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Archive for March, 2013

Grimes lands in Miami

March 31st, 2013 Comments off

Reported yesterday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and then confirmed by the team, former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Grimes first joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Division II school Shippensburg University in 2006. He would be allocated to NFL Europe the following spring before making the Falcons practice squad the ensuing fall. He would be promoted to the roster in October 2007 and rise to become starter in 2008. He would lose the job before regaining it late in 2009 due to injuries and lead the team with 6 interceptions. He would become a Pro Bowler in 2010 and continued his high level of play again in 2011. But he suffered an Achilles tear in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs this past season, missing the remainder of the season.

Currently the leading candidate to start at cornerback opposite Asante Samuel is Robert McClain.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 26 “IHateDuntaRobinson.com”

March 30th, 2013 Comments off

On this week’s episode, I am joined by Allen Strk and Tom Melton to recap the Falcons free agent moves as well as look forward to what the team could do in April’s draft. You’ll hear our thoughts on the acquisitions of Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson, as well as the team re-signing players like Sam Baker and William Moore. You’ll also hear our opinions on what are the chances that Brent Grimes and John Abraham suit up for the team in 2013. As we venture into the draft, you’ll hear opinions on whether the Falcons should prioritize improving the pass rush or their coverage on the back-end. You’re hear opinions on a couple of first round targets such as Datone Jones, Desmond Trufant, and Johnthan Banks. The conversation then returns back to the Falcons, and whether players like Tyson Clabo, Jonathan Babineaux, and Stephen Nicholas’s days as Falcons might be numbered. We debate whether Peria Jerry or Jamaal Anderson proved to be a better pick. Thoughts about what options the Falcons may have at improving their linebacker and wide receiver play will also be discussed. We pine over the memories of Eric Weems, and shed no tears for the departed Dunta Robinson.

Ep. 26: IHateDuntaRobinson.com [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Tom Melton writes for his own blog at Tom Melton Scouting, as well as NFL Draft Monsters and the newly formed DraftFalcons.com. You can find him on twitter: @TMeltonScouting

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons finally add with Osi

March 28th, 2013 Comments off

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Osi Umenyiora

As first reported by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, and later confirmed by the team, the Falcons agreed to a two-year deal with defensive end Osi Umenyiora late Wednesday evening. It was a move that was believed to be in the pipeline since last week and was initially expected to be done over the weekend. But it took a few extra days to finalize the deal. Various outlets report that the deal is worth a base value of $8.5 million with $5 million in guarantees that are due in the first year. The max value of the contract has been reported to be between $12 million and $12.5 million.

Umenyiora joins the Falcons after spending the past decade with the New York Giants. Originally drafted as a second round pick in 2003, Umenyiora played nine seasons with the Giants and collected 75 sacks in that span. He was a bookend opposite potential Hall of Famer Michael Strahan in New York (2005-07) before Strahan’s retirement ceded the job to Justin Tuck (2008-11). This past year, Umenyiora was relegated primarily to a situational rusher, splitting reps with Jason Pierre-Paul opposite Tuck. He is coming off a 6-sack eason in 2012, and has seen his production decline steadily since 2010 when he had 11.5 sacks. The two-time Pro Bowler is expected to replace veteran John Abraham in the Falcons lineup opposite Kroy Biermann. Umenyiora was born in London of Nigerian descent and resides in the Atlanta area during the off-season.

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Takeaways from Last Week – March 25

March 25th, 2013 Comments off
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Osi Umenyiora

Reports on Saturday indicated that the Falcons signing Osi Umenyiora was very imminent. Not sure if by the time this posts Monday morning if that deal will be official, but given the sources (Pro Football Talk and Adam Schefter), I trust them.

I don’t have a problem with that move. The problem with the move is that it is at best a lateral move for a team that struggled with their pass rush throughout 2012. It’s a toss-up between the lack of pass rush and the run defense as to what was the Achilles heel of the Falcons defense last year. At least for the run defense, there were some strong performances down the stretch. Not sure, if I can say the same for the pass rush.

I don’t think Osi is better than John Abraham, but the dropoff is not huge. If you asked me who I would rather have for one season, my answer is definitely Abraham. If you’re asking me who I would rather have for three seasons, then I’d probably choose Osi just because he is a few years younger. But I definitely don’t think Osi is going to be as good or better than Abraham is at age 34.

This is why I think adding pass rush help will remain a priority for the Falcons going into the draft. I think there is a strong possibility that the Falcons will use their top pick to help there.

Once Osi signs, the focus will shift firmly to cornerback as the Falcons top need. While I won’t say that the team won’t draft a corner with their top pick, there is still a lot of time left before the draft (31 days to be exact). There are just too many good veteran corners available, that I’d be surprised if the Falcons didn’t try and pursue one in that time span. It seems inevitable that Brent Grimes won’t be returning to the Falcons at this point, despite my overwhelming desires. So if not Grimes, then the Falcons still have options. Antoine Winfield is probably the best, but he’s 36 and at that age is really only a one-year stopgap. But Winfield would be a good player to pair with Asante Samuel for a season. Winfield still played at a high level last year, and is one of the league’s most consistent run-defending corners in the league. You could possibly make the argument that Winfield is one of the best run-support corners in the last twenty years. Terence Newman brings many of the physical traits to the table that Robinson did that had Falcons officials gushing over him three years ago. He was decent last year in Cincinnati, but it’s hard not to forget his struggles in Dallas the previous two years. Quentin Jammer is another corner with a reputation for physicality, but I’m not sure he can really run anymore, which is the same complaint about Nnamdi Asomugha. Rashean Mathis is a guy that Mike Smith is very familiar with, but he’s struggled with injuries the past two years, so may not be a reliable starter. There are other players such as DeAngelo Hall, Mike Jenkins, Kelvin Hayden, Marcus Trufant, Stanford Routt, Cedric Griffin, and Tracy Porter that will also potentially be in the mix. And I can’t forget about Charles Woodson either.

That’s just too many serviceable to good starters out there for the Falcons to stand pat at cornerback. Right now, there cornerback position consists of Samuel and Robert McClain, and that’s about it. Dominique Franks is on the roster bubble. He didn’t contribute anything as a returner last year, and has not contributed anything on special teams coverage, making his hold on a reserve spot tenuous at best. Backup defensive backs have to contribute on special teams, and Franks does not. So unless the Falcons really like Terrence Johnson and/or Peyton Thompson, you can be fairly confident that at least two significant additions will be made at the position. Probably one on the first two days of the draft, and likely one in free agency.

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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.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons “pushing” for Umenyiora

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Osi Umenyiora

Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that the Falcons are expected to try and wrap up a contract with free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora, formerly of the New York Giants, this weekend. Umenyiora visited with the team this past Wednesday. The free agent market for pass rushers has heated up this week, with several of the remaining top veterans such as Elvis Dumervil, John Abraham, and Dwight Freeney making a number of visits.

Umenyiora, 31, first joined the Giants as a second round pick out of Troy State in 2003. In nine seasons (he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury), Umenyiora tallied a total of 75 sacks for the Giants and earned Pro Bowl bids twice in 2005 and 2007. In 2005, his 14.5 sacks were a career high as well as the leader among NFC pass rushers. His production has slipped somewhat in recent years, with his last double-digit sack season coming in 2010 where he totaled 11.5 sacks. In 2011, his production fell to 9 sacks and to 6 this past season. Part of that has been due to less reps from the improvement shown from Jason Pierre-Paul. Umenyiora has largely been relegated to situational pass rusher playing predominantly right defensive end in the Giants nickel subpackage.

He is of Nigerian descent and was born in London, England. Umenyiora owns an off-season home in Atlanta.

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Chris Owens heads to Cleveland

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Chris Owens

The Cleveland Browns announced the signing of cornerback Chris Owens today. Owens, a former Falcon, was an unrestricted free agent. Fellow free agent Brent Grimes visited the Browns this past weekend. Owens signed a one-year deal with the Browns, with undisclosed terms.

Owens was drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2009 draft out of San Jose State. He played late in his rookie season as a replacement for an injured Chris Houston, and performed well in six starts with 26 tackles and 2 interceptions. The following season, he lost a camp competition to Grimes for the starting position and was moved into the slot as the nickel back. He struggled that year and was eventually benched in favor of Brian Williams. He then replaced an injured Williams in the Falcons playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and struggled in the loss. In 2011, he showed up late in the season as an injury fill-in for Grimes on the outside, where he was more respectable. This past year, he once again got reps as an injury fill-in with starters Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel nursing some injuries. Owens also proved to be a valuable special teams player over his time in Atlanta, tallying 26 stops on special teams.

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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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