This is the first in a series of articles examining players from the 2009 NFL Draft. The Falcoholic will also be putting together a retrospective on the 2009 season when the collective brain trust has sorted out just what happened this season. If the brain trust were a fund, it'd be three nickels and a 1967 penny. Next on our list, third-round cornerback Chris Owens.
While Peria Jerry and William Moore had huge expectations and got injured, Chris Owens had mild expectations and managed to exceed them. Oh, hype train. When will you get to station?
No, Owens didn't start all season. He didn't deliver an earth-shattering hit that popped Josh Freeman's head off his shoulders. He didn't pick twenty passes and win himself a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. He just quietly entered the lineup late in the year, piled up a few tackles, displayed some quality coverage skills and picked a couple passes. For a third round rookie on a team with a banged-up secondary, that's pretty good.
He's tough to grade in that regard, though. On one hand, he had limited playing time; but on the other hand, he took advantage of it. On one hand, he intercepted two passes; on the other hand, they were against two teams that looked utterly inept in the passing game for much of the season. He finished up the season with 29 tackles, 2 picks, 2 pass deflections and a fumble recovery; eight of those tackles and both interceptions were in the last two weeks of the season. I know it was caused by injuries, but considering I penned him in as a possible candidate for nickel back, looks like he exceed expectations.
Still, it looks like Owens has earned himself a chance to compete for a starting job in 2010. The Falcons almost certainly will draft another cornerback, but Brian Williams probably will not return, Chris Houston isn't guaranteed a starting spot and there's nobody outside Houston and Grimes that's guaranteed to give him much of a fight. He appears to have the instincts and athleticism to stick around long-term. That, combined with his contributions in 2009, makes me pretty optimistic about his future. I predict that Owens will be starting in 2010, pick 4-5 passes and prove to be a solid if not spectacular starting corner.
Anyone care to challenge that?
Final Draft Grade: B