If you missed yesterday's look at what the Falcons might have done differently in the 2008 NFL Draft, we learned that the Falcons could have done things a little differently and ended up with guys like Jamaal Charles and Carl Nicks on the roster instead of Chevis Jackson or Robert James. What about 2009?
The Falcons infamously selected defensive tackle Peria Jerry with their first round pick in 2009, the 24th pick overall. Jerry has battled injury throughout his career and was recently re-signed by the team despite never really living up to first round expectations. Clay Matthews wasn't a scheme fit for Atlanta at the time, and has also battled injury, but he was selected by Green Bay two picks later and is undoubtedly a more impactful player than Jerry. James Laurinaitis might have been considered a reach at the time, but has turned out to be pretty great, and was available until the early second round.
The Falcons selected strong safety William Moore with the 55th overall pick in 2009. The hard-hitting safety has generally lived up to expectations for a second rounder. Looking at other players who were still available at the time Moore was drafted, he is probably the best choice at that spot.
The Falcons selected Christopher Owens in the third round. The speedy cornerback never saw much playing time in Atlanta outside of special teams, and is unfortunately best-remembered by fans for a lackluster showing against Aaron Rodgers in the 2010 postseason--an experience shared by many cornerbacks for many teams that postseason. I always loved Owens' speed, and he was a genuine asset on special teams. The Falcons could have opted to shore up their line with offensive tackle T.J. Lang, who was selected by Green Bay early in the fourth round.
Lawrence Sidbury was Atlanta's fourth-round choice, and look, I have to be honest, the 2009 draft was terrible in terms of depth of talent. So many of the players drafted between Sidbury and William Middleton, Atlanta's first fifth-round pick, aren't even in the league anymore, so while I think fans, and the team, would probably have preferred to see Atlanta select someone different with the pick used on Sidbury, I don't know who it would be. Austin Collie was selected shortly after Sidbury, but his injury history makes him less appealing in retrospect. Cameron Wake, who went undrafted in 2009, has been more productive than Sidbury ever was. Wake finished the 2012 season with a +27.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Sidbury was signed by the Colts as an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season and didn't play a snap in 2013.
The Falcons had two fifth-round picks to work with in 2009. The first, which was the 138th overall pick, was used on defensive back William Middleton. He was waived by the team in early September. He returned to the practice squad later, but was signed away from Atlanta by the Jaguars. Safety Chris Clemons was available into the late fifth round and might have been a better option that Middleton. Michael Bennett went undrafted in 2009 and would have been an impact player, while Middleton was decidedly not.
Garrett Reynolds was Atlanta's second fifth-round pick in 2009. Reynolds had a poor showing in 2013 and was released by the team following the season. Matt Slauson, an offensive guard out of Nebraska, was available into the mid-sixth, and has put together a pretty decent career in Chicago. The Falcons could have also gone for Arian Foster, who went undrafted in 2009. I don't know about you, but I would have preferred to have Arian Foster than Garrett Reynolds.
Atlanta's sixth-round pick was Spencer Adkins. Adkins never had much of an impact in Atlanta. Defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who went undrafted in 2009, would have been an interesting choice instead of Adkins. Atlanta could have also gone the inside linebacker route with Dannell Ellerbe, who also went undrafted. Wide receiver Danny Amendola, who went undrafted, would have also been an option.
Atlanta selected Vance Walker with their seventh round pick in 2009, and Walker was a pretty good choice who outplayed his late-round status, particularly during the 2012 season. This was a solid pick, and I wouldn't change it.
If you could go back and make adjustments to Atlanta's 2009 draft choices, what would you change?