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Falcons take closer look at Notre Dame safeties

April 7th, 2013 Comments off

Matt Fortuna of ESPN reports Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter is likely to be a candidate to work out at the Falcons local pro day this month. Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that fellow Golden Domer Zeke Motta had a visit with the Falcons this past week.

Slaughter a native of Stone Mountain, GA will be allowed to work out with prospects from nearby high schools and colleges at the Falcons facility. An exact date for the Falcons local pro day is not known, but in past years has been scheduled a few weeks before the draft. Slaughter missed nearly all of this past season with a torn Achilles tendon. In 2011, he had 45 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 interception, and 3 pass breakups. He is unlikely to be drafted given his injury, but could be a nice pickup as an undrafted player if his rehab continues to progress.

Motta could be looked as a late-round pick for a team. He has good size (6-2, 213) with run-stopping ability. While he did not pick off a pass this season, he did have 77 tackles which ranked second on their team behind Manti Te’o. He could potentially carve out a role on special teams in Atlanta.

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Falcons look at several West Coast prospects

April 7th, 2013 Comments off
Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Boise State’s Jamar Taylor among Falcons targets

Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider has been on top of the Falcons conducting workouts of several West Coast prospects this weekend. Yesterday, Pauline tweeted that the Falcons worked out a number of prospects at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. Among them were UCLA defensive end Datone Jones and running back Johnathan Franklin along San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar and cornerback Leon McFadden. Per Pauline, Jones had an impressive workout. Today, the Falcons were set to look at a group of prospects from the Bay Area including Cal center Brian Schwenke, Stanford tight ends Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz as well as running back Stepfan Taylor. Tomorrow, the Falcons will look at cornerback Jamar Taylor (Boise State).

Jones, Ertz, and Taylor have been projected as potential targets for the Falcons top pick on April 25. Franklin, Escobar, McFadden, and Schwenke have been graded by many to be potential second day targets for the team. Toilolo is considered a late round prospect, while Stepfan Taylor is likely to be taken in the middle rounds.

Datone Jones had his most productive year as a senior, with 62 tackles, 19 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He played predominantly end for UCLA, but also got opportunities to line up inside at defensive tackle and rush the passer. Franklin got off to a fast start this past year, rushing for over 200 yards in his first two games, making him an early Heisman candidate. He finished the season with 282 carries for 1734 yards (6.1 avg) and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes, excelling in the zone blocking scheme incorporated by new head coach Jim Mora this past year. He is noted for his speed (4.49 second 40) and quickness.

Ertz is considered alongside Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert to be the premier tight end in this year’s class. He had his best year as a senior with 69 catches for 898 yards (13.0 avg) and 6 touchdowns, the leader for the team. His teammate Toilolo was highly-touted going into the season, but had disappointing production with inconsistent hands. He finished the year with 24 catches for 393 yards (16.4 avg) and 4 touchdowns.  But his large frame (6-8, 260 pounds) and blocking potential still means he could be a solid NFL player. Stepfan Taylor has been a workhorse for Stanford the past three seasons since taking over for Toby Gerhart. He put together his best season this past fall with career highs of 320 carries for 1530 yards (4.8 avg), coupled with 13 touchdowns. He also improved as a pass catcher with 41 catches, second on the team. Taylor isn’t blessed with great size or speed (4.76 second 40 at the Combine), but is a powerful consistent runner that can at least carve out a role as a quality backup in the pros.

Escobar didn’t have as productive a year as many hoped this year, thanks in part due to the departure of quarterback Ryan Lindley. As a sophomore, he caught 51 passes for 780 yards (15.3 avg) and 7 touchdowns, but those numbers fell to 42 catches for 543 yards (12.9 avg) and 6 touchdowns this past year. That was still good enough to lead his team for the long tight end that measured in at 6-6, 254 pounds at the Combine. McFadden is a ballhawk that collected 8 interceptions and 47 pass breakups over his career. He was compared favorably to Brent Grimes by NFL.com’s draft profile.

Jamar Taylor impressed at the Combine when he clocked a 4.39 40 time coupled with 22 bench reps, indicating both speed and strength for the 5-11, 192-pound corner. He had his most productive year this past seasons with 51 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 4 interceptions, and 13 pass breakups.

NFL.com’s Mike Mayock lists Schwenke as his top-rated center in this year’s class, as the three-year starter is coming off his first season at the position. The two previous years, the 6-3, 314-pound player played both guard spots giving him added versatility. He lifted 225 pounds 31 times at the Combine and clocked a 4.99 second 40 time, indicating he possesses good strength and athleticism.

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2013 Three-Round Mock Draft

April 7th, 2013 Comments off
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Joeckel is the top pick?

This is the second official mock I’ve posted this off-season, you can click here to see the first from a month ago. I ran through a first round mock on twitter a week ago and this one won’t be that dissimilar. The biggest and most noteworthy change is that I do not have a single quarterback being taken in the first round of this new three-round mock.

That is significant in my eyes because it would be the first time since 1996 that has happened. So odds are, in that sense this mock will be wrong since it’s only happened once in the past seventeen drafts. But what is interesting that when we entered this off-season, there were a number of teams picking in the Top Ten picks that had needs at quarterback: Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Arizona, Buffalo, and the New York Jets. All but one of those teams have made moves this off-season to secure veteran signal callers. That lone holdout is the Jaguars. Even low-level moves such as the Bills and Browns adding Kevin Kolb and Jason Campbell, respectively, suggests to me that teams have learned their lesson and are more reluctant to reach on a first round quarterback.

It’s simply not a good class, and I think the movement of veteran quarterbacks shows that the teams picking at the top of the first round are reluctant to make that investment in subpar players. There could be some passers drafted in the first round from teams moving into the latter part of Round One. The Jaguars hold the key. If they pass on a quarterback at Pick No. 2, they then are likely to pull the trigger on a quarterback with the opening pick of Round 2 at No. 33. Teams might try to jump ahead of them into the latter portion of Round One to get the guy they like. But we will see. This draft won’t be short on interesting storylines, even if it is on top-end talent.

Also you might want to check out the updated mock muncher.

1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The reason why Joeckel has been penciled in here is because I haven’t heard enough to not pick him. It’s pretty safe to assume the Chiefs will use the top pick on the best tackle on their board. But whether that player is Joeckel remains to be seen. The reason why most put Joeckel over Eric Fisher is because of the higher level of competition. And the reason why Joeckel over Lane Johnson is because of experience and consistency. But one could argue that Fisher and/or Johnson have higher upside due to their athletic ceilings. Nothing in the pasts of Andy Reid or GM John Dorsey suggest that they have a strong small school bias to use that as a reason to put Joeckel over Fisher. But the consensus today is that Joeckel is slightly better than Fisher, and until there are a few more Mike Mayocks out there that are willing to shift their opinions, I’ll keep pegging Joeckel to be the top pick.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
What is interesting to me is that Jacksonville’s new GM is David Caldwell, a disciple of both Thomas Dimitroff and Bill Polian. Both Dimitroff and Polian hired defensive-minded coaches as their first choice at their respective jobs in Atlanta (Mike Smith) and Indianapolis (Jim Mora), but proceeded to draft quarterbacks with their first picks. Caldwell hired Gus Bradley from Seattle, who is a defensive maven who’d probably love to have Dion Jordan be the foundation of his rebuilding project for Jacksonville’s defense. But I’m also confident that Caldwell has little faith in Blaine Gabbert moving forward. I just wonder if his confidence is low enough, or perhaps his faith is high enough in one of these prospects to use the No. 2 pick overall on a quarterback. I don’t think so. I think unlike Dimitroff and Polian, Caldwell will settle for taking the best quarterback available with the top pick in the second round.

3. Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Raiders are just going to be looking for a good football player, and a lot of people really like Floyd. The signing of Tracy Porter probably precludes a move to get Dee Milliner at this pick, who fills a much higher need.
Read more…

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Falcons taking a closer look at UGA’s Ogletree

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Georgia LB Alec Ogletree

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was in attendance at yesterday’s pro day for the University of Georgia. Much of the story surrounding yesterday’s pro day centered around the “lackluster” performance of outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who clocked a disappointing 4.92 second 40 time, prompting some to view the 6-3, 249-pound pass rusher as a better prospect at defensive end.

But more interesting was the tweet of the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter yesterday that the Falcons have scheduled a private workout for linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 6-3, 244-pound inside linebacker ran a 4.64 second wind-aided 40 time and lifted 225 pounds 18 times on the bench press. Ogletree has the athleticism and versatility to potentially play all three linebacker positions at the next level and has been favorably compared to current Falcon Sean Weatherspoon given his athleticism.

Ogletree is projected as a first round pick, although his stock took a hit following a February DUI arrest. This came on the heels of a 4-game suspension to start the 2012 season due to a failed drug test. He was suspended for a game as a freshman following the theft of a scooter helmet. The Falcons typically avoid players with off-field red flags, but scheduling a visit with him likely indicates they want to take a closer look at the talented linebacker.

Despite not playing a full season, Ogletree’s production was off the charts this past year, as his 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, and 6 pass breakups exceeded his combined totals from the two previous years: 86 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 3 sacks, no interceptions, and 3 breakups.

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Falcons to workout safety Phillip Thomas

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State FS Phillip Thomas

Ricardo Cano of The Collegian reports that the Falcons have scheduled a work out with Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas. Thomas worked out with fellow Fresno State draft prospects on Wednesday at the school’s pro day, and it’s not known if the team conducted a campus workout or will invite Thomas to Flowery Branch.

Nineteen NFL teams were on hand this week to watch Fresno State’s pro day, which likely included the Falcons, but that is as of yet unconfirmed. Thomas was able to improve his 40 time from last month’s Scouting Combine, able to shave his time down from 4.65 seconds to 4.53. Also improving on previous 40 times Wednesday was running back Robbie Rouse, who ran an unimpressive 4.8 second 40 at the Combine. He managed a 4.56 at his pro day.

Thomas is the third-rated free safety by CBS Sports/NFL Draft Scout and projected as a second day draft pick. Thomas missed all of his junior season (2011) with a broken leg, but returned stronger than ever as a senior this past fall. He had 8 interceptions, which led the nation, along with 84 tackles, 12 for loss, and 4 sacks. Three of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

In other workout-related news, it was reported Tuesday by Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News that Texas A&M outside lineback Sean Porter has already had a private workout with the Falcons. A&M held their pro day on March 8, where Porter reportedly ran a 4.63. CBS Sports projects Porter as a third or fourth round pick. Porter replaced current Denver Broncos star Von Miller as A&M’s primary pass-rushing linebacker as a junior in 2011, recording 9.5 sacks, 79 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. He was supplanted by Damontre Moore this past season, and got more reps in coverage. He still managed 3.5 sacks, 66 tackles, 6.5 for loss, but also had an interception and 5 pass breakups

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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/22

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

SDSU WR Brice Butler

This past week, the Falcons were confirmed to be at the pro days of Albany State on Monday, San Diego State and Sam Houston State on Tuesday, N.C. State and Tennessee on Wednesday, and Middle Tennessee and Kentucky yesterday.

The Falcons were one of just four teams to watch Albany State’s prospects work out. Defensive tackle Justin Blash measured in at 6-5, 320 pounds and ran a wind-aided 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. He also did 29 bench reps of 225 pounds. Running back Nathan Hoyte had a 4.47 second wind-aided 40, and recorded a 10-foot-3-inch broad jump and 33.5-inch vertical jump.

The Falcons reportedly showed interest in wideout Brice Butler at San Diego State’s pro day. Butler is the son of former Falcon cornerback Bobby Butler, who played 11 seasons with the team from 1981-92 and his 27 career interceptions currently rank sixth on the team’s all-time leaders list. Butler is a former USC trojan that transferred to San Diego State this past year. He caught 24 passes for 347 yards (14.5 avg) and 4 touchdowns, after catching 41 passes for 554 yards (13.5 avg) and 3 touchdowns in three years with the Trojans. At the pro day, Butler clocked a 4.36 second 40 time, with a 6.60 second 3-cone drill, 10-foot-9-inch broad jump, and 39-inch vertical. Butler being a native of Norcross, GA may be eligible to work out at the Falcons local pro day.

Two other highly-rated Aztec prospects are tight end Gavin Escobar and cornerback Leon McFadden, both of whom worked at last month’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Escobar was able to improve his 40 time, going from a 4.84 second time in Indianapolis to a 4.70 time on Tuesday. He reportedly spoke to Falcons officials. McFadden stood on his Combine numbers, except he repeated his 34.5-inch vertical.

Most eyes were likely drawn to quarterback Mike Glennon and cornerback David Amerson at N.C. State’s pro day, as both are projected as second round picks. But other players might have turned a few heads with some impressive athleticism being on display. Wideout Tobias Palmer led the Wolfpack in receptions this past season with 54, clocked a 4.33 second 40 time, with a 33.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-1-inch broad jump, and 14 bench reps of 225 pounds. Cornerback C.J. Wilson also clocked a 40 time of 4.33 seconds, 37-inch vertical, 10-foot-6-inch broad jump, and 17 bench reps. Running back Jonathan Fisher had a 4.37 second 40 time, 38-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-7-inch broad jump, and 16 bench reps.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports that every NFL team was on hand to check out Tennessee’s pro day on Wednesday. Assembled there was an impressive collection of receivers including projected first round pick Cordarelle Patterson. Justin Hunter recorded a 40.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-6-inch broad jump. Former UT receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who transferred to Tennessee Tech after being suspended by the team was also on hand and had a 38-inch vertical jump. All three were invited to last month’s Combine. The Vol’s third receiver, Zach Rogers did not receive a Combine invite, and measured in at 6-1, 182 pounds, and ran a 4.49 second 40 time with a 9-foot-7-inch broad jump, 32-inch vertical, and 6.72 second 3-cone drill. Tight end Mychal Rivera also had a 31-inch vertical and did 21 bench reps.

The Falcons were among 13 teams represented at Middle Tennessee’s pro day. Running back Benny Cunningham is coming off knee surgery that ended his 2012 season prematurely. In five games however, he rushed for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns. He still managed to lift at the pro day, putting up 225 pounds 26 times.

Impressing at Kentucky’s pro day was running back CoShik Williams, who measured in at 5-9, 182 pounds. He did 20 bench reps, clocked a 4.62 second 40 time, 10-foot-1-inch broad jump, and 35-inch vertical.

Updating previous reports from last week, Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports that all 32 teams were represented at the March 13 pro day of Rutgers.

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Falcons awarded four compensatory picks

March 18th, 2013 Comments off

This evening the league announced which teams would receive compensatory picks in next month’s draft, and the Atlanta Falcons were awarded four of them. Annually the league gives out 32 picks to teams that suffered significant free agent losses in the preceding off-season. Dependent on the player’s significance, determined by secret formula taking into account salary and playing time, picks are given at the end of Rounds Three through Seven. Last year the Falcons lost Curtis Lofton, Eric Weems, Kelvin Hayden, and James Sanders. Lofton’s departure to New Orleans netted the Falcons a fourth round pick, the final pick in that round. The other three free agent losses give the Falcons three additional seventh round picks. The Falcons now hold eleven total picks, holding picks in each round prior to tonight’s announcement.

First round: No. 30 overall
Second round: No. 60 overall
Third round: No. 92 overall
Fourth round: No. 128 overall
Fourth round: No. 133 overall*
Fifth round: No. 164 overall
Sixth round: No. 199 overall
Seventh round: No. 237 overall
Seventh round: No. 243 overall*
Seventh round: No. 244 overall*
Seventh round: No. 249 overall*

* Denotes a compensatory pick.

Compensatory picks are ineligible to be traded.

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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/17

March 17th, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons were confirmed to be at seven different pro days last week, starting with Penn State on Monday, Lehigh on Tuesday, Colorado State and Alabama on Wednesday, with Arkansas State, Georgia Tech, and Oregon on Thursday.

Per Rob Rang of CBS Sports, defensive tackle Jordan Hill was able to improve upon his Combine numbers, clocking a 4.97 second 40 time at the pro day, down from 5.23 seconds he ran in Indianapolis. Linebacker Gerald Hodges was able to record a 35.5-inch vertical jump, while cornerback Stephon Morris blazed a 4.35 second 40 time. At 5-8, 168 pounds, he’s undersized but showed impressive athleticism with a 35-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump.

While the Falcons were not listed among the official attendees at California (PA)’s pro day on Monday, they are expected to hold a private workout for center Eric Kush per Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Zone.

Wideout Ryan Spadola was the star of Lehigh’s pro day per Gil Brandt of NFL.com. He measured in just under 6-2 and 204 pounds. He recorded a 37-inch vertical and did not drop a pass during positional drills. Linebacker Billy Boyko clocked a 4.5-second 40 time, with 15 bench reps of 225 pounds and a 37.5-inch vertical jump.

Among the attendees at Colorado State’s pro day, was former CSU Ram long snapper Scott Albritton, who briefly played for the Falcons in the 2012 off-season. Albritton is looking for a chance to get back into the NFL. One of CSU’s top 2013 draft propsects is offensive lineman Joe Caprioglio, who measured in at 6-6, 315 pounds and did 27 bench reps of 225 on Wednesday.

Every NFL team attended the pro day of the national champs, Alabama. Not all of the former Crimson Tide prospects opted to work out this past week, as they will have two more opportunities in April. Linebacker Nico Johnson measured in at 6-2, 250 pounds and clocked a 4.74 second 40 time. He also had a 30-inch vertical jump and 9-foot-2-inch broad jump. Safety Robert Lester was able to improve on some of his times from the Combine, with a 4.60 40 time, improving from 4.66. He was able to add half an inch to his 33.5-inch vertical leap from the Combine, and five inches on his 9-foot-8-inch broad jump.

Safety Don Jones was the star of Arkansas State’s pro day, clocking a 4.40 second 40 time with a 42-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-7-inch broad jump. Jones measured in at 5-11, 191 pounds, and also did 17 bench reps.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was among attendees at Georgia Tech’s pro day. Cornerback Rod Sweeting is their top prospect and worked out at last month’s Combine. He did positional drills and also looked to improve in other areas, including a 7.09-second three-cone drill.

Oregon sent a strong contingent of athletes to last month’s scouting combine. One player that was not invited was linebacker Michael Clay, who measured in at 5-11, 230 pounds on Thursday. He ran a 4.76 second 40 time with a 31.5-inch vertical jump, 9-foot-6-inch broad jump, and a 6.73 second three-cone drill. He also benched 225 pounds 23 times.

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Falcons eye Jackson State Prospects at Pro Day

March 9th, 2013 Comments off

Jackson State announced that the Falcons were among attendees at their pro day on Friday. The school also released unofficial results of their prospects. Two chief prospects that had promising workouts were linebacker Joseph LeBeau and wide receiver Rico Richardson.

LeBeau played defensive end at Jackson State, but measured in just barely above 6-0 and 219 pounds at January’s Casino Del Sol All-Star game. He led FCS schools with 16 sacks as a junior, and produced 10.5 this past year. Per the school site, he ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.4 second range, with 26 bench reps of 225 pounds, a 35.5-inch vertical jump, and 10-foot-7-inch broad jump.

Richardson is listed at 6-0, 185 pounds by NFL Draft Scout.com and led the school in receiving this year with 56 catches for 1081 yards and 10 touchdowns. His unofficial pro day results include a 4.3-second 40 time, 12 bench reps, 35.5-inch vertical jump, and 10-foot-1-inch broad jump.

Read more…

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Falcons check out Southern Miss Pro Day

March 9th, 2013 2 comments

Tim Doherty of the Hattiesburg American reports that the Falcons were among several teams that attended Southern Mississippi’s pro day on Friday.

The prospect drawing the most attention was linebacker Jamie Collins, who lit up last month’s Combine in Indianapolis. Collins opted only to go through positional drills, standing pat on his Combin numbers. Collins measures 6-3, 250 pounds, with only 8 percent body fat. He clocked a 4.64-second 40 time, fourth fastest among all linebackers. His 11-foot-7-inch broad jump and 41.5-inch vertical jump topped the linebacker group. His broad jump was the best of any prospect in Indianapolis and his vertical jump was the second best overall. He also ranked in the top five of his position group with a 7.10-second 3-cone drill and 11.55 60-yard shuttle. Collins is a former high school quarterback that converted to defensive back upon arrival at Southern Miss. He was moved to linebacker during his sophomore year, and he had a breakout senior as a senior with career highs of 92 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 5 pass breakups. His Combine performance has him moving up the boards, as he is listed second on Mike Mayock’s 3-4 outside linebacker rankings on NFL.com. He is projected as a likely second day pick, but his climb up boards could potentially see him get drafted in the latter part of Round One come April.

Per Gil Brandt of NFL.com, tackle Jason Weaver measured at 6-5, 312 pounds. Weaver also attended last month’s combine, made slight improvements on his Combine numbers clocking a 5.33 second 40 (5.44 in Indianapolis), 22-inch vertical jump (up from 21), and 24 bench reps of 225 pounds (up from 23). Weaver started at right tackle opposite current Falcon Lamar Holmes at Southern Miss in 2011. Similar to Holmes, he is a former JUCO transfer that was granted a sixth year of eligibility this past fall due to a knee injury he suffered in 2010. He is projected as a potential late round pick.

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