Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting for March Falcons Free Agency Madness Round 1!
Some notable upsets included 13 seed Adrian Clayborn pulverizing 4 seed Bobby Hebert all the way back to New Orleans and 11 seed Mohamed Sanu beating the peat out of 6 seed Mo Pete. Close calls included Chris Chester squeaking by Dunta Robinson and top seed Ovie Mughelli faced a tighter-than-anticipated 1st round matchup with 16 seed Dwight Freeney, who is showing that he isn’t ready for retirement just yet. And speaking of pending free agents, shout-out to Patrick DiMarco for pitching a first round round shut-out 242-0 against former kicker Todd Peterson.
So with 32 players remaining, let’s move onto round 2! Please try to vote by midnight tonight (Friday, March 3). Then we’ll move along to the Sweet 16 on Saturday. Onward!
(1) RB Michael Turner (FA Class of 2008) vs. (8) KR/PR/WR Devin Hester (2014)
Both players are known to be dangerous in the open field - Turner once he builds up a full head of steam and Hester because of excellent vision and elusiveness. Head-to-head, Turner had about 60 more touchdowns during his Falcons career than Hester, for what it’s worth.
(5) CB Ronnie Bradford (1997) vs. (13) DE Adrian Clayborn (2015)
Both were contributors on Falcons Super Bowl teams, Bradford in 1998 and Clayborn in 2016. In his Falcons career, Bradford had 69 starts over 5 years with 10 interceptions, with most of that as the CB2 across from Ray Buchanan. Thus far, Clayborn has 12 starts and 8 sacks across 2 seasons in Atlanta.
(3) OLB Cornelius Bennett (1996) vs. (6) OLB Clay Matthews, Jr. (1994)
These two linebackers from the 1996 Falcons squad square off, hopefully with Jessie Tuggle lined up in the middle between them to officiate. Both achieved solid production well into their 30s in Atlanta, with Bennett averaging 60+ tackles and 3 sacks over 3 seasons and Matthews averaging 40+ tackles and 2.5 sacks over 3 seasons.
(2) C Alex Mack (2016) vs. (7) DE Brady Smith (2000)
Mack’s 1 season of snapping and blocking excellence matches up against Smith’s 6 seasons of workman-like, reliable defensive end play.
(1) RB Warrick Dunn (2002) vs. (8) CB D.J. Johnson (1994)
With Dunn taking a break from his post-playing career as a Falcons owner, and Johnson taking a break from his broadast career, Dunn tries to beat Johnson around the edge in this particular matchup.
(4) FB Patrick DiMarco (2013) vs. (5) KR/PR/CB Allen Rossum (2002)
Rossum would certainly not have minded DiMarco’s punishing blocking when returning kickoffs back in the day. But instead, they face off against each other, so Rossum has to instead keep an eye out for DiMarco’s lethal blocking and special teams tackling.
(3) FS Eugene Robinson (1998) vs. (11) WR Mohamed Sanu (2016)
Both helped lead the Falcons to a Super Bowl upon arrival in Atlanta. Robinson put together a Pro Bowl season his first year and started another 16 games in his 2nd, accumulating 7 interceptions along the way. Sanu started off his first Falcon year with 59 receptions for 4 touchdowns with the rest TBD.
(2) K Morten Andersen (1995) vs. (7) DT Shane Dronett (1996)
The two former Falcon teammates from 1996-2000 square off, with Morten trying to drill a game winner over Dronett’s outstretched arms.
(1) WR Terance Mathis (1994) vs. (8) TE Jacob Tamme (2015)
Mathis caught a ton of balls from a plethora of quarterbacks dating from the run-and-shoot days through the start of Michael Vick’s career. Tamme had a lot more stability at the quarterback position during his 2-year Falcons career thus far.
(4) SS Lawyer Milloy (2006) vs. (5) OT Todd Weiner (2002)
A Weiner and a Lawyer walk into a room sounds like a bad joke setup, but here, it’s to figure out which steady Falcon will move onto the round of 16 and which one will be left whining or lawyering. The two combined to form a veteran presence on the Falcons’ 2006-2008 rosters but now face off here, 10 years later.
(3) FB Bob Christian (1997) vs. (6) DT Ed Jasper (1999)
You can consider this Bob “Texas” Christian vs. Ed “Manhattan” Jasper if you want to pretend this is a college basketball tournament. Christian is the 3rd Falcons fullback in the round of 32, showing that the Falcons brass has a repeated knack for identifying free agent bruising blocking fullbacks. Christian will try to block his former teammate from 1999-2002 - the somewhat undersized but nifty plugger Jasper - from advancing.
(2) DT Rod Coleman vs. (7) OG Chris Chester (2015)
Chester won a sqeaker to move past Dunta Robinson, but his next opponent is a much more difficult matchup from a blocking perspective. Rod Coleman is ready to come flying off the ball at the snap, and it’s up to Chester to block him out of the Sweet 16.
(1) FB Ovie Mughelli (2007) vs. (9) DT Grady Jackson (2006)
After struggling to put away Dwight Freeney in round 1, Mughelli’s tough bracket continues with big man and former 2007-2008 teammate Grady Jackson occupying his lane. Do Ovie’s 4.5 seasons of blasting holes win out over Grady’s 2.5 years of space-eating?
(4) CB Ashley Ambrose (2000) vs. (5) OG Mike Zandofsky (1994)
Both arrived in Atlanta at about the same age and put together 3 solid seasons of production for the Falcons. But if we’re being honest, it’s tough to evaluate this matchup fairly without first loading up the mid-1990s All-22 film to break down each and every one of Zandofsky’s snaps, so we’ll wait here patiently while you do so.
(3) RB/FB Craig Heyward (1994) vs. (6) S Erik Coleman (2008)
Coleman stabilized the secondary upon his Falcons arrival in 2008 whereas Heyward destabilized opposing defenders upon his Falcons arrival in 1994, picking up a Pro Bowl berth and 1,000 yard rushing season along the way.
(2) CB Ray Buchanan (1997) vs. (7) DE Jumpy Geathers (1993)
Big Play Ray gets the picks and Jumpy gets the sacks. Pick your poison between a designated pass rush specialist and a ball-locator in the secondary.