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Thomas Dimitroff's Draft Success by Round: The third round goes awry

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The Falcons have whiffed more than they've made contact in the third round, and it has hurt the team.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We've seen the Falcons put together some very successful first and second rounds over the years, but the third round is a different story.

Let's dive into the third round history.

2008: CB Chevis Jackson, WR Harry Douglas, S Thomas DeCoud

Let's start with Jackson, who was a bust for the Falcons. He played in 31 games and started just three, showcasing solid tackling ability but middling aptitude in coverage and fairly slow foot speed, which got him torched more than once. He simply didn't make enough of an impact to stick around long, and goes down as Atlanta's first poor pick of the Thomas Dimitroff era.

For all the crap he gets, Harry Douglas was a largely productive third receiver in Atlanta for six seasons, reeling in 258 catches for 3,131 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a chain mover who averaged 12.1 yards per reception and enjoyed a 1,000 yard season in 2013, but he was basically a non-factor in the red zone and had a couple of ugly drops and screwups, including a particularly memorable one against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 NFC Championship Game that has earned him the fanbase's lasting enmity. All told, six seasons and solid production make this third round pick a success, even if there was once a time where we thought Douglas would turn into a legitimate #2 option.

It's easy to forget this, now, but Thomas DeCoud was once well-regarded by the Falcons fanbase. He started at least 15 games every year from 2009-2013, amassing 13 interceptions, giving colorful quotes, and generally serving as the ballhawking, freewheeling counterpart to William Moore. Missed tackles and poor angles in coverage piled up over the years and eventually made him unpopular with Falcons fans (you're sensing a pattern here, I trust), but again, DeCoud was a solid pick. We just wish he had been better.

2009: CB Chris Owens

Four seasons in Atlanta, twelve starts, and three picks for Owens, who was supposed to be a solid nickel cornerback for the Falcons. He delivered on that promise at times, but by and large, he was decent at best in coverage and was memorably destroyed in the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers, after which he had two very quiet seasons in Atlanta. This is the second cornerback Dimitroff took in the third round that didn't fare well in the NFL, though Owens certainly stuck around longer than Chevis Jackson.

2010: DT Corey Peters and OL Mike Johnson

Peters was a fan favorite for a stretch, a player who was largely unknown to Falcons fans when he was selected, but then turned in five solid seasons for Atlanta. His 11 sacks were a lot in the context of these Falcons teams, he was good at applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks in general, and he was strong enough against the run to start 15 games three times. The Falcons let him walk after he suffered a catastrophic injury in 2015, but five mostly successful seasons in Atlanta make him one of Dimitroff's stronger picks in the round.

Johnson was undone by injuries. He looked like a fine player coming out of Alabama and a potential big, bullying guard or tackle, but injuries in 2011, 2013, and 2014 destroyed any chance he had of delivering on that promise, and he ultimately retired at the age of 28. Johnson wound up being one of the worse picks of the Dimitroff era in the third round, but injuries are a tough one to pin on the general manager.

2011: LB Akeem Dent

This was a bit of a weird pick at the time, but most of us figured Dent would be a two down thumper and special teamer right off the bat, with some potential to grow in coverage. Considering the Falcons had unceremoniously let Curtis Lofton walk, it didn't make much sense that they'd invest a third round pick into a two down replacement.

That's basically what they got, though. Dent started 20 games over three seasons, but was never more than a decent two-down option for Atlanta who made very few big plays and wasn't an asset in coverage or as a pass rusher. He wound up ceding his middle linebacker spot to Paul Worrilow, and this goes down as a merely so-so selection.

Dent wound up fetching T.J. Yates in a trade, which is another retroactive argument against his selection.

2012: OT Lamar Holmes

Corey Peters was a good example of Thomas Dimitroff going up a bit to get a player he really liked, and it was one that worked out. Lamar Holmes was an example of what happens when that strategy goes wrong.

Holmes was a project, plain and simple, and he didn't do much in his first year. In 2013 as a 24 year old, Holmes started 15 games and was decent or better most of the year, which was a pleasant surprise. In 2014, however, he started just four games before suffering a major injury that cost him the rest of the season, and a June broken foot put him on PUP for 2015, and the Falcons ultimately waived him.

Holmes showed some promise, but ultimately getting one season of starts out of a third round pick isn't optimal, and it's another black mark for Dimitroff, albeit one partially caused by injuries again.

2014: S Dezmen Southward

Besides Chevis Jackson, Southward should go down as Dimitroff's worst third round pick, and you can argue that Southward stands alone. Southward was a surprise in the third round as an athletic safety without a ton of production or an elite skill set, but he figured to be a bit of a project in his first year, so we waited to see what would happen.

Southward ultimately played 19 games for the Falcons with no starts, grabbing one interception and adding one sack, and then he found himself out on the street after three games in the 2015 season. He's currently with the Colts, and Dimitroff simply lit his third rounder on fire here.

2015: RB Tevin Coleman

It's too early to judge Coleman fully, but we saw a mixed bag in 2015. Coleman showed off his tremendous speed and ability on a handful of carries, went through some very productive stretches, and actually entered 2015 as the starter, but wound up taking a backseat to Devonta Freeman thanks to injury, Freeman's effectiveness, and Coleman's major issues with fumbles. I have high hopes for him, but he'll have to get his ball security troubles under control to carve out a larger role.

Conclusion

If we assume it's simply too soon to make a call on Coleman, the Falcons got three reasonably productive players out of the third round since 2008, with the remaining six providing little-to-no value for Atlanta. Many Falcons fans point to the third as the round where Dimitroff reaches and blunders too often, and nothing in this history will change your view of that.

When you consider the value of a third rounder and the production you'd hope to get out of one, this simply isn't good enough, and it helps to explain why the Falcons have so many holes despite doing pretty well in the first and second rounds. We'll see how much the fourth through seventh rounds do the same.