DE Cliff Matthews
The Falcons closed out their 2011 draft class by taking South Carolina defensive end Cliff Matthews with their second seventh round pick (230th overall).
Matthews was a productive player at South Carolina, before injuries limited him as a junior and senior. He combined for 91 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks the past year. He began his career as a top-rated prep prospect and linebacker. He has drawn some comparisons to a poor man’s John Abraham, who also hails from USC.
Matthews potentially can upgrade the Falcons pass rushing rotation and could press Lawrence Sidbury and Chauncey Davis immediately for duty.
Click here to read a scouting report on Matthews.
Here are the Falcons 2011 draft picks:
OG Andrew Jackson
The Falcons took Fresno State guard Andrew Jackson with their seventh round pick (210th overall), the first of two they hold in the round.
Jackson missed most of this past season with an ankle injury, but entered the year as a top-rated guard. He dealt with back injuries during his junior year as well. But when Jackson has been healthy, he has been a solid interior player. Played primarily right guard for Fresno State, and gives the Falcons good depth at that position. The team may not be in a position to re-sign both starting guards in Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl, making their need for depth up front a priority. The Falcons tend to prioritize guys with mean streak, and that’s something that Jackson has.
Click here to read a scouting report on Jackson.
P Matt Bosher
The Falcons drafted Miami punter Matt Bosher with their sixth round pick (192nd overall). Bosher was a productive dual threat punter and kicker while at Miami, but looks like he’ll play the former with the Falcons.
The selection of Bosher could mean the end of Michael Koenen’s career with the Falcons. He hit 85% of his 53 career field goal attempts, and averaged 41.7 yards on 234 career punts. He did a good job with his placement and field position, putting 70 punts inside the 20 and forcing 82 fair catches. He should benefit in transitioning to the NFL by moving from the warm weather of South Florida to the controlled environment of the Georgia Dome.
Click here to read a scouting report on Bosher.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
The Falcons moved up in the fifth round to get the player they wanted in running back Jacquizz Rodgers, out of Oregon State. The team swapped fifth round picks with the St. Louis Rams, moving up from pick No. 158 to No. 145, and gave up one of their seventh round picks (No. 229) to facilitate the trade.
Rodgers was a productive back for the Oregon State team and was the focus of many a Pac-10 defender for the past three seasons. In those years, he combined for 3877 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdowns, and 151 receptions. Undersized, standing at only 5-6, 196 pounds, Rodgers draws comparisons with other undersized backs like Darren Sproles, Warrick Dunn, and Maurice Jones-Drew who have gone on to have NFL success.
Rodgers gives the Falcons another reliable third down option that can be effective in the passing game and be a quick, change of pace back behind the more powerful runners in Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.
Click here to read a scouting report on Rodgers.
LB Akeem Dent
The Falcons went with a local product by selecting Georgia inside linebacker Akeem Dent with their third round selection (91st overall).
Dent was a productive, tackling machine for the Georgia Bulldogs this past year, recording 126 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks playing inside in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme. He previously played strongside outside linebacker when Georgia had their 4-3 scheme prior to 2010. It’s likely that Dent will be able to add depth at both MIKE and SAM linebacker. Dent brings a comparable physical swagger and playing style as other current Falcon linebackers like Curtis Lofton, Sean Weatherspoon, and Stephen Nicholas.
Click here to read a scouting report on Dent.
One of the positives for the draft’s three-day format is that it gives us time to reflect on the moves of the first round. This is the money round, where teams do the most to help, as well as potentially hurt their teams. It’s much too soon to know how this draft will turn out, but that’s not going to stop me.
Most teams think they’ve hit homeruns, but rarely do they really do. Half a dozen or so teams probably landed a guy that will make multiple Pro Bowls. Most teams will land good players that will be solid starters for them that will be productive, but not great. But some teams will be looking back at this draft five years from now and scratching their heads.
Here are the 5 best picks of Round 1:
WR Julio Jones: Was he worth it?
First of all, I really like Julio Jones. I really think he’s going to be a very good Falcon. I think he’s going to come in right away and make plays and be a good third option in the Falcons offense. He can come in and bolster the slot position, block, and make plays down the field. If/when Tony Gonzalez hangs it up after this season, Jones will slide in very well in his vacant niche as Ryan’s second favorite target, third down chain mover, and secondary redzone target after Roddy White. His physical presence is going to make it very hard for opposing teams to match up with us in the coming years. He is the prototype as far as fit for the Falcons receiver position. Short of picking up A.J. Green, they couldn’t have found a better offensive player to help them make the next leap forward on that side of the ball.
But in the end, I think that may be all for naught. The Falcons mortgaged their future for Jones, and in particular their defensive future. The Falcons traded their second and fourth round picks this year, and first and fourth round picks next year to go up and get Jones. That’s four players that the Falcons gave up to get Jones. The first and second rounders were very likely to be good starters for the team. And if you just get a decent starter with one of the fourth round picks, you’ve basically given up three starters for one.
And there’s simply no way that Jones is going to be able to make up for that. Particularly when you consider he’s a wide receiver. I personally believe that wide receivers are the most overvalued position in the draft. I’m a firm believer in the notion that wide receivers are nothing more than shiny hood ornaments, a theory purported by Cold Hard Football Facts.
WR Julio Jones
As rumored earlier, the Falcons did indeed trade up in the first round and took one of the top wide receivers with the sixth pick in the draft by taking Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
The Falcons traded their first, second, and fourth round picks this year, along with their first and fourth picks in 2012 to swap with the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons were likely attracted to Jones unique blend of size and speed, coupled with his ability to generate big plays on what was the league’s 32nd ranked team in terms of generating 20+ yard pass plays. Jones is also known for his physicality and ability as a blocker, which should mesh well opposite Roddy White and with the Falcons physical run-oriented offensive attack.
Click here to read a scouting report on Jones.
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