons selected defensive end Malliciah Goodman with their fourth round pick, and Goodman came along pretty nicely last season. I expect him to be a decent contributor for the Falcons. Atlanta also could have gone the Devin Taylor route here. Taylor went to the Lions as a late fifth round compensatory selection and played okay in limited snaps last season. I think I prefer Goodman, honestly.
The Falcons used a compensatory pick to select tight end Levine Toilolo. Toilolo didn't see a lot of targets last season, but certainly has potential. His ridiculous height can be a tremendous asset. Luke Willson, a tight end selected by Seattle in the mid-fifth round, might have been an intriguing prospect also, although me might have seemed like a bit of a reach at the point that Toilolo was selected.
The Falcons made a trade with the Bears to move up and select defensive end Stansley Maponga. The Bears used that pick to select right tackle Jordan Mills. At the time, Atlanta thought they were pretty set with Mike Johnson and Lamar Holmes prepared to compete for the starting right tackle spot. We all know how that turned out. If the Falcons had expected the way things transpired, they might have selected Mills, who had a pretty rough rookie season, so it's probably okay that they moved up and got Maponga instead.
This pick was also part of the trade to get Trufant, and there aren't many guys who stand out as being quality additions to the team in this round. The late rounds in any draft are always tricky, and with such a recent draft, a lot of these players aren't seeing a lot of playing time. At this point, it still seems like the move to get Trufant was the best move for the team at the time.
The Falcons had three compensatory picks in the seventh round and used them on safeties Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta, and quarterback Sean Renfree. Expectations for these guys aren't that high, particularly in their rookie year. Ishmael saw some special teams snaps and Motta filled in at free safety when Thomas DeCoud was benched and/or injured. Renfree spent the season on injured reserve after a season-ending injury in preseason.
Now, Atlanta could have gone nuts here and used two of these picks to select undrafted free agent standouts Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu, but those guys ended up on the roster anyway, so it doesn't matter. There aren't any guys who stand out as being significantly better options.
A big challenge in redoing this most recent draft is the fact that many drafted players have to develop before they're really NFL-ready. Early round guys are a little different and may see more playing time that first year, but the late rounds in particular are tough to analyze retrospectively at this point in these players' careers.
How do you feel about the success of the 2013 draft so far, and what choices would you have made differently on the Falcons' behalf?