It's here! It's here! Draft day is FINALLY here! After months of aimless prognostication, we can stop talking about Roddy's reckless tweeting.
It's like Christmas. Except Aunt Edna's cat food-infused jello isn't on the menu. The Comrade hasn't slept since February, Smitty ate a bowl of razorblades for breakfast, and AB shaved with a machete this morning. No prisoners will be taken.
Consider this thread ground zero for all draft-related discussion today. And to guide your discussion, you will find the the latest draft projections below.
Mel Kiper's final mock draft (no link because access requires Insider subscription):
The Falcons are a solid team without a true glaring need, but a 4-3 defensive end with the ability to rush the passer and great awareness and discipline against the run can help them in 2011. That's [Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn] in a nutshell. His coaches rave, as do players that have had to face him. He has good size, a reputation for relentlessness and the respect of his peers. Atlanta could look for a wideout to diversify an attack that went too often in one direction last year, but Clayborn is the better value here.
Todd McShay's final mock draft (no link because access requires Insider subscription):
[Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn is] a very solid player with good athleticism for his size (6-foot-3, 281 pounds) and the kind of motor you want when betting on a risk/reward prospect late in the first round.
Charles Odum of the Boston Globe:
[Thomas Dimitroff] says it is more important than ever to make sure this is "like any normal draft" for the Falcons, who are coming off a 13-win season.
Dimitroff says he's looking for explosive players. Defensive end is a top need. The Falcons might look for a wide receiver early in the draft.
27. Falcons: Akeem Ayers, DE/LB, UCLA. He had 14 sacks and 29.5 tackles for losses over his career.
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami, 5-10, 191: He started all 13 games for the Hurricanes last season and led the team with 10 pass breakups. The Falcons have heavily scouted Harris and spent some time with him in Miami on March 30.Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland, 6-1, 205: He might be a slight reach at 27, but the Falcons are looking to add some big-play threats in this draft, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine. He visited the Falcons earlier this month.
Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB, UCLA, 6-2 1/2, 253: He was a first-team All-Pac-10 pick last season. He recorded 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions. He had 14 sacks and 29.5 tackles for losses in his collegiate career.
Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona, 6-2, 262: He started 34 games for the Wildcats. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 30 times at the NFL scouting combine.
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State, 6-5, 319: After taking over as a sophomore, he became a fixture at left tackle for the Bulldogs. He has good feet and is considered a left tackle prospect, but could start his career on the right side.
SportingNews "NFC South team reports"
The Falcons need to address defensive end, offensive tackle, linebacker, wide receiver and running back. UCLA LB Akeem Ayers could be available late in the first round. He is a scheme fit as a weakside linebacker who could provide some power as an edge rusher. Other possibilities include Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan, Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward and Georgia DE/OLB Justin Houston.