We jump right into this week's mailbag with a tough question about Atlanta's draft approach this year.
Reader The way I see it asks, "So the way the falcons are looking at lower round players, do you believe they are going to trade back for extra picks?"
That's not typically Thomas Dimitroff's M.O. It's an option I believe they should explore and consider very seriously, but I don't think they'll actually do it, despite the fact that they only have five picks.
MRFLAMBOYANT had two questions. The first was, "What do you think about Kaufusi from BYU in coach Quinn’s "fast and physical" defensive scheme? I just saw his game films and dude is a BEAST."
I actually really like Kaufusi as a prospect, and the Falcons have been linked to him. I think he's a possibility for sure.
MRFLAMBOYANT also asks, "Do you think that staying put at 17 is a smart move or trading back in the draft?"
As I mentioned above, I definitely think trading back is the smart move this year because the team only has five picks to work with. I just don't think they'll actually do it.
Conner012367 asks, "Now that Matt Bryant is 40 years old, should the Falcons draft a kicker so that they have one if Mr. Bryant retires?"
Everybody loves Matt Bryant. He's been so clutch for the Falcons and has been the catalyst for a lot of close, last-minute victories. Yes, age may be catching up with him based on his struggles with injury last year, but I don't think this is the year to spend a draft pick on a kicker, honestly. With only five picks to work with, it's just not great timing to replace Bryant via the draft.
Bluefire77 asks, "Thoughts on Beasley taking on more of a LB role?"
I like it. I think he'll still get plenty of snaps at DE, but Vic is versatile and I think letting him get some work at OLB is a great way to feature him in this defense.
As expected, there were a few questions about Donte Whitner.
Reader dirtyolddawg asks, "Just saw where Donta Whitner was released. He was a pro bowl SS 2 years ago and is 30 I think now. Would he be someone to look at?"
And Rayice1319 asks, "Do we tag a flag on Donte Hitner since he was released? He makes big plays and can hit? I know he 30 but age doesn't always mean anything."
My answer is a resounding yes. Whitner, aka Hitner, would fill a genuine need, and while he's not a long-term answer at age 30, he's definitely a viable stopgap solution at strong safety. He also went to The Ohio State University, and I believe I've made my feelings about the Buckeyes abundantly clear.
Rayice1319 also asks, "Do you think we give Ben Garland a chance at LG. He's a big body that moves well and has drive. He has quick feet and could be an asset."
I think they will give Garland a legitimate shot to compete for a starting role at right guard, but I think Levitre is pretty locked in as the starter at left guard. With Alex Mack at center, the interior line should be a lot more stable regardless of who's in there at the guard roles.
Caviarhound asks a question that isn't really Falcons-related, but I'm going to answer it anyway. "IF you had to replace your car tomorrow, what would you get?"
So I recently did replace a car that my 17-year-old daughter totaled, and I got a '97 Lexus ES300, and I'm obsessed with this car. It's super-old, but it's in perfect shape and I love it. If I had to replace my other car, a Highlander, and if I could replace it with any car I wanted, I'd probably get a Lexus RX350 or something from a few years ago. I like that body type better than the current ones.
Reader Etherdome asks, "What does the organization really think about Hageman? Is his heart truly in football?"
Based on my personal interactions with him and observing him at practice and in the locker room, which is really all I have to go on here, Hageman did mature from his rookie season to his second season. He also still has a way to go in that regard, but I think back to when i was his age, and I did, also.
Etherdome also asks two draft questions. "How does the organization feel about Connor McGovern (OG, Missouri) And specifically, what are the off-field concerns with Alex Mcallister (DE, Florida)?"
The organization keeps their draft plans pretty close to the vest. The only thing we really have to go on to gauge interest is whether or not the Falcons have met with or worked out any given player, and I can't find any reports about the team working out McGovern.
As far as McAlister, it's my understanding that he was dismissed from the team for violating team rules.
Reader hudawar asks, "Is Pioli doing draft? Isn't TD over audio equipment? Didn't he get cut from draft in Jan. of '15?"
The draft, and the whole process leading up to it, is a collaboration. Pioli has a significant role in prospect evaluation and the decision-making process, as does Dan Quinn, but ultimately, Dimitroff has final say on draft day.
The way I see it had a couple more questions. "I don't mean to keep bashing Shanny, but i have always heard that great coaches tailor their offense around the talent on hand, but in this case we seem to be having to replace as many or more offense players to fit his scheme than we are on defense. Do you think this is impeding the long overdue rebuild of the defense?"
This is actually a really good question, and yes, I think you're on to something here. They've had to invest quite a bit into the offense to adapt to the zone scheme Shanny runs, and while the defense was definitely improved last year in the new scheme, it still needs quite a bit of attention.
The way I see it also asked, "What if last year we had signed one great linebacker, and this year we had signed one great pass rusher along with the draft choices, we would have the makings of a great defense now, that is what I think, do you?"
Yep, I agree. Still, I'm not sure the team hasn't added a viable pass rusher in Derrick Shelby, and I still think they'll address linebacker early in the draft. (Darron Lee, please.)