2008: MLB Curtis Lofton
Lofton was one of my favorite Falcons while he was here, and on first and second down he was a genuine asset for the Falcons. He was passable in pass coverage, just useful enough as a pass rusher to occasionally do it,. and certainly the team was not wrong to decide he wasn't a three-down asset. It's just that he was such a competent tackler and so useful against the run that you could excuse me for wishing the 2008-2011 version of Lofton was on this team now.
The major knocks here are that Lofton was, in a sense, a limited player, and that he spent just four years in Atlanta. I'd still consider this a worthwhile draft pick for Atlanta, and one of
2009: S William Moore
Like Sean Weatherspoon, Moore's tenure in Atlanta came to a close (and yes, I know 'Spoon is back) largely because of injury. He played just 18 games over his last two seasons in Atlanta, looking like a shell of himself at times, and played all 16 games just twice.
For all that, though, Moore was a terrific big play safety, the kind of guy who hit you running backs so hard it was easy to forgot he also sometimes missed them. From 2010 to 2013, he was one of the league's better strong safeties and a key part of a secondary that was better than it had any right to be for several seasons. Moore's tenure with the team just ended this offseason, of course, so the Falcons got several good years out of him, too.
Another successful pick for Dimitroff and his crew, albeit less successful than we all hoped for, given how awesome Moore was in the locker room and in his prime.
2012: C/G Peter Konz
A year after the Falcons had no second rounder, things went terribly awry here. It's easy to slag the front office for the Konz pick, but he was the consensus best center in the draft at the time, and few people were that upset when the Falcons took him. He just flopped badly in Atlanta.
It wasn't for lack of effort, but Konz was never strong or nimble enough to stick at the pivot, and he certainly wasn't strong enough to hold at guard. He enjoyed 10 moderately productive starts in 2012, played a so-so full season in 2013, and got hurt in 2014, which effectively ended his tenure with the team. He hasn't played an NFL down since.
2013: CB Robert Alford
A rare of example of the Falcons' front office double-dipping, Alford followed Desmond Trufant in the second round as an older rookie out of a relatively small school. His athleticism and ballhawking nature were immediately evident his rookie season, but Alford struggled with discipline in a big way in both 2012 and 2013, with penalties and mistakes marring some very nice play over that time.
The last two years, and 2015 in particular, have seen Alford play very well with a couple of duds mixed into his season, which is probably about what we should expect from him going forward. He's a very good-to-great #2 cornerback in this league, and it's possible we haven't seen his ceiling yet, so this qualifies as a successful pick for the front office.
2014: DT Ra'Shede Hageman
Hageman's third season in the NFL will be a critical one for him, both because it's the year where many defensive lineman blossom and because he's been a mild disappointment to this point. As a big, very physical interior presence who occasionally tears through offensive lines like tissue paper, many (including me) expected Hageman to be an impact player in 2015. He wasn't, outside of stretches.
Still, I harbor high hopes for Hageman in Atlanta and think he'll deliver on his promise more this year. Right now, the jury's out on the selection.
2015: CB Jalen Collins
The tall, rangy cornerback with length that Dan Quinn was obviously lusting for (metaphorically, I assume) coming into his first draft. Collins took a long time to get going and wasn't very effective in his rookie season, but as has been the case with Hageman, we'll give this selection some time before we pass judgement on it.
I went into this article expecting the results to be more mixed than they were. You have one genuine bust in Peter Konz, two recent picks who will need to pan out in the next year or two to avoid being considered disappointments, and three very productive, capable Falcons who each spent (or will spend) four-plus years with the team. The front office has done a solid job in the second, even if it pales in comparison to the first round, and if Hageman and Collins get going in a meaningful way it'll look even better. I'll readily acknowledge that's a major if.
Don't expect that to be the case when we get into the third round on Friday, sadly.