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Archive for April, 2009

Sidbury adds to Falcons pass rush

April 26th, 2009 Comments off

The Falcons continue their goals of upgrading the defense with their fourth defensive pick of the 2009 draft by taking defensive end Lawrence Sidbury in the fourth round (125th overall). Sidbury, out of Richmond, had a strong senior season.

As a senior, Sidbury had 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. At 6’2″ 266, he’s undersized but is a productive speed rusher off the edge. Sidbury ran the top 40 time at the Combine of 4.64, making some teams start to look at him as an outside linebacker.

The Falcons are looking to add a pass rusher that can play opposite standout John Abraham. Sidbury has a chance to become a significant part of the Falcons rotation if he can provide that.

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Second day of draft kicks off with Owens

April 26th, 2009 Comments off

he Falcons continue their push to improve the defense by taking San Jose State cornerback Christopher Owens with their third round pick (90th overall).

A bit undersized at 5’10″ 181, Owens was a productive player at San Jose State. A three-year starter with 13 career interceptions and 20 pass break ups. He had his most productive year as a junior with six interceptions, where he was constantly tested due the presence of Dwight Lowery across the field who started 10 games this past year as a fourth round pick for the New York Jets. This past year his production slipped to only 1 interception, perhaps because opposing teams learned their lesson from the previous year.

Owens helps bolster the Falcons cornerback position, as the team hopes he can alleviate the loss of free agent corner Domonique Foxworth. Owens can potentially push and challenge for a starting position right away.

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Five Best/Worst Moves of First Round

April 26th, 2009 Comments off

Now that we’ve had time to let it sink in a bit, I’m looking at the five moves I think were the best and worst from the first round of the draft. It may be great because a team got a good value later in the round or made a smart trade or got a really good fit. And it may be bad because teams didn’t do exactly that.

BEST MOVES

1. Mark Sanchez – The Jets gave up 3 scrubs and a 2nd round pick to move up into the Top 5 of the draft to get a franchise QB. It was a brilliant move.

2. Aaron Curry – The best player in the draft fell to the Seahawks at No. 4. Yes, they could have taken the QB or OT here, each would have been smart picks. But Curry gives them great immediate value and will fit nicely in their defense. Within a year or two he could be one of the most feared defenders in the league.

3. Knowshon Moreno – Sure, people will say the Broncos had needs on defense, but at this point in the draft there really isn’t a great value pick for the Broncos 3-4 scheme. There are some players that can work in that scheme, but nobody that really jumps out of you that is wort the 12th pick. Moreno will fit very well in Denver and is better than all of the Broncos running backs combined.

4. Michael Oher – The Ravens got a great value here as Oher has the potential to be a dominant right tackle. They really wanted to get a physical run blocker to replace Willie Anderson, and Oher is exactly that.

5. Hakeem Nicks – I’m not enamored with Nicks like some people, but he’s a really good fit in New York that if he and Eli Manning can get on the same page quickly could be a very valuable asset as the Giants try to make it back to the Super Bowl.

WORST MOVES

1. Darrius Heyward-Bey – What can I say? Al Davis has lost it. Heyward-Bey is a great track star, but is a middle round talent as far as receivers go because of bad hands and character. Mark my words, this move may even be worse than Troy Williamson.

2. Josh Freeman – Count me as one of the people that isn’t enamored with Josh Freeman. He’s got potential, but I’m not sure he has the tools to be a better option than any of the quarterbacks already on the roster.

3. Jeremy Maclin – Maclin will be valuable in Philly because of the big play element he brings to the offense. But he’s basically the same player as DeSean Jackson, and Jackson was a much better receiver coming out of school than Maclin. I think the Eagles just drafted a return specialist in the Top 20. I think they needed a threat on the outside at WR, which Maclin is not.

4. Percy Harvin – He’s a great talent, but I’m not sure Harvin really is going to be an impact playmaker at receiver. He’ll be abe to provide a spark every now and then for the Vikings, but I can’t see why you don’t take Oher at that slot given the Vikings needs at offensive tackle. Berrian and Rice aren’t the problem in Minnesota.

5. Robert Ayers – He may have been one of the more overrated prospects entering the draft, and I’m not sure how well he’s going to fit in the Broncos 3-4 scheme. He’ll be effective, but whether he lives up to a first round billing remains to be seen.

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2009 NFL Draft – Day 1 Review

April 25th, 2009 1 comment

It’s hard to put into precise words the feelings that fans around the world have when it comes to the NFL Draft. Some would say exciting, some would say nerve-racking, and some would say frustrating. Some teams today must have fanbases very confused and frustrated (Oakland, what’s up?). However, for the Atlanta Falcons, their fanbase should be filled with happy and excited members right now.

The Falcons went into the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft with the 24th pick in the first round and the 23rd pick in the second. They came away with two potential all-stars — both hard-workers on and off the field and both high character guys.

With the 24th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Peria Jerry, defensive tackle from Ole Miss. What I love about Peria Jerry is his work ethic. Many scouts go on and on about how hard this kid works. When it comes to drafting players, that’s exactly the type of thing that Thomas Dimitroff likes seeing in his players. Now with that said, Peria Jerry will have to use that hard work and dedication of his to tune up his weaknesses. He’s not exactly a prototypical 4-3 nose-tackle seeing that he’s barely 300 lbs (he’s currently listed as 299 lbs) and does not possess a frame to get much bigger. Overall, I would grade this pick a solid B. Peria Jerry is an excellent pass rusher and still has upside. Although it’s not a flashy pick, it’s certainly an understandable pick seeing that we needed help at the defensive tackle and we needed to provide some aid to both John Abraham and the secondary.

With the 23rd pick of the second round, the Atlanta Falcons selected William Moore, safety from Missouri. I can say a lot about this pick and this player. I’m surprised Moore fell to our pick in this round because I personally believe he is a type of player that every coach would like to have on their team. He’s a born leader; he led Missouri’s defense and was often the only player making plays on a team that really needed them this year. He’ll be the type of player Milloy was this year except he will have upside to get a lot better – which is why I think William Moore was the perfect player to replace Milloy with. Moore is also not afraid to get down and dirty defending against the run and laying the hard hits on receivers and tight ends alike. Although Moore still needs to develop better coverage skills, I think we came away from this spot of the draft with a lot of value. I grade this pick a walloping A+. I was jumping up and down the room when this pick was called… (unfortunately, I was jumping up and down too much that I hit the light in the middle of my room and shattered it, so after I publish this post I plan on cleaning that up.)

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Falcons want Moore in the second

April 25th, 2009 Comments off

With their second round pick (55th overall), the Atlanta Falcons selected Missouri safety William Moore. Moore was considered one of the top safeties entering the 2008 season, but saw his stock drop some due to subpar production.

In 2007 as a junior, Moore picked off 8 passes and made 117 tackles as the top playmaker on Missouri’s defense. But as a senior, his production fell off to 1 interception and 86 tackles.

Moore will likely compete for a starting safety spot for the Falcons. He played free safety at Missouri, but could slide to strong safety as a potential replacement for Lawyer Milloy, who was lost via free agency.

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Falcons take Peria Jerry in Round 1

April 25th, 2009 Comments off

The Falcons opened up their 2008 draft class by selecting defensive tackle Peria Jerry with the 24th pick in the first round. Jerry was one of the top rated interior defensive linemen out of Mississippi.

Jerry had a strong finish to his collegiate career, recording 18 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and 49 tackles. The 6’2″ 299-pound player was touted for his pass rushing ability on the inside.

He’ll help shore up the Falcons interior pass rush and run defense, after having lost Grady Jackson to free agency this past off-season.

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Tracking the Falcons Draft Interest 2009

April 24th, 2009 Comments off

In 2008, 5 of the 11 players the Falcons selected appeared on last year’s list of player interest. Using various sources, including NFL.com, Scout.com, New Era Scouting, AJC.com, and NFL Draft Countdown, to name a few along with local papers, we have compiled the following list of players that the Falcons have shown some level of interest in this off-season…

Private Workouts

Teams are limited to only 30 private workouts with prospects, however local players do not count against that total. If dates of workouts are specified, they are indicated in parentheses.

QB Tom Brandstater, Fresno State (April 13)
WR Aaron Kelly, Clemson (April 16)
TE Chase Coffman, Missouri
TE Jared Cook, South Carolina
TE Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
TE Ryan Purvis, Boston College (March 13)
OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
OG/OT T.J. Lang, Eastern Michigan
OG Duke Robinson, Oklahoma (April 16)
OG Brandon Walker, Oklahoma
OC Antoine Caldwell, Alabama
OC Jon Cooper, Oklahoma
OC Alex Mack, California (April 3)
OC Eric Wood, Louisville (April 12-13)
DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee
DE Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
DE Larry English, Northern Illinois
DE Tyson Jackson, LSU
DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech (April 16)
DE Kyle Moore, USC (April 4, on campus)
DE Julius Williams, Connecticut (April 16)
DT Evander Hood, Missouri (March 30)
DT Fili Moala, USC (April 4, on campus)
LB Brian Cushing, USC (April 4, on campus)
LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
LB Kaluka Maiava, USC (April 4, on campus)
LB Clay Matthews, USC (April 4, on campus)
LB Rey Maualuga, USC (April 4, on campus)
LB Clint Sintim, Virginia
CB Asher Allen, Georgia (April 16)
CB Vince Anderson, Webber International
CB Darius Butler, Connecticut
CB Bradley Fletcher, Iowa
CB Cary Harris, USC (April 4, on campus)
CB Chris Owens, San Jose State (April 5)
CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
CB Jahi Word-Daniels, Georgia Tech (April 16)
CB/S Sherrod Martin, Troy (April 16)
CB/S Glover Quin, New Mexico
S Patrick Chung, Oregon
S Louis Delmas, Western Michigan (April 10)
S Justin Garrett, Missouri
S De’Mon Glanton, Mississippi State (April 16)
S Courtney Greene, Rutgers (March 28)
S Rashad Johnson, Alabama
S William Moore, Missouri (April 6)
S Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest (April 7, on campus)

Reported Interest

These are primarily players that the team was reportedly interested in to talk with or interview at different all-star games, the Combine, or were noted for being at attendance of their pro days. If and when it becomes known that some of these players have scheduled or completed private workouts with the team, then their name will be moved to the above list accordingly.

QB Nate Davis, Ball State
QB Drew Willy, Buffalo
FB Brock Bolen, Louisville
WR Dudley Guice, Northwestern State
WR Kenny McKinley, South Carolina
WR Darius Passmore, Marshall
TE J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State
OT Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
OT Nick Hennessey, Colgate
OT Cornelius Lewis, Tennessee State
OG Paul Fanaika, Arizona State
OG Andy Levitre, Oregon State
OG Rich Ohrnberger, Penn State
OC A.Q. Shipley, Penn State
DE Ataefiok Etukeren, Georgetown
DE Orion Martin, Virginia Tech
DE Jeff Schweiger, San Jose State
DE/DT Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
DT John Gill, Northwestern
DE/LB Cody Brown, Connecticut
LB Russell Allen, San Diego State
LB Darry Beckwith, LSU
LB DeAndre Levy, Wisconsin
LB Jason Williams, Western Illinois
LB/S Nic Harris, Oklahoma
CB Marrio Norman, Coastal Carolina
S Chris Clemons, Clemson
P Kevin Huber, Cincinnati

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McClure not expected to retire or holdout

April 23rd, 2009 Comments off

Earlier this month, a report appeared on ProFootballTalk.com reporting that the Falcons might move in a different direction from starting center Todd McClure due to his holding out from voluntary off-season workouts. Earlier today, Dan Parr of Pro Football Weekly indicated those reports are overblown.

Pro Football Talk reported that McClure is seeking a new deal and is holding out from off-season workouts and threatening retirement. It also indicated that the Falcons in response to McClure’s actions started looking at free agent centers including Jeremy Newberry.

Pro Football Weekly reports that while McClure is seeking a new contract, he is not expected to miss mandatory workouts later in the off-season and is not facing pressure from the Falcons for missing the workouts. Parr’s report indicates that the Falcons would like to add a young center via the draft to groom behind McClure, but are not considering to replace him in the near future. The Falcons also aren’t likely to give into McClure’s desires to have a new deal.

McClure signed a new five-year contract extension in December 2006 worth $10 million.

Brett Romberg, center was one of the two free agents signed this off-season as well.

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Falcons acquire Gonzalez for 2010 pick

April 23rd, 2009 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced that they have acquired Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez via trade from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a second round pick in 2010.

Gonzalez, a 12-year veteran has made 10 straight Pro Bowls with Chiefs averaging 76 catches and more than 6 touchdowns since entering the league as a first round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft.

The Falcons attempted to acquire Gonzalez last year before the trade deadline, but the deal fell through because Gonzalez didn’t want to play for the team. Reports surfaced recently that the Falcons were still interested in Gonzalez, and clearly Gonzalez has decided to change his mind. Likely in part because of the team’s turnaround last season as they went on to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance.

Gonzalez, 33, despite his age has still managed to continue producing at a high level. He caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, tops among tight ends.

The Falcons have attempted to upgrade their tight end position this off-season, by working out several top prospects at the position as well as showing interest in free agent L.J. Smith. They have done just that with arguably the best possible candidate.

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2009 Free Agent Tracker

April 23rd, 2009 Comments off

Here’s all the scoop you’ll need about what the Falcons are doing this off-season in free agency…

Comings

Apr. 23 – TE Tony Gonzalez (trade/Chiefs)
Mar. 9 – LB Mike Peterson (UFA/Jaguars, 2 yrs.)
Mar. 9 – C Brett Romberg (UFA/Rams, 2 yrs.)

Goings

Apr. 6 – WR Laurent Robinson (traded to Rams)
Mar. 4 – DT Grady Jackson (UFA/Lions, 3 yrs.)
Feb. 28 – LB Keith Brooking (UFA/Cowboys, 5 yrs.)
Feb. 28 – LB Michael Boley (UFA/Giants, 5 yrs.)
Feb. 27 – CB Domonique Foxworth (UFA/Ravens, 4 yrs.)

Staying

Apr. 16 – G Harvey Dahl (RFA, 1 yr.)
Mar. 3 – DE Chauncey Davis (UFA, 4 yrs.)
Mar. 3 – T Renardo Foster (EFA, 1 yr.)
Mar. 3 – CB Brent Grimes (EFA, 1 yr.)
Mar. 3 – S Antoine Harris (EFA, 1 yr.)
Feb. 27 – S Jamaal Fudge (RFA, 1 yr.)
Feb. 26 – LB Tony Gilbert (UFA, 1 yr.)
Feb. 26 – DT Jason Jefferson (UFA, 2 yrs.)
Feb. 26 – TE Justin Peelle (UFA, 3 yrs.)
Feb. 26 – RB Jason Snelling (EFA, 1 yr.)
Feb. 26 – LB Coy Wire (UFA, 2 yrs.)
Feb. 26 – C Ben Wilkerson (UFA, 1 yr.)

Scheduled Visits

Mar. 9 – LB Mike Peterson, Jaguars
Mar. 6 – T Daniel Loper, Titans (cancelled)
Mar. 5 – C Brett Romberg, Rams
Mar. 5 – TE L.J. Smith, Eagles
Mar. 3 – DE Mike Montgomery, Packers (cancelled)

Rumored Interest

CB Jabari Greer, Bills (source: Scout.com; signed with Saints)
S Darren Sharper, Vikings (source: Chicago Tribune; signed with Saints)
DE Antonio Smith, Cardinals (source: NFL.com; signed with Texans)
DE Paul Spicer, Jaguars (source: ProFootballTalk.com; signed with Saints)

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