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2010 NFL Draft: Which Dawgs and Yellow Jackets Could Help the Falcons?

We've drafted at least one player from the state of Georgia for four straight years (D.J. Shockley, Martrez Milner, Thomas Brown, Vance Walker), and previous homegrown Falcons include Jessie Tuggle, Keith Brooking, and even that Ken Whisenhunt.

Will we draft local again in 2010? Let's run through this year's crop of local talent, ranked according to how I think they'd fit on the Falcons big board. Shouts to SB Nation's Dawg Sports, From the Rumble Seat, and Mocking the Draft for scouting contributions.

Round here it's common to see half the SEC and ACC represented on car flags and stickers in a single neighborhood, but Sundays should be red and black for everybody. And as we break bread, here's a slice we can all hold hands and sway over: Joe Cox will join Reggie Ball in never playing for the Falcons. Let's go:

Player Projected Notes SBNation Profiles
Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech DE Top 15

If All-American Derrick Morgan slips to 19th, then Morgan will be a Falcon. We can debate whether our biggest need is at DE, OLB, OL, or CB, but we can't pass up the guy who was basically the entire defensive line of a BCS bowl team.

Simple as that.

He also wears bow ties.

Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech WR Round 1-2

You think Ice focused too much on Rowdy and Gonzo last year? Try being Bay Bay* Thomas in the 'Reckbone offense. He caught 59% of the team's receptions. Talk about pressure -- if Thomas couldn't get open, there's no passing game. A classic gamebreaker who led the nation in yards per catch, he's been compared to Michael Irvin.

Here's where Mike Smith's ears really perk up: Thomas is a better blocker than many tight ends in the draft. He's basically spent every play for the past two years either run-blocking or running go routes intro octuple coverage. I expect him to become a Hines Ward/Muhsin Muhammad type who's known for his blocking.

Some are concerned about the, shall we say, extensively pruned route tree he ran at Tech, so maybe we'll add a year to his development in case he doesn't grasp "Turn left" and call him a first-year contributor, second- or third-year starter.

Thomas is the only state product I can see us drafting in the first round, and Mike Mayock agrees.

* Yes, nickname comes pre-installed. The convenience!

Rennie Curran, Georgia LB

Round 3-4

We already know the Falcons are eyeballing Curran. I, for one, think we might have be sitting on a real sweet value here. Reason with me, Spoon Goons; say we don't draft Sean Weatherspoon. As you realize life goes on, you'll note we still need OLB depth and a replacement for Mike Peterson.

Curran could be higher on the Falcons list than we realize. His drive, leadership, and smarts are beyond question, and he has the quickness to shed blocks. He's more of a run-first 'backer than an every-down defender, but that seems to be the current Falcon linebacker archetype anyway. Plus he'll certainly find a better defensive coordinator in Brian Van Gorder than he had in Willie Martinez.

The big knock on Curran? His size. He's only 5'11", 230. Now, I'm not saying, I'm just saying... but this local boy was 5'11", 230 also. (13th OLB)

Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech HB

Round 1-2

My Jonathan Dwyer jersey hangs in my closet alongside city legends like Calvin Johnson and Deion Sanders. So you'll excuse my sour face at having to rank Curran ahead of Diesel, but the Falcons are not drafting another power back.

Simply put: Michael Turner. And after locking up Bug Juice Norwood (Riding hard for this nickname. It'll grow on you!) and Jason Snelling, there's little chance we'll draft a halfback, especially one whose primary skill sets overlap with Turner's and Snelling's.

You've heard of system quarterbacks? There's a very large possibility that Dwyer is a system running back. He'll succeed in the NFL, but I'm skeptical that he's a true first-rounder. Among other concerns, he's barely pass blocked since high school and has weight issues. Yes, I'm trying to talk myself out of wanting Dwyer to stick around, why do you ask?

Geno Atkins, Georgia DT

Round 2-4

Atkins rose in mock drafts after dominating the Senior Bowl and banging out some stellar workouts. He's an explosive athlete who could back up Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry or even fill in as a change-of-pace edge rusher, but his production seems to depend somewhat on drawing a favorable matchup.

Comrade hasn't proved to be overly impressed by workouts/pre-draft bowls, so it's likely another team would take a shot at Atkins before the Falcons. However, there's really no such thing as too much defensive line depth.

Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech S

Round 2-3

While we aren't likely to draft a safety before round 4 or so, I'm giving Burnett the edge over Reshad Jones as Burnett could conceivably pitch in at cornerback. Some Tech fans have felt he's a CB at heart anyway. However, it's highly unlikely we'd spend a higher pick on a defensive back, especially one who primarily played a position resembling what you modern tackle football types tend to refer to as safety. (Yes, Tech's defense maintains the offense's "unusual positions" tradition.)

Still... a taller, athletic utility defensive back? If too many teams pass him up, we'll keep him in town.

Reshad Jones, Georgia S

Round 2-3

Same story as Dwyer. Safety isn't a position of need with Thomas DeCoud and William Moore in the outfield, and Jones is too stocky to convert to CB. Depth would be nice, but you don't draft for depth in rounds 2-3 when your team needs starters.

Unless Jones slips past round 3, there's no chance he's staying in-state. Plenty of other teams need an instant starter at safety.

Jeff Owens, Georgia DT

Round 3-6 The Smitty Way: a four-man pass rush complemented by run-stuffing linebackers. Thus it's hard to picture the Falcons spending an earlier pick on Owens, who's simply more of a clogger than a penetrator (...). As with everybody else, if Owens lingers into later rounds, things change.

Cord Howard, Georgia Tech G

Round 5-7

It's almost a certainty that we'll address our offensive line depth in this draft, and Howard is the state's best prospect.

He does have a run-blocking pedigree that might entice the SHALL WE SAY conservative Mike Mularkey.

Kade Weston, Georgia DT

Round 6-FA Kade Weston is gigantic (6'5", 320+) but not much of a dancer. Wouldn't be a surprising pickup if we haven't grabbed a DT earlier, as it'd be nice to have somebody immense who could really get out there and lean on some individuals.

Tommie Duhart, Valdosta State DT

Round 7-FA Duhart played for Pitt for two years, then left for Valdosta State after being suspended. This certainly suggests character issues, but he is almost as qualified as Weston when it comes to being enormous.

Ramon Harewood, Morehouse T

Round 7-FA How's this for a project: Harewood has been playing football for only four years. Standing 6'7", 360 yet nimble and coordinated enough to have played volleyball, cricket, and rugby, the big Barbadian could be a poor man's Michael Oher.