We've looked at Atlanta's draft choices in 2008 and 2009 and determined that they could have done a few things differently. What about the 2010 NFL Draft?
With the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Falcons selected outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. I liked the pick at the time, and I still do. Spoon has struggled with injury issues at times, which would be my only complaint about him. Of course, the Falcons could have selected Tim Tebow, who went to Denver with the 25th pick. It's a shame they missed out on that
media circus weird throwing motion opportunity.
This was the draft prior to the big trade up to get Julio Jones in 2011, and something that really would have changed the face of the franchise would have been to select Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant in the first round in 2010. Thomas went to Denver with the 22nd pick, and Bryant went to Dallas at 24. Bryant's off-the-field issues would have been enough to keep him off Atlanta's draft board, but he is an incredibly gifted receiver.
We'll skip the second round, because Atlanta had traded that pick away to Kansas City. The Chiefs, in turn, used it to draft Javier Arenas, who is now a Falcon, so we can just pretend like Atlanta took Arenas with that pick because it worked out that way, anyway.
Atlanta had two third round picks, and used the first to select Corey Peters, a defensive tackle out of Kentucky. Peters is a great fit and has been solid for the Falcons. He's stout against the run and gets decent pressure up the middle. The only thing that would make me reconsider the Peters pick is the fact that Navorro Bowman and Jimmy Graham were both selected after Peters.
With the last pick in the third round, Atlanta selected Mike Johnson, an offensive lineman out of Alabama. Johnson, of course, missed last season entirely after his lower leg exploded in training camp. Cornerback Alterraun Verner and tight end Dennis Pitta went to their respective teams in the fourth round, and either might have been viable options instead of Johnson.
Atlanta selected Joe Hawley out of UNLV with the 117th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hawley has played well at center and guard when called upon to do so. The Falcons already had a good strong safety on the roster after selecting William Moore the previous year, but Kam Chancellor was still on the board when Atlanta selected Hawley, and he's pretty good.
When you go back through and look for alternatives to the actual picks, it really drives home the point that the later rounds of every draft are pretty dicey in terms of actually hitting on talent. Many of the players in the fifth round and beyond aren't even in the league anymore just four years later.
Atlanta's fifth round selection was cornerback Dominique Franks. Franks played well at safety when forced to fill in there in 2012, but he has never been much of an impact player for Atlanta. Again, when you consider that many of the players selected in the fifth round aren't even in the league currently, and Franks stayed with Atlanta through the 2013 season, the team has certainly gotten value out of this selection.
Tight end Andrew Quarless, who is just okay, went to Green Bay later in the fifth round, and while he wouldn't have been a great addition, he would have had the opportunity to shadow and learn from Tony Gonzalez. Another option would have been fullback John Conner, who has bounced around a lot, but has a really awesome name.
Atlanta used a late-fifth round compensatory pick on Kerry Meier, a receiver who had potential but never fulfilled it, primarily due to injuries. Defensive end Greg Hardy was still on the board, and would have been a better option with this pick. We would have missed out on the epic Matt Bryant, "Have fun watching us in January," incident, but it would have been worth it.
Atlanta selected safety Shann Schillinger with the second pick in the sixth round, and Schillinger is another guy who just didn't pan out. Running back James Starks went to Green Bay later in the sixth round, and would have been a good option for Atlanta. The Falcons could have also saved themselves some time and trouble and just drafted cornerback Robert McClain, who went to Carolina in the seventh round. George Selvie, a defensive end who had eight sacks, 11 hits, and 32 hurries with Dallas last season, went to St. Louis in the seventh round, and also might have been a reasonable gamble in the sixth for Atlanta.
What do you think Atlanta could have done differently in the 2010 draft?