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The Last Five Years: 2001 Draft Retrospective

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Okay, I blatantly stole this idea from Mile High Report, who did a terrific job of summarizing the Broncos' last several drafts. What we're going to do is go to the way back machine and look at drafts from 2001-2005, trying to look at how those players have fared and what it means for our beloved Falcons as they go into the future. Why five years, you ask? Because you couldn't pick a much better draft to start with than 2001, which featured  some of the keys to our current strengths and weaknesses. Without further ado:

Round One: #1 pick...QB Michael Vick Hoo boy, and here it is. I remember jumping around quite a bit when I heard the pick, as Vick was quite simply the most freakishly athletic QB, I dunno, let's say ever. He had the arm, he had the legs, and the intagibles seemed sound enough. With the benefit of time, it's easier to see his many faults. Off the field problems, a lack of accuracy and the on-field brainfarts have all severely hampered his growth. His best season was inarguably 2002, when he threw for 16 TDs against 8 interceptions, completed 54.6% of his passes and rushed for 8 TDs. He's had more TDs and slightly better completion percentages, but that was the only year where it seemed like it came together. At the time it seemed like he was going to hit his stride and give us some good years, and now it seems unlikely at best. Unless he cleans up his image and plays like a different man under Pet Rhino, Vick has to be considered a bust for the Falcons. With his giant contract and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Tim "Throw-in" Dwight included in the trade for the pick, that would make him the most expensive mistake the team has ever made, and for our sakes I hope management doesn't find a way to make an even worse one.

Round Two: #35 pick....TE Alge Crumpler One of the Falcons' best draft picks of all time. I'm a completely unbiased source when it comes to Alge, but he's been everything Vick hasn't since arriving in Atlanta. He offers consistency, fire and results every year, with only the occasional bump in the road. He's one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the game and a fine blocker, but he's not nearly as well known as the pure catching ends like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. That's changing, of course, but unlike Vick, Crumpler has deserved each of his Pro Bowl berths. Unless the surgery doesn't clear up his nagging health issues, Crumpler will go down as a great tight end and the Falcons' best receiver over the last several years. Terrific pick.

Round Four: #99 pick...C/G Roberto Garza He was an above average player for the Falcons, and he's been pretty good for the Bears. A fine pick for the fourth round in an area of need, and because he was simply a pretty good lineman, I don't have much more to say about this pick. A good selection, certainly, and we could probably use him right now. Yeah, glad to see our philosophy managed to go from large to small and back to large again in so short a time. Poor Kynan Forney.

Round Four: #102 pick...OLB Matt Stewart A Vanderbilt product who had promising size and decent speed and parlayed it into a mediocre career. Aside from the Vanderbilt part, that describes a lot of players who have come through Atlanta lately. Stewart's currently on the Browns, where he provides the same kind of performance as he did with the Falcons. Considering it was a fourth round pick, it would've been nice to get someone with a little more talent. Aside from Ed Hartwell, however, every linebacker in that round ended up being either a backup or a bust. Oh well.

Round Five: #136 pick...WR Vinny Sutherland With exactly one regular season reception with the 49ers, Vinny Sutherland was a complete waste of a pick. I remember hearing about his speed and strength, but what he really displayed was his amazing ability to suck in a limited exposure to the NFL. With a career that spanned parts of two seasons, I sure as hell wish we had gotten Eddie Berlin, who at least did the occasional impersonation of a receiver who could get off the practice field. A throwaway pick for round five.

Round 6: #167 pick...DE Randy Garner I looked high and low, and apparently he never actually played a game. The dude had pretty good size and came out of a school (Arkansas) that sometimes produces talented ends, but the dude did absolutely nothing. Another pick accompanied by a loud flushing noise.

Round 7: #215 pick....S Corey Hall A seventh round safety from a small school, Hall continued the proud tradition of doing nothing and seeing no playing time during his very short career. His style of play reminds me a lot of Daren Stone, which is vaguely unsettling for those of us who like our late round draft picks to not do anything. But Hall simply couldn't beat out anyone on a relatively thin safety depth chart, and now lives on only in our hearts.

Round 7: #219 pick....G Kynan Forney An awesome value pick in the seventh round, Forney's been a good guard for the team since he was drafted. He weathered the changeover from bulky to small and back again, and with any luck he'll still be on the line next year. Every now and then a team will get lucky and strike gold with their 7th round picks, and here the Falcons did exceptionally well. Forney is clearly better than the three schlubby picks before him, and short of additional injuries he should continue to have a solid NFL career. Can't argue with this pick at all.

Round 7: #226 pick...DE Ronald Flemons A Texas A&M guy with prototypical size, Flemons looked like a pretty good project at a reasonable price. He obviously spent too much time hanging out  with Garner, however, as he proceeded to make very little impact in the NFL. He got a couple of tackles over the course of three seasons, but other than that Flemons was about as disappointing as your average 7th round pick. Not so good.

Round 7: #236 pick...WR Quentin McCord The best thing you can say about McCord is that he hung in there for four years and occasionally caught a ball thrown his way. The worst thing you can say about him is that he made me angry. You see, I thought McCord would be a steal for us at the bottom of the seventh. I pictured him as one of those guys who rises through the ranks, as I saw him as one of those little elusive guys with soft hands. As it turns out, he was just little with a side of not very good. He finished up his career with the Oakland Raiders, and the Falcons finished up their draft with yet another performer who turned out to be disappointing.

Grade: Vick has been largely disappointing, as was everyone else in this crummy draft except Garza, Forney and Crumpler. If you don't expect any value from the later rounds, you could get away with grading this one reasonably high. Since our first overall pick wasn't great and we only got two long-term starters out of it, let's go with a C-.

What do you think?