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Falcons Who Rose Up In 2010: Brent Grimes

With the season over, it's time to recognize those Falcons who took their game to a new level in 2010, beginning with the defense. Today, it's cornerback Brent Grimes.

In some ways, it's unfair to suggest that Brent Grimes took his game to another level this last season. After all, he picked one less pass in 2010 than he did in 2009, and everybody knows how important that particular stat is.

Except Grimes really did step up this season. The 23 pass deflections he managed were a team high, and despite teams being less willing to throw to the opposite side of the field thanks to Dunta Robinson's shiny reputation, he was consistently effective in coverage. He's also the most ridiculously athletic cornerback on the team, and he did it all on the cheap.

It's important to highlight Grimey because he's exactly the kind of player you want the Falcons to be nurturing. While not every undrafted free agent is going to turn into something special, Atlanta must grow its own talent. Grimes is the product of good scouting, smart player development and a healthy dose of black-and-red luck. Which is the best kind.

The team has to lock him up in the off-season. There's a few years left in Grimey's prime, and he's going to do great things before all is said and done. 2009 and 2010 are just the beginning.

Final Stat Line: 87 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions, 23 pass deflections