This edition of the notebook is going to be heavily focused around this morning's article from D. Orlando Ledbetter at the AJC, who wrote down five startling observations he's made throughout the combine process. If DOL has nailed all of these, we could be looking at a very different draft than some of you might have anticipated.
You'll also be looking at not getting Julius Peppers, but I think we pretty much knew that.
Follow after the jump and I'll run down the four draft-related observations and weigh in on each.
DOL: No defensive ends in the first round
This is downright astonishing. Obviously, you can't trust an NFL GM further than you can shot put him, but the good Comrade apparently all but told Ledbetter that the team believes they'll be able to generate a quality pass rush with John Abraham, Kroy Biermann, Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux. So while it's great to hear the team is comfortable with what they have and a defensive end later in the draft is still likely, it'd be odd for them to cross off this possibility entirely this early. Not entirely sure I buy it.
Obviously, though, if they're not drafting along the line then they're probably looking at either linebacker or cornerback. My guess is corner, which I'll discuss more a little bit later on. If the best player on the board was a pass-rushing defensive end, though, I think you'll see serious consideration given to that player.
Middle of the line will be addressed
This shouldn't surprise anyone. Whether or not you believe the Falcons could use someone to push Justin Blalock—and I know many of you do not—Todd McClure is downright ancient for a center. The team does not have quality top-to-bottom depth along the offensive line and would be well-served to grab someone they believe can be a long-term starter at center. The problem, as always, is that we don't have a second round pick, so it might have to be a later round project in 2010.
Wide receiver will be drafted
This seems logical. This doesn't mean the Falcons are going to run out and spend a first, third or even fourth round pick on the position, but Brian Finneran is an injury risk and Marty Booker is not coming back. The team will want to address its depth here at some point or another in the draft, and I'd still prefer a possession-type receiver in the mid-to-late rounds.
Keep in mind that Harry Douglas, while hopefully fully healthy by training camp, can't be thought of as bulletproof until he gets out on the field and shows he's back in shape and can be counted on. We could use help just in case catastrophe strikes again.
Team will target bigger cornerbacks
I don't necessarily buy this one. DOL seems to be basing this off of the size of wide receivers in the NFC South and some uncited chatter/interviews at the combine, but Dimitroff has shown time and time again that size is not the primary factor he looks for in pursuing a cornerback. Perrish Cox is a possibility at 19, yes, but so is the smaller Kyle Wilson. If the team is serious about pursuing help at the position, I fully expect they'll go with the guy who has the best coverage skills, even if he's not 6'2".
Then again, I'm not the reporter.
Weigh in with your thoughts. I'll update this throughout the day if more big news comes down the pipeline.