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Archive for April, 2010

Draft Central Migrated

April 28th, 2010 Comments off

You’ll notice that there have been a glut of posts added to the site. Well I’ve migrated all the articles and posts from our micro-site: FalcFans Draft Central over here to the main site now that the draft is over.
You can still be able to visit the micro-site as it will remain up for some time in order to preserve all the links, but as the next few months tend to be the doldrums of the NFL off-season, I’ll be working on getting those updated as well.

I added the micro-site in hopes that it would stand alone as a draft resource for Falcon fans, and I think it was somewhat successful. Not sure if I’ll be doing another one next year. Thought that by having a separate site devoted to the draft would free the main site of all the draft clutter. But it wound up neglecting the main site because the Falcons really did nothing outside the first weekend when it came to free agency and non-draft related off-season moves. Maybe that changes next year, but for now it appears FalcFans Draft Central as its own separate entity was just a fun one-year experiment.

If you hadn’t visited Draft Central, some of the highlights were the Mock Draft Muncher, the Finding the Fit series of articles including one in which we pegged Sean Weatherspoon as an excellent fit, a host of updates that include which players the Falcons were interested in and also worked out, and most recently the 2011 Draft Preview.

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2010 Falcons Free Agent Tracker

April 26th, 2010 1 comment

Tracking all the latest on the Atlanta Falcons in Free Agency.

You can find an updated list of the Falcons free agents here. Make sure to follow us on Twitter to keep get info as it happens.

Coming
3/16 – S Matt Giordano, FA/Packers (1 yr.) (story)
3/5 – CB Dunta Robinson, UFA/Texans (6 yrs.) (story)

Going
4/26 – S Charlie Peprah, UFA/Packers (story)
4/19 – TE Jason Rader, retirement (story)
4/16 – RB Aaron Stecker, UFA/retirement (story)
3/16 – CB Tye Hill, cut (story)
3/9 – WR James Swinton, cut (story)
3/8 – CB Chris Houston, trade/Lions (story)
3/4 – LS Mike Schneck, UFA/retirement (story)

Staying

4/19 – RB Jerious Norwood, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
4/19 – P Michael Koenen, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
4/15 – OT Tyson Clabo, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
4/15 – OG Harvey Dahl, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
4/15 – OG Quinn Ojinnaka, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
4/15 – RB Jason Snelling, RFA (1 yr.) (story)
3/9 – CB Brent Grimes, EFA (1 yr.) (story)
3/8 – LS Joe Zelenka, UFA (2 yrs.) (story)
3/4 – QB Chris Redman, UFA (2 yrs.) (story)
3/4 – CB Brian Williams, UFA (1 yr.) (story)
2/11 – WR Brian Finneran, UFA (1 yr.) (story)

Scheduled Visits
3/5 – CB Dunta Robinson, Texans

Rumored Interest
LB Karlos Dansby, Cardinals (source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel) (signed with Dolphins on 3/6)

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Falcons announce undrafted free agent signings

April 26th, 2010 Comments off

In addition to the eleven free agents listed on our undrafted free agent tracker, the Falcons announced four additional players on their official list.

Joining the group are cornerback Dominique Daniels (Nicholls State), wide receiver Brandyn Harvey (Villanova), kicker Garrett Lindholm (Tarleton State), and defensive end Emmanuel Stephens (Mississippi). They join tight ends Leroy Banks (Southern Miss), Michael Palmer (Clemson), and Colin Peek (Alabama), quarterback Tim Buckley (Alcorn State), safeties Rafael Bush (South Carolina State) and Gabe Derricks (San Diego), long snapper Justin Drescher (Colorado), linebackers Weston Johnson (Wyoming) and Bear Woods (Troy State), running back Dimitri Nance (Arizona State), and wide receiver Ryan Wolfe (UNLV).

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Grading the Falcons 2010 Draft

April 25th, 2010 Comments off

Now that I’ve had a day to let the draft sink in, everybody wants to start grading drafts. Well, here are mine:

1/19. LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
This pick didn’t have me jumping for joy, maybe because I expected it the minute Brandon Graham was snatched up by the Eagles. Perhaps I had set myself up to think we were going to fix our defensive end position with this pick. But that shouldn’t mean I’m disappointed with this pick at all. Weatherspoon is going to be a fixture on our defenses for years to come with the potential to make multiple Pro Bowls. He fits very well in our defense, with his speed, range, and his eagerness to hit. He has good coverage ability that means he’ll be able to cover tight ends like Kellen Winslow and backs like Reggie Bush in our division. His intensity and fierceness make him a near perfect match to put alongside Curtis Lofton. The only real question is just how soon will the Falcons try to reap the benefits of this selection. Weatherspoon is a natural weakside linebacker, and will be miscast on the strongside. The Falcons could move Peterson to the strongside where he played a bit in Jacksonville to try and put their best three linebackers on the field at once. Or they could keep Nicholas in the lineup, and instead trying to bring along Spoon a bit more slowly, incorporating him in subpackages, particularly on passing downs. It really doesn’t matter to me, either way I think Spoon will begin to make his presence known as a rookie. And he’ll almost certainly be the starter in 2011 regardless of what happens next year. GRADE: A

3/83. DT Corey Peters, Kentucky
Dimitroff indicated the team really wanted to address their depth at defensive tackle, and basically “reached” on Peters because they felt that he wasn’t going to be available later in the draft. I buy that, and I can understand why the Falcons liked Peters more than other defensive tackle prospects that were available. He has a good motor, is a capable pass rusher, and should fit nicely in our rotation behind our starters. I don’t really see starting potential with him, and in the middle of the third round you prefer to get guys that can start down the road. But Peters will definitely contribute even if it’s not as a starter. He should be the top tackle off the bench no later than 2011. GRADE: C+

3/98. OG Mike Johnson, Alabama
This pick really appears like the real coup of the Falcons draft. Johnson has Alan Faneca-like ability as a left guard. Johnson is one of the top run blockers in the entire class, and should be able to compete right off the start for a starting job at left guard. His ability to clear running lanes is exactly what the Falcons need at left guard, since Sam Baker is not exactly a road-grader. Johnson’s ability there will help offset that lacking ability from Baker, and allow the Falcons to be more productive running to the left. Johnson’s major weakness is that he’s inconsistent in pass protection. But Faneca has been the same way throughout much of his later career, but like Faneca he can also potentially be a fill-in at tackle as well, although his best position is left guard. Even if Johnson doesn’t unseat Blalock this summer, it’s highly likely that he’ll slide in as the starter in 2011 with Blalock headed to free agency. GRADE: A+

4/117. OC Joe Hawley, UNLV
I don’t know enough about Hawley to really have a strong opinion on this pick. He’s a center that can also play guard, a position he played more during his career than at center. But if he’s a physical player, and almost every thing I read suggests he is, he could be a nice developmental center. Basically he could be another Brett Romberg, and has a chance to be the heir apparent to Todd McClure at center at some point in the next year or two. He is not Alex Mack, but you don’t have to be in order to be a starting NFL center. GRADE: B

5/135. CB Dominique Franks, Oklahoma
Franks entered this draft early because the NFL draft advisory board probably told him he would be a second round pick back in January. Well they were obviously wrong, because he fell. But he could be a potential steal. Franks isn’t great, but is a solid corner that should definitely be able to compete for a starting job in the near future. For now, he’ll probably push Grimes and Owens for the nickel job, but with his size he could leapfrog both as the heir apparent to Brian Williams as the starter in 2011 and beyond. At the very least, he should add depth if not becoming a serviceable starter down the road. GRADE: B+

5/165. WR Kerry Meier, Kansas
Meier is a player you like when you watch him play. He has good hands, nice size, and does a good job moving the chains in Kansas wide-open spread attack. He was very productive, but I’m not convinced he’ll be a factor on offense at the NFL level because of a lack of burst and speed. He’s targeted to fill the role that Brian Finneran holds on the team, and his first duties will be on special teams. He’s a guy that I think could bulk up and work as a wideout/H-back, a role that Finneran filled for much of last season before he got hurt. GRADE: C

6/171. S Shann Schillinger, Montana
Schillinger was drafted to fill depth and will push Matt Giordano as the reserve free safety and special teams. Again, don’t know much about him, but I’m at least hopeful that there’s a chance he can be developed somewhat and fill the role as a reserve safety that Erik Coleman is expected to fill this year. If he can be a stud special teams player and a capable reserve a few years down the road, then this is a solid pick. GRADE: B-

OVERALL GRADE: B

This draft will largely be judged down the road on how good of NFL players Weatherspoon and Johnson will be. Both have Pro Bowl potential, and if they develop into that then no one is really going to care about the rest of this class. If Peters also develops into a solid No. 3 defensive tackle, Hawley is a competent starter, and Franks, Meier, and Schillinger can contribute off the bench, then that only makes this draft class stronger.

2011 Draft Preview

April 25th, 2010 Comments off

For draft fanatics like myself, the minute this draft over, you start to look toward the next year. Here is my 2011 Mock Draft for next year. But instead of trying to predict where teams will be picking, I’ll just rank players based off their potential to where they could be drafted. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. There are many rising seniors and juniors I have not seen play that are top players, but this is based off my own observations. This appears to be set up for another year where the junior class makes up the bulk of the top half.

Jake Locker, QB

Jake Locker, Washington

1. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (Senior)
Locker has all the tools to be a top quarterback. Frankly, if he makes significant improvement this year with another year under Steve Sarkisian, I might be willing to consider him the greatest quarterback prospect I’ve ever seen. Now I must qualify that is that I’ve only been paying attention since 2001. The reason for that is the amount of improvement Locker has shown since his freshman year where he completed only 47% of his passes and had 14:15 TD-INT ratio and was more like Eric Crouch as a running quarterback. This past year, that number was 58% and 21:11. If he can get that number up to around 65% and 30:10, then that sort of improvement is uncanny. Locker still trusts his legs a bit too much, but if he gets to a point where he trusts his arm to a similar level, he’ll be as good a prospect as any franchise QB to come out since Peyton Manning, if not better.

2. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas (Junior)
He has room to grow but with his size (6-6/240) and big arm, he has all the tools that NFL scouts love. He plays in Arkansas spread offense, unlike the pro style system that Locker employs, so that can hurt his stock. But for a second team looking for a big-armed and talented at the top of the draft could have their eyes set on Mallett.

3. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (Junior)
Many compare Ingram to Emmitt Smith, and with his vision, burst, and power, it makes sense. The Heisman winner will have a target on his back from defenses this season, and from NFL scouts, so his stock could dip by next April. But if he can stay healthy, one imagines he’ll be considered a top back going into 2011.

4. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin (Senior)
Carimi is another solid Big Ten tackle. He probably isn’t a great prospect, but he has good size (6-7/325), strength, and ability as a run blocker. He’s probably not quite the athlete most teams look for in a top offensive tackle prospect, but until someone emerges from this class, he looks to be near the top.

5. Don’ta Hightower, ILB, Alabama (Junior)
He’ll presumably slide in the spot vacated by Rolando McClain. He was injured for much of last year, but in some early games actually outplayed McClain. If he can continue that this year then he stands a good chance to be a Top 10 pick like his ex-teammate. If you project his production from his 4 appearances last year to a full 14-game season, he would have had 56 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

Read more…

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Undrafted Free Agent Tracker

April 25th, 2010 1 comment

Now that the draft is over, it becomes a flurry of signings as undrafted free agents quickly try to land homes in the NFL. We’ll be monitoring which players land with the Falcons.

TE Leroy Banks, Southern Miss
QB Tim Buckley, Alcorn State
S Rafael Bush, South Carolina State
S Gabe Derricks, San Diego
LS Justin Drescher, Colorado
LB Weston Johnson, Wyoming
RB Dimitri Nance, Arizona State
TE Michael Palmer, Clemson
TE Colin Peek, Alabama
WR Ryan Wolfe, UNLV
LB Bear Woods, Troy

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Falcons close out draft with Schillinger

April 24th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons used their final scheduled pick of the 2010 draft, their lone sixth round pick on Montana safety Shann Schillinger.

Schillinger (6′ 202) was productive while at Montana. He had 249 career tackles, most of which came his final two years as a starter. He also added 10 career interceptions. He stood out during the Texas vs. the Nation All-star week. He clocked a 4.53 40 time during his pro day in March.

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Falcons take Meier in the fifth

April 24th, 2010 Comments off

With their second pick in the fifth round, a compensatory pick at 165th overall, the Falcons took Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier.

Meier adds size at the wide receiver position with a 6’2″ 215 frame. He could potentially move to tight end down the road if he continues to add bulk. He was very productive in Kansas’s spread attack the past two seasons, combining for 199 catches, 2030 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He began his career at Kansas as their starting quarterback before moving to wide receiver as a sophomore.

Click here to read a scouting report on Meier.

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Falcons trade up for Franks

April 24th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons gave up their fifth round pick (No. 149 overall) and their second sixth round pick (No. 189)  to the St. Louis Rams to move up 14 spots in round five to get a cornerback, Dominique Franks out of Oklahoma.

Franks adds some size (5’11″ 194) and speed (4.46) to the Falcons secondary. He provided big plays on Oklahoma’s defense, scoring 3 defensive touchdowns during his career. He also adds value as a punt returner.

Click here to read a scouting report on Franks.

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Falcons take center Hawley

April 24th, 2010 Comments off

With their fourth round selection, the Falcons took UNLV center Joe Hawley.

The Falcons worked out Hawley on campus in March, and obviously came away impressed. Hawley impressed with 35 bench reps at the Combine.

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