Archive for March, 2007

Adopting a new draft strategy

March 27th, 2007 1 comment

Okay, originally I was all about Adrian Peterson. But less so now. The more I’m hearing about LaRon Landry, the more I want him. I’m just intrigued with the comparisons to Brian Dawkins.

If Landry is indeed potentially that good, then I say take him. Peterson is a hugely talented running back, but finding quality at that position is much easier than finding a Dawkins-esque safety.

Not to mention, I believe the safety class is pretty weak once you get past Landry and Reggie Nelson. Michael Griffin doesn’t impress me. I think he would be a middle round prospect if not for the fact he went to Texas. Had he gone to Washington State or something, we would be talking about him as a fourth rounder as opposed to a potential first rounder. And Brandon Meriweather is simply a thug. The very fact that Meriweather felt it was necessary for him to legally possess a gun while in college says a lot.

The running back class is a lot deeper, when you consider the Falcons meager needs at that position. We really only need a power runner that can be a complement to Dunn/Norwood’s speed. I really like Brian Leonard, but there are others. And of course there is Michael Bush. His medical issues will have to be monitored, but if he’s going to be 100% by November, I say take a chance on him.

I’m favoring the draft strategy of trading up to get Landry rather than going after Peterson or Calvin Johnson. I think we may have to leapfrog the Vikings for that to occur. I’m sure they too want Landry. Darren Sharper probably won’t be a Viking after this season, so getting his replacement now would be a good move for them.

The Redskins definitely are looking to trade down. But now there’s talk with them shipping the No. 6 pick to Chicago. But even if they do, I suspect the only player that high in the draft that would interest the Bears would be Amobi Okoye, and they can move down two spots, pick up an extra 3rd round pick and still get him no problem by trading with us.

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Falcons claim Bryant

March 27th, 2007 Comments off

The Falcons signed defensvie tackle Anthony Bryant, claiming him off waivers. He was released by the Detroit Lions on Monday. Bryant appeared in four games last season, starting the final three for the Lions at nose tackle due to injuries. He finished the season with 8 tackles and 1 fumble recovery.

The massive 337-pounder was sixth round pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2005. He played in four games with the Bucs as a rookie before being released prior to the start of the 2006 season. He spent half the season on the Bucs practice squad before being signed by the Lions late in the year.

This move may mean the end of the teams attempts to bolster the nose tackle position. The team had been in talks with free agents Ian Scott and Seth Payne, but seemingly broke off talks this past weekend. Bryant is expected compete with Tommy Jackson and Darrell Shropshire for a backup position behind Grady Jackson this upcoming summer.

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Two compensatory picks awarded to Falcons

March 27th, 2007 Comments off

The Falcons will receive two more draft picks this upcoming April, bringing their total to 10. The two picks are among 32 compensatory draft picks handed out by the league each year. They are awarded to teams based off an undisclosed formula that compensates them for lost free agents from the prior year. These picks are added at the end of rounds 3 through 7 of the draft.

Although not officially known, the Falcons two picks likely correspond to the free agent losses of offensive linemen Kevin Shaffer and Barry Stokes last off-season.

The first of the two picks will be the 34rth pick in round 4, or 133rd overall. The other pick will be the 34th pick of round 7, or 244th overall. The Falcons now have a draft pick in each round, along with two picks in the second round and three in round four. The team previously had given up its seventh round pick to the New Orleans Saints as part of the conditions that netted offensive tackle Wayne Gandy last year.

By rule, compensatory picks cannot be traded.

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Falcons will host Colts on Thanskgiving Night

March 27th, 2007 Comments off

The league announced that the Falcons will play host to Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving Night in 2007. This is the second ever Thanksgiving game for the Falcons, after playing the Detroit Lions in 2005. It will also mark the first time a Thanksgiving Day game will be played in the Georgia Dome.

It also marks the third consecutive season in which the Falcons hosted the defending Super Bowl champion, after squaring off with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past year, and the New England Patriots in 2005.

The game will begin at 8:15 EST and will be aired on the NFL Network. The remainder of the 2007 schedule will not be announced until early next month.

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Interest in Scott and Rattay waning

March 26th, 2007 Comments off

AJC writer Steve Wyche writes that the Falcons interest in signing defensive tackle Ian Scott and quarterback Tim Rattay is waning. Wyche indicates that the reasons for this lessening pursuit is unknown currently.

Conflicting sources expected that Scott would choose to sign soon with a team, either the Falcons or his former team the Chicago Bears, but that seems unlikely at this point.

The team was in talks with Rattay about joining the team as the primary backup to Michael Vick, replacing a recently traded Matt Schaub. It is unknown if the team has lost interest in free agent passer Anthony Wright as well.

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Falcons remain interested in free agent QBs

March 26th, 2007 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter reports that the Falcons have contacted free agent passer Tim Rattay about their backup quarterback position. The Falcons signed free agent Chris Redman last week, but since he has not thrown a pass in a game since 2003, the Falcons feel like the position could be addressed further.

The AJC article also writes that the Falcons remain interested in quarterback Anthony Wright about taking over the position. ESPN has even reported that former Falcon passer Jeff George has contacted the team about joining them. Although it’s doubtful that the Falcons have serious interest in George. George has not thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2001.

Rattay spent the past two seasons with the Buccaneers. He started two games last season, going 1-1. His 88.2 passer rating, 60.4 completion percentage, and 4:2 touchdown-interception ratio were the highest on the team. He began the 2005 season as the starter for the 49ers, but was benched after the team started off 1-3 under him. The 49ers traded him to the Bucs prior to the trading deadline, and he was inactive for most of the remaining season.

Over five and half seasons with the 49ers, he started a total of 16 games, going 4-12. He was an efficient passer, completing 60.8% of his passes for 3941 yards, with 24 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and a passer rating of 81.6.

Anthony Wright most recently played with the Cincinnati Bengals. He only threw 3 passes last season, but completed all of them for 31 yards. He started 7 games with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, completing 61.7% of his passes for 1582 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. The Ravens went 2-5 in that span. In 2003, he finished the season as the starter as well, with the team going 5-2 in his seven-game span as the starter. The Falcons would mark the fifth team of Wright since joining the league as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1999. There was also a two-year span where he was a backup in Dallas.

It is likely that the team will try and add a more experienced backup such as Rattay or Wright to handle the No. 2 position behind Michael Vick. That position was recently vacated when the Falcons decided to trade Matt Schaub to the Texans. That would mean that Redman is expected to push D.J. Shockley and James Kilian for the No. 3 position on the depth chart.

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Scott now expected to sign with Falcons

March 26th, 2007 Comments off

AJC writer D. Orlando Ledbetter projected that Scott would re-sign with the Chicago Bears today. However, John Mullin of the Chicago Tribune and Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald both write that due to the Bears signing of free agent Anthony Adams, free agent Ian Scott is now expected to sign with the Falcons.

It’s unknown which of the conflicting reports is more accurate. There has been no formal timetable for Scott to make a decision.

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Falcons negotiating with Scott

March 25th, 2007 Comments off

Several sources, including the AJC, indicate that the Falcons are in the midst of negotiations with free agent defensive tackle Ian Scott, of the Chicago Bears.

Scott, a run stuffer, has been key to the success of Bears Pro Bowl linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs the past few seasons, since he is able to keep blockers off them. He entered the starting lineup in 2004, which was his best season in which he recorded 44 tackles and 2 sacks. He only started 8 games last year, partially due to the emergence Tank Johnson. He finished the year with 22 tackles.

Scott would play the nose tackle positon, a move that could potentially push starter Grady Jackson off the roster. ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli writes that the Falcons brass may be weary about potential looming weight and contract issues with Jackson, and the Denver Post even mentions him as a potential cap casualty later in the spring or summer.

Scott visited the Minnesota Vikings last week, and the Bears are still reportedly interested in retaining Scott due to Johnson’s four-month jail sentence.

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Falcons sign kicker

March 23rd, 2007 Comments off

The Falcons signed free agent kicker Aaron Elling. Elling’s addition may mean the end of Morten Andersen’s brief comeback to the NFL.

Elling has not been successful on a field goal attempt since the season opener in 2004. He was released by the Ravens this past summer. His last stint in the league was in 2005 with the Ravens, where he served primarily as their kickoff specialist. He had a single field goal attempt that season, missing a 54-yard attempt.

Elling’s most extensive experience came in 2003 with the Minnesota Vikings. He connected on 18 of 25 field goals (72%) that season, finishing with 102 points. Over his career, Elling has kicked off 148 times, averaging 61.6 yards per kick, with 3 touchbacks. He also has experience as a punter. He has punted the ball a total of 7 times for 304 yards (43.4 avg) with 2 placed inside the 20-yard line.

He originally entered the league in 2001 as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins. He failed to catch on in Miami, as well as with the Seahawks the following summer before finally landing in Minnesota in 2003.

Currently, the Falcons are without a kicker on their roster. With Elling signed, the Falcons won’t be pressured to add a kicker in the draft, but it’s likely they will bring in some competition for him.

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Barbre also on Falcons pre-draft lists

March 23rd, 2007 Comments off reports that Missouri Southern State offensive tackle Allen Barbre is another draft prospect scheduled to visit the Falcons in the coming weeks.

The 6’4″ 300 Division II All-American impressed at last month’s combine. His 4.84 40-yard dash time was the fastest among all offensive linemen, and his 32-inch vertical leap and 28 bench reps of 225-pounds also were among the tops at his position, displaying his excellent all-around athleticism.

Barbre was a fixture at left tackle for Missouri Southern since midway through his freshman season and recorded 2254 knockdowns over his career.

He is rated as the tenth best offensive tackle by NFL Draft Countdown, and is considered a second day prospect by NFL Draft Scout. However, there is some debate on whether Barbre will begin his NFL career at tackle or guard.

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