Do you remember the 2009 Atlanta Falcons? It was Matt Ryan’s second year in the league. The Falcons missed the playoffs but they had nine wins and seven losses, giving the franchise its first back to back winning seasons. The defense had some star power, but overall, it was a unit that needed some help. (28th in passing yards surrendered/game and 16th in rushing yards surrendered/game.)
They had the 19th pick in the draft, and most of us figured they’d look to improve their mediocre defense. Ultimately they selected linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. But it turns out they had their eye on a different defensive playmaker. According to now former Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick, the Falcons almost didn’t draft Weatherspoon. They almost drafted him.
“[Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff] calls my agent and says ‘Hey, I think we’re picking Jared here at 19,’” Odrick recalls [and h]is mom was elated until the actual selection was announced ... "Then the pick comes up, ‘With the 19th pick in the draft, the Atlanta Falcons select Sean Weatherspoon,’ When that happened my mom literally punched my agent in the arm and said ‘What the [expletive] happened?’
Weatherspoon was a solid pick at 19. He started five games as a rookie, had a fantastic 2011, and had a slightly less fantastic 2012. Then the injuries took over. He missed 10 games in 2013 and all of 2014.
Odrick nearly fell out the first round after the Falcons passed on him. He fell all way to the Dolphins, who took him with the 28th pick. Early in his rookie year, Odrick broke his foot and didn’t play again until 2011. From there he was a solid contributor for both the Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars gave him a five year, $42.5 million contract before the 2015 season. Then, after a shoulder injury ended his 2016 season, the Jaguars released him.
Odrick is only 29 years old and if anything, he’s a solid to good contributor when healthy. If the Falcons liked him back in 2010, there’s a decent possibility they still would. That said, the 2017 Falcons are not the 2010 Falcons, not by any stretch of the imagination.
So what say you? Could the Falcons decide to pursue their former draft target in free agency?