I've posted several mock drafts and imagined several thousand. After reviewing all the knowledge I've gained from researching players and Falcons personnel I have 1 FINAL proposal. It is shocking to say the least. I dedicate this to Finals week, since I should be studying hard for these exams! (That's never been me!)
Falcons trade down to #9/10 to the highest bidder and selects: The Best Player in the 2014 NFL Draft!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LNB9QmQht4 (For some odd reason I can't upload Youtube videos, gives me you can only upload Youtube video warning...)
That's right, AARON DONALD. I know you all want to see them take an OT or OLB. Yes the Falcons have DTs but none like Donald. None who will make it easier for OLBs to perform at high level. Not to mention Peters is an uncertainty, Jackson is a run stopper, Babs is old and nobody wants Jerry. However the Falcons have not one pass rushing DT. This addition is crucial and could benefit more than adding another OLB. The Falcons may miss out on the next great pass rusher but trading back for Geno Atkins 2.0 and an extra 2nd is more than enough consolation. Yes I think he is the best player in the draft and I even did an article on him: http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2014/3/9/5488896/is-aaron-donald-worth-a-falcons-1st-round-pick-to-you#
Next with their 1st 2nd round pick the Falcons select Calvin Pryor or Jimmie Ward or Deone Bucannon. Pryor is a possible 1st but it is not certain. They will chose the best of the 3, or they may even move up for Pryor. D-Led writes they do have a high interest and two starters (Spoon and WAR) want him as the starting FS.
With their second 2nd rnd pick obtained from the trade the Falcons select Ford or Crichton or Lawrence or Attaochu or Smith. Clearly we would all prefer Ford or Lawrence but they could easily go in the 1st. The point is there are number of prospects whom can be as good or maybe better than John Abraham. Ford in particular has spent ample time with staff, impressed at Senior Bowl (just like Donald), has great speed and is musically gifted. He appears to be a good fit for their defense. *This draft have a number of impressive pass rushers and the Falcons have a technological advantage with the force plate. Why was Clowney's test the only one leaked, why give away vital intel to the enemy if you want this player? I'm guessing they'll compare his test to others and use it to help gauge potential. I don't expect a trade up for a defensive end.
With their 3rd round selection: The Falcons select Tiny Richardson. He and Clowney have must see battles all over Youtube. While he didn't nullify Clowney, he performed admirably. After all he was facing a "Once in a Generation" talent (whatever that means....fairy tales)! While Tiny isn't the answer at LT just yet, he should be TOUGH competition for the RT position. This big fellow has a lot of strength and could also move inside to G barring injury or to replace Blalock on run downs in the event Holmes and Baker prove competent starters.
Rnd 4: Falcons can pick up a backup NT Justin Ellis and a rb Bishop Sankey? Joshua Harris? Archer?.
Positional Points to Ponder:
- DL: Spoon, Osi, Biermann, Bartu, Mass will all see time OLB in 3-4 sets. There isn't an immediate need at this position, so why use a 1st round selection? And yes in a 4-3 Donald is traditionally a DT but his speed allows him to perform as a 4-3 & 3-4 DE exceptionally. He also had a close bond with new DL coach Bryan Cox. I also expect the addition of Soliai to really transform this run defense as long as he doesn't get injured. Pairing him with Ford, Biermann, Babs and Donald on pass downs could make for a great pass rush.
- OL: Sam Baker will return healthy and has a huge contract so why draft a NFL ready OT to play his same position with so many needs? Why bring in Tice if your going to revamp the line? While Holmes was atrocious at LT, he may improve greatly at RT. Ryan Schraeder played decent with limited snaps and could be dark horse candidate to start. Yes Matthews or Robinson would be nice but if anything I bring back Tyson Clabo after the draft. He was solid for Atlanta for years and was missed to say the least. Yes he initially didn't perform well in Miami but he put it together towards the end. He could be added for veteran assurance and likely receive minimal compensation. But I don't expect Tiny to lose the starting spot to him. Heck maybe even Carimi can get his life together.
- S: Lowery is not going to be the starter, please don't expect this. He is more of a Dominique Franks replacement if anything. Fans complained about Decoud one year removed from a above average season where the entire defense (minus Trufant) struggled. They say he missed too many tackles, but Moore missed even more. He got burned in coverage, well so did Moore! I'm not saying he was better but clearly he wasn't as bad as portrayed. Especially considering the Falcons pass rush took a drastic dive in a year. Replacing Decoud in the 3rd round or later isn't going to fix the FS position. Honestly it is the #1 need on the team but somehow it is overlooked in the media. Not only do they need to take at least a 2nd rounder but Moore needs to play more like his 2012 self and less like a 2nd round rookie.
- RB: Yes the Falcons lost Jason Snelling! Yes Steven Jackson has nursed his wounds (emotionally and physically) nearly his entire Falcons tenure! But the Falcons do not need a RB in the 1st 3 rounds. Lets not count Steven Jackson out yet either, the guy was a touchdown machine after his injury. Maybe it was the touchdown drop that could have altered the season into a different reality. Maybe it was the way Smith electrified the game with his 1-2 touches a game. Whatever it was, I expect less carries but more goal line situations in his future. I don't object to them bringing in a running back btw, just not early.
- TE: The Falcons do not need a receiving TE, it is a luxury. It has never been written on the wall clearer than "we will replace Tony in other ways". Why is that TE is still being viewed as a top need when Mike Smith has said this in and more in interviews. They will likely put Hester, Douglas and Quizz up for more catches and use Bear to help keep Ryan up straight. Honestly this should have been the situation last season. Had this been the situation McClure may have still been around still getting snubbed from Pro-Bowls. (That's Falcons' fans fault by the way.) Tony was not worth all the drama, all the extra millions, all the paid vacations, etc. Can't even turn his paperwork in to retire an Atlanta Falcon. Makes me think he doesn't want too, maybe he wants to return to a team that is making a playoff run. Sounds like he just wants the glory without the guts it takes to get there. We get it, you wanted a Super Bowl but have the decency to earn it and not blow off camp and demand more than you're worth. I love Tony but he gave up 3 sacks and did nothing in the run blocking department. If Falcons can get 250+ yards and solid blocking out of Bear, this will be the steal of their Free Agency. And hopefully Toililo can emerge as a red-zone lightning rod for #2.