As the 2013 NFL Draft drew to a close, the Atlanta Falcons patiently waited to make their final three selections of Saturday evening. The seventh round crept along, each pick seemingly taking longer to be announced than the one prior. Atlanta's turn finally arrived. The No. 243 pick was in, the name popped up the screen. "Kemal Ishmael, safety, UCF." Wait, who?
I'll go ahead and admit I'm not a draft guru. I know a fair share of the players drafted last weekend simply from watching college football often and doing a bit of research leading up to the event. But I don't know who Kemal Ishmael is. I saw the name in passing on draft guides. That was the extent of my knowledge regarding his skills.
Social media dissented in its reception to the newest member of the Falcons. That's an accurate depiction to the way every pick was perceived, honestly. The lesser-known players, though, created backlash from the fanbase. "Why didn't they take [enter name here] from the SEC? C'mon, Falcons." Fans aren't happy with some of Atlanta's picks because they aren't "sexy picks." Fans hate what they don't know.
Marcus Lattimore was a popular name going into the fourth round. The Falcons were sitting with two picks ahead. Why not take a shot at him? Lattimore is popular because ESPN showcased his games/highlights often. We've seen plenty of his tape just from keeping up with football. Unfortunately, front offices don't draft players based on how coveted they are by the viewers.
We're currently in the midst of the most successful period in franchise history. That's not my opinion. It's a fact. The Falcons went to the playoffs in four of the past five seasons under the current regime. When was the last time in history this team made back-to-back postseason appearances? Oh, never? Yeah, I suppose that's a good point, but, "BOO YOU DIDN'T TAKE JESSE WILLIAMS THOMAS DIMITROFF YOU'RE AWFUL DESPITE YOUR PROVEN TRACK RECORD AND SUCCESS." Not every pick can come from Alabama or UGA.
Sure, the Falcons have missed badly on some picks in recent years. Is any franchise perfect, though? Doesn't every team miss here and there? Except for the Raiders. They miss like every time. Bill Polian said during this year's draft that teams/scouts aim to be right on 54 percent (I believe that was the figure, feel free to correct me) of their selections. In the industry, they know hitting home runs with every pick isn't feasible. Fans should know that too.
Look at 2011. Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rodgers and Matt Bosher were all excellent picks in hindsight. Akeem Dent was OK last year, and Cliff Matthews is at least growing on the coaching staff. Andrew Jackson, despite being a great president (Was he actually? I don't know) didn't work out. So, they batted .500, kind of, that year as it currently stands.
I understand that Malliciach Goodman, Levine Toilolo, Stansly aka Stannis Maponga, Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta sound like a collection of characters in the latest series of book from J.K. Rowling, but obviously something stood out in each player to Dimitroff and co. Some of them will pan out. Some of them won't. We aren't going to be able to really judge this class for several years.
Most of the players were interviewed beforehand, carefully examined and put through serious investigation. You won't have to worry about character concerns. Atlanta doesn't draft anyone falling in that category. I know, we're all sad you aren't here with us, Honey Badger.
As a fan, the franchise probably bats .500 with you as well. Sometimes you love the moves the Falcons make, and other times you hit that caps lock button and go to town on Twitter. That's the nature of sports. It's reasonable to hold reservations about a draft pick, but don't sit there and criticize players because you don't know who they are, or aren't familiar with the program they came from. The Falcons know what they're doing. And if they don't, everyone will get fired and the team will hit rock bottom again and it will be awful to watch. No big deal.