Archive for the ‘Draft Central’ Category

Falcons Trade Up For Marquis Spruill in Fifth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Marquis Spruill

The Atlanta Falcons selected Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, trading up from their sixth-round spot with the Minnesota Vikings. The Falcons gave up their sixth-round (182nd overall) and seventh-round picks (220th overall) to the Vikings for their fifth-round (168th overall) to select Spruill.

Spruill is the lone pick selected thus far by the Falcons in 2014 that was not invited to the Scouting Combine in February. Spruill is noted for his athleticism, earning nomination as a potential “freak” by CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman last May. At his pro day, Spruill measured in at 6’1″ 231 pounds, clocking a 4.53-second 40-yard dash with 21 bench reps of 225 pounds, 34.5-inch vertical jump and 7.33-second three-cone drill.

As a senior captain, Spruill earned honorable mention All-ACC honors with career-highs of 66 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Spruill played both inside and outside linebacker at Syracuse, but played predominantly in the middle as a four-year starter with 49 career starts. He finished his career second on the school’s all-time list with 41 tackles for loss, while also adding 12.5 career sacks and four pass breakups.

Spruill will likely play inside and outside for the Falcons as a reserve behind Sean Weatherspoon at weak-side linebacker.

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Falcons Select Ricardo Allen in Fifth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Allen

The Atlanta Falcons selected Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen with their lone fifth-round pick, the 147th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Allen adds some depth at cornerback and has a chance to compete for the nickel role as a rookie, after serving as a starter and slot corner as a senior captain. He had a career-high six interceptions this past year, starting a total of 12 games. Allen finished his career as a four-year starter with 48 starts in 50 career appearances. He finished his career with 250 tackles, 14.5 for loss, three sacks, 13 interceptions, 15 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and 4 touchdowns on interception returns. He also blocked a field goal as a sophomore.

At the Combine, Allen measured 5’9″ and 187 pounds. He clocked a 4.61-second 40-yard dash and jumped 35.5 inches in the vertical. He was able to improve upon both marks at Purdue’s pro day, where he ran a 4.51-second 40 and leapt 37 inches in the vertical. He also clocked a 6.9-second three-cone drill.

Allen worked out for the Falcons in March.

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Falcons Take Devonta Freeman and Prince Shembo in Fourth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

The Atlanta Falcons used a pair of fourth-round picks on Florida State running back Devonta Freeman and Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo. Freeman was selected with the third pick in the round, the 103rd overall, while Shembo was selected 36 slots later for 139th overall with teh team’s first of three compensatory picks. It was reported back in April that both Freeman and Shembo were on the Falcons’ radar.

Freeman was the starting tailback for the National Championship-winning Seminoles this past year, leading the team with 1,016 yards on 173 carries (5.9 avg) with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. Freeman led the Seminoles in rushing all three years he was with the team, but split carries his first two years. He did manage to start nine games over that span, and combined for 1,239 yards on 231 yards (5.4 avg) and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 197 yards.

Freeman measured 5’8″ and 205 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February, and clocked a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and jumped 31.5 inches in the vertical. He also had a 7.11-second three-cone time. Freeman was able to add 14 bench reps of 225 pounds at his pro day.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Prince Shembo

Shembo was a three-year starter playing both defensive end and outside linebacker in Notre Dame’s 3-4 defense. In his junior season, he posted career-highs with 51 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. As a senior, he had 48 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks.

At the Combine, Shembo measured 6’1″ 253 pounds and ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash. He also had 26 bench reps with a 38.5-inch vertical, which ranked tied for fourth-best among linebackers at the event.

Shembo also admitted during the Combine that he was the unknown Notre Dame player that was involved in sexual assault allegations by a Saint Mary’s College student in 2010. The accusing student in question would later commit suicide. However charges were never brought against Shembo by university officials, and Shembo claims his innocence.

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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Jake Matthews

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

Here’s my breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons top 2014 NFL Draft selection, offensive tackle Jake Matthews.


Height: 6’5″
Weight: 308
College: Texas A&M
40 Time: 5.07 seconds (Combine)
Bench Press: 24 reps (Combine)

Matthews hails from a football-rich family with practically every male member having NFL experience for three generations. Grandfather Clay Matthews Sr. played defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers (1950-55). His father, Bruce, played offensive line for Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1983-2001 and was inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., played linebacker for Cleveland Browns (1978-93) and Falcons (1994-96). Brother, Kevin played center for Titans from 2010-13. Cousin, Clay III, plays linebacker with Green Bay Packers since 2009. Cousin, Casey, plays linebacker for Philadelphia Eagles since 2011. Has a younger brother, Mike, that is currently at Texas A&M.

Matthews is a three-year starter that spent the beginning of his career playing right tackle before moving to left tackle as a senior. He started the final seven games of his true freshman year at right tackle, playing opposite 2013 first-round pick Luke Joeckel. Started every game as a sophomore and junior at right tackle (26 total). Moved to left side upon Joeckel’s departure in 2013, and started 13 games there. He earned All-SEC honors as a junior and senior, and was an honorable mention candidate for All-Big 12 as a sophomore. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy as a senior, and won the Bobby Bowden Award that same year. That award honors players for their high performance on the field, in the classroom and community.

Full name is Jacob Matthews, and was born on February 11, 1992. He attended Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas.


2nd Lev
Key Blk
Miss Blk
Pen Type
Sep-28at Arkansas5/90/01/10/0210011holding
Oct-12at Ole Miss1/10/01/10/0310021holding
Nov-23at LSU1/20/00/00/0000021ill. block
Nov-30at Missouri5/100/03/30/1010051holding
2nd Lev (second level), Pull (pulling), Cut (cut blocking) and Screen indicate how often he was able to hit his blocking assignments in those situations.


The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Strength (6.0) - Shows decent strength but certainly has the potential to get much stronger. Measuring in at 308 pounds at the Combine, that’s about seven pounds lighter than the NFL average. Could potentially add another 10-15 pounds to his frame easily, particularly to improve his upper body strength. Rarely dominates opposing players with his strength alone. He lifted 225 pounds 24 times at the Combine, which is adequate for a tackle of his caliber.
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Falcons Take Dez Southward in Third Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 9th, 2014 Comments off

Dezmen Southward

The Atlanta Falcons selected Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, taking him with the 68th overall selection.

Southward joins second-round pick Ra’Shede Hageman as a fellow Senior Bowl participant targeted by the team, suiting up for the North squad under the Falcons’ guidance during the all-star week in January. Southward is a two-year starter at Wisconsin, playing both free safety and strong safety. During his time at the Senior Bowl, he also got work at cornerback.

Southward measured in at 6′ and 211 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February. He did not participate in any drills to injury issues, but did have an outstanding pro day in early March, where he was clocked as fast as 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical jump. He also posted a 6.50-second three-cone drill and leapt 10 feet, 4 inches on his broad jump during his pro day workout.

Southward started the final 28 games over his career and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten candidate over his final two seasons at Wisconsin. During that time, he combined for 109 tackles, 11.5 for loss, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups.

Southward’s stepfather, Eli Rasheed, is currently the defensive line coach at Toledo University. Southward did not play football until his senior year of high school, previously playing basketball and running track. He worked on the track and field team briefly during 2013 while at Wisconsin, filling in as an injury replacement on their 4×100 meter relay team.

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Falcons Select Ra’Shede Hageman In Second Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 9th, 2014 Comments off
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ra’Shede Hageman

The Atlanta Falcons selected Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman with their second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 37th overall selection.

Hageman helps beef up the Falcons defensive line, a noted goal of the team this offseason. At 6’6″ 310 pounds, Hageman is a massive upgrade to potentially play inside and outside in the Falcons hybrid defensive scheme. Hageman played under the Falcons coaching staff for the North squad during the Senior Bowl all-star game in January. At February’s Scouting Combine, he ran a 5.02-second 40-yard dash and did an impressive 32 bench reps of 225 pounds. He also had a 35.5-inch vertical jump.

Hageman had a couple of issues during his career at Minnesota, being suspended four games at the end of his sophomore season for academic reasons. He was also arrested during the course of breaking up a bar fight the following year, but the charges were dropped. He would assume a starting job that season and record 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. As a senior, he had 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and two sacks as he earned captain honors. He also had an interception and a pair of blocked kicks.

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Falcons Select Jake Matthews at Top of 2014 NFL Draft

May 8th, 2014 Comments off
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews stands with Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2014 NFL Draft

The Atlanta Falcons selected Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was selected with the sixth overall pick and will be an immediate upgrade to the team’s offensive line and pass protection.

Matthews has strong NFL bloodlines, as his father Bruce is a Hall of Famer tackle that played 19 years with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. His cousins, Clay III and Casey currently play linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. His older brother Kevin is currently a free agent center and played for the Titans from 2010-12. His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., played linebacker for three years with the Falcons from 1994-96 after a long career with the Cleveland Browns.

Matthews was a four-year starter at A&M, playing right tackle before kicking over to the left side as a senior to replace Luke Joeckel, who was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the second overall pick last season. Matthews started his last 46 games at A&M, 13 at left tackle and 33 at right tackle. He earned All-SEC honors both as a senior and junior and All-American honors as a senior. He was also named a team captain his final year in College Station.

At the Combine, Matthews measured 6’5″ 308 pounds with a 5.07-second 40-yard dash, 24 bench reps of 225 pounds, 30.5-inch vertical jump, and a 7.34-second three-cone drill.

Matthews was one of several prospects that visited the Falcons during a busy week in April.


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Final 2014 Mock NFL Draft

May 7th, 2014 Comments off
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

Initially I intended to have my final mock draft to include trades, but it wound being much too complicated in the end and I abandoned it. But some of these picks reflect some possible trades as opposed to the exact position in which I think guys will go.

1. Houston – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. St. Louis – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
3. Jacksonville – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
4. Cleveland – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
5. Oakland – LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
6. Atlanta – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
7. Tampa Bay – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
8. Minnesota – LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
9. Buffalo – DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
10. Detroit – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
11. Tennessee – QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
12. N.Y. Giants – OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
13. St. Louis – CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
14. Chicago – S Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
15. Pittsburgh – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
16. Dallas – S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
17. Baltimore – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
18. N.Y. Jets – WR Odell Beckham, LSU
19. Miami – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
20. Arizona – DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
21. Green Bay – LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
22. Philadelphia – WR Marqise Lee, Southern California
23. Kansas City – WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
24. Cincinnati – CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
25. San Diego - OT Joel Bitonio, Nevada
26. Cleveland – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
27. New Orleans – CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
28. Carolina – OT Morgan Moses, Virginia
29. New England – OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
30. San Francisco - CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian
31. Denver – LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
32. Seattle – DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State


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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 5/4

May 4th, 2014 Comments off

Pro days have long been over, however that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any Atlanta Falcons-related draft news from the past week.

The National Football Post revealed that the Falcons have shown interest in a number of players including Florida State fullback Chad Abram, Buffalo cornerback Najja Johnson, Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd and Louisville safety Hakeem Smith.

All four players are projected to be late-round picks and possibly undrafted free agent candidates.

Boyd is interesting given some of his off-field concerns that led to him being kicked off Vanderbilt’s team last summer. The Falcons’ interest in him could be due to them trying to gain more insight into those events, but also because the team has already done the background work that wouldn’t preclude them selecting him if he’s already passed their strict character filter.

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Draft Needs: Is Dwight Lowery Enough for Falcons at Safety?

May 2nd, 2014 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Lowery

When the Atlanta Falcons decided to cut long-time free safety Thomas DeCoud in March, it created a void at the position. But the thinking may have been that DeCoud’s play in 2013 had slipped so considerably that such a void would be relatively easy to fill.

And while the Falcons made quick moves to help address their weaknesses along the line of scrimmage at the outset of free agency, they stood quiet when it came to concerns in the secondary. But eventually the Falcons addressed their need at the position by signing Dwight Lowery, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lowery was a forgotten man, having missed most of 2013 nursing a concussion. He was released by the Jaguars midseason after being placed on injured reserve due to that head injury, his second in six years in the NFL. But his inconspicuous exit from Jacksonville should not diminish what he had done for three years, where he was second only to linebacker Daryl Smith as the team’s most consistent defender. And one certainly saw what Smith did in Baltimore last year after leaving behind obscurity in Jacksonville.

Lowery began his career at cornerback, playing three seasons with the New York Jets playing mainly in the slot. That should give him an edge over DeCoud in terms of coverage on the back-end, an area that has been sorely lacking for the team in recent years. Man coverage is anything but a strength for strong safety William Moore (as Jimmy Graham can attest). Not to mention, Lowery should be a vast improvement over DeCoud in run support as he is much less prone to missing tackles. Over the past three years in Jacksonville, Lowery missed a combined 10 tackles (per premium website Pro Football Focus). In 2013 alone, DeCoud missed 12 and combined for 43 over the past three seasons.

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