Falcons Sign Lowery and Wilson to Bolster Secondary

April 8th, 2014 No comments

The Atlanta Falcons announced the signings of safety Dwight Lowery and cornerback Josh Wilson earlier today. Lowery spent the past three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Wilson played with the Washington Redskins during that same span. Terms of their deals have yet to be disclosed, although Wilson’s deal is reportedly for one year.

Lowery missed most of the 2013 season with a concussion, suffered in the third game of the season on a blindside hit from Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. In 2012, he started nine games, missing five during midseason with an ankle injury and missing the final two with a foot injury. Lowery was first traded to the Jaguars at the start of the 2011 season after spending three years with the New York Jets, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Lowery began his career as a cornerback, but was moved to free safety as an injury replacement for Eric Smith near the end of the 2010 season before making the permanent transition upon his arrival in Jacksonville. He spent his first two years in the NFL primarily playing as the Jet’s nickel cornerback. Through his entire career, Lowery has started 41 games both at cornerback and safety and tallied 178 tackles, three sacks, 10 interceptions, five forced fumbles and six recoveries.

Wilson signed a deal with the Redskins following the lockout in 2011 and started the past 48 games for them opposite DeAngelo Hall. He’s coming off a season where he finished with career-highs in tackles (89), sacks (two) and fumble recoveries (three). Prior to joining the Redskins, Wilson spent one season with the Baltimore Ravens after getting traded by the Seahawks. In both Baltimore and Seattle, Wilson played a lot as a nickel cornerback but still managed to start a combined 33 games between 2008-10.

Lowery is likely to move into the team’s vacant free safety position, while Wilson adds depth at cornerback and can compete for the nickel job or potentially push Robert Alford for a starting job. Wilson has experience playing the slot both in Washington and Seattle.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 63 “That Sort of Weed-Eating Upside”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

I am joined by Tom Melton to go in-depth on the Atlanta Falcons’ options in the 2014 NFL Draft. Tom talks up his affinity for players like safety Dion Bailey and defensive tackles Dominique Easley and Aaron Donald. We also talk in-depth about whether trading up for Jadeveon Clowney is a good move and whether or not the Falcons can motivate him to play well. We discuss whether the crop of prospects on the offensive line and pass rusher is really that deep and whether the Falcons can afford to pass on one group in the early rounds. During that conversation we discuss Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Jake Matthews, and Greg Robinson’s fits with the team. Taylor Lewan, Jeremiah Attaochu and Demarcus Lawrence are other prospects discussed during the show. We close with talking about the Falcons backup running backs including Jason Snelling’s retirement, Antone Smith’s new role with the team, and whether Jacquizz Rodgers fits. Warning: This episode features some borderline PG-13/explicit content.

Episode 63: That Sort of Weed-Eating Upside [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes

Tom Melton can be found on twitter: @TMeltonScouting, and also writes for Draft Falcons. You can find the draft guide he contributed to at: The Draft Narrative.com.

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, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Saints Match Bush Offer Sheet

April 8th, 2014 No comments

New Orleans Saints safety Rafael Bush himself tweeted yesterday that he would be remaining with the team, which was later confirmed by his agent according to various outlets. It indicates that the Saints matched the Atlanta Falcons offer sheet to the restricted free agent, meaning he will not be joining the Falcons as previous reports indicated was his desire.

The Falcons had offered a two-year, $4.5 million deal. The Saints had less than $2 million in cap space according to NFLPA documents, but opted to match the deal.

It leaves the Falcons without a clear-cut answer at the free safety position in the wake of the release of Thomas DeCoud earlier this offseason. Zeke Motta is the top candidate currently on the roster at the position, which puts the Falcons in the position where they could sign a veteran in free agency or wait until the draft to address the position.

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Takeaways from Last Week – April 7, 2014

April 7th, 2014 1 comment
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Babineaux

Last year, I wrote about my efforts to grade past drafts. And given that it’s almost been a year to the day since I posted that initial breakdown, it’s time to give you an update.

The conventional wisdom says you have to wait at least three years to judge a draft. I tend to think that five years gives you a much more accurate picture. Take for instance a player like Jonathan Babineaux, who did not do much in his first three seasons as an Atlanta Falcon.

Babineaux was predominantly a rotation player. But in 2008, his fourth season, when the Falcons cut Grady Jackson midway through the year, Babineaux filled in ably and started to show flashes of why he was a second-round pick in 2005. But it was really in 2009 that Babs really came into his own and become one of the premier defensive tackles in the league. And in the years since, Babineaux hasn’t be quite as good a player as he was in 2009 but he’s been much better than the mediocre player he seemed to look through his first three and a half years.

In the end, the pick of Babineaux is one of the better ones the Falcons have made over the past decade. That would not have seemed the case had we made the cut-off three years.

The way in which I grade drafts is a simple grading system that assigns every player picked an A, B, C, D or F grade based off their entire five-year body of work. I’ve given examples with current Falcon players.

A – An elite or near-elite player. Mike Lombardi would call these players “blue chips.” They are players that are among the very best at their respective positions. Example: Matt Ryan.

B – Lombardi would call these “red chip” players. They are universally considered to be among the better players at their position and definite impact players. Typically these are guys are perennial Pro Bowlers. Example: Roddy White.

C – Solid starters or a premier role player (e.g. Darren Sproles). They are fairly entrenched as starters in the league and should be able to start on a significant percentage of NFL teams besides their own. Examples: Sam Baker.

D – Backups or low-level starters. These are typically role players, but may also be starters that are considered underwhelming or expendable. Examples: Harry Douglas.

F – They are out of the league.

Last year, I posted the numbers for 2007 and 2008 draft classes, as well as a preliminary look at the 2009 draft class.

The eery thing was that the 2007 and 2008 draft classes were remarkably similar in terms of the amount of talent that entered the league. And while initially the 2009 class looked different, that doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case now that we’ve finished the fifth year of that class. Here’s how the three draft classes break down:

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: ,

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/6

April 6th, 2014 No comments

The Atlanta Falcons had a pretty busy week, with numerous reports of their interest and workout schedule coming out. You can check out those reports here:

Falcons worked out Vanderbilt tackle Johnson
Lewan Gets Chance to Audition for Falcons
Falcons set to meet with UConn linebacker Smallwood
Towson’s Terrance West Set to Visit Falcons
Falcons Work out Clowney at Pro Day, Schedule Visit
Falcons Work Out Mack, Ealy and Amaro
UAB tackle Kaycee Ike has Workout Scheduled with Falcons

But that’s not all that happened this week for the Falcons in pro day and draft-related news:

Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider reports that the Falcons worked out a pair of UCLA prospects in linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and wide receiver Shaq Evans.

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Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reports that the Falcons have scheduled meeting with Central Florida running back Storm Johnson.

Read more…

FalcFans Weekly – April 6, 2014

April 6th, 2014 No comments
F. Medina-US PRESSWIRE

William Moore

Potential Atlanta Falcons newcomer and safety Rafael Bush appears very keen on joining the team. The Falcons signed Bush to an offer sheet this week as a restricted free agent, giving his former team, the New Orleans Saints until April 8 to match or let him become a Falcon. Bush is still friends with Falcons safety William Moore, from their days with the team back in 2010-11, and is the strongest candidate should he join the Falcons to replace Thomas DeCoud at free safety.

Blogging Dirty’s Jake Bennett has a nice write-up about how Bush’s addition can benefit the Falcons.

And speaking of Moore, he apparently now has a chip on his shoulder in regards to the contract the Saints gave Jairus Byrd this offseason.

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Vaughn McClure of ESPN has an excellent piece on how defensive tackle Paul Soliai’s contract came to be in Atlanta with a  candid discussion with his agent David Canter.

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McClure also shares insights into center Peter Konz, who has been working hard to improve this offseason. Konz has added some muscle and took to heart the final words of tight end Tony Gonzalez, when he addressed the team before the regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers.

Read more…

UAB tackle Kaycee Ike has Workout Scheduled with Falcons

April 4th, 2014 No comments

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Kaycee Ike has a scheduled workout with the Atlanta Falcons on April 15. It’s possible that date is designated for the team’s annual local pro day, given that Georgia State defensive end Theo Agnew tweeted last week that he was scheduled to work out for the team around the same time.

The local pro day is a day set up for prospects that went to either college or high school in the Atlanta area, as well as throughout the state of Georgia. Ike is a native of Lawrenceville, a suburb of Atlanta.

Ike was a two-year starter for UAB, starting 11 games as a senior primarily at left tackle, and earning 12 starts at right tackle during his junior year. At his pro day earlier in March, he measured 6’4″ and weighed 297 pounds. He had a 5.02-second 40-yard dash with 22 bench reps of 225 pounds and a 26-inch vertical jump. He is not projected to be drafted, but could be a priority undrafted free-agent signing.

Agnew is a former transfer from Massachusetts. In two seasons at UMass, he started a combined nine games and had 66 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, two pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He started primarily at defensive end at Georgia State when he transferred as a junior, but also saw snaps at defensive tackle. In two seasons at GSU, Agnew combined for 124 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He too is projected as an undrafted free-agent candidate.

Previous participants in the Falcons local pro day have included tight end Michael Palmer, who made the team’s roster as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Linebacker Akeem Dent worked out at the local pro day the following year, and it helped him get drafted by the team in the third round.

Falcons Extend Offer Sheet to Rafael Bush

April 3rd, 2014 No comments
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Bush

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that the Atlanta Falcons have extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent safety Rafael Bush, currently with the New Orleans Saints. Terms of the deal are currently undisclosed. But the Saints now have until April 8 to match the offer sheet, else Bush will become a Falcon. And because the Saints gave him the lowest restricted tender of roughly $1.4 million, the Falcons will owe their divisional rival no compensation in the form of a draft pick since Bush was originally undrafted.

Bush is not new to the Falcons as they were his first NFL team when he signed as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State in 2010. He spent nearly his entire rookie season on the team’s practice squad before being elevated to the active roster for the season finale. He was once again signed to the practice squad in 2011 after he was cut when the team opted to add veteran James Sanders to fill a reserve role at safety. In October 2011, Bush was signed off the Falcons practice squad by the Denver Broncos, where he played in six games as a special teams player. After being cut the following summer, Bush was scooped up by the Saints and has filled a depth role the past two seasons. This past year, he earned six starts as an injury replacement. He finished the year with 38 tackles and five pass deflections.

Bush will turn 27 in May and spent the bulk of his time in New Orleans as their fourth safety. Prior to his departure from Atlanta, he filled in as a reserve at strong safety and also played some nickel cornerback, making him a versatile reserve option should he join the Falcons. He’ll likely be in the mix for the vacant free safety position if the Falcons don’t fill the position with a draft pick in next month’s draft.

The Saints will be hard-pressed to match the Falcons offer given the fact that they currently have just $2.2 million in 2014 cap space according to reports.

Categories: News Tags:

Falcons Work Out Mack, Ealy and Amaro

April 2nd, 2014 No comments

 Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy

The Atlanta Falcons had a busy Wednesday, as not only did they look at defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during his pro day in South Carolina, they also conducted several workouts at their own facilities in Flowery Branch, GA.

Two players that were reportedly brought in to work out were Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack and Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt.

ESPN’s Adam Caplan reports that the Falcons also conducted a workout for Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro on Wednesday.

Mack is considered one of the top prospects in this year’s draft class, and the Falcons previously had checked out him during his pro day. He could potentially be the team’s top selection in the draft. He finished his career tied as the NCAA’s career leader in tackles for loss with 75. He also had a school-record 28.5 sacks.

Ealy is widely considered a first-round prospect as well, but is unlikely to be under consideration for the Falcons’ sixth overall pick. Instead, he may be in the mix in the second round, where the Falcons hold the 37th overall selection. Ealy finished this past season with eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

Amaro is considered one of the premier tight ends in this year’s class, coming off a junior year that saw him catch 106 passes for 1,352 yards (12.8 avg) and seven touchdowns. His receptions led the Big 12 Conference and ranked seventh in the nation in 2013. His yardage mark became a single-season record for tight end. Most of Amaro’s production came this past year, as he missed six games as a sophomore due to a ruptured spleen.

He is considered to have first-round potential, although the Falcons are likely hoping he is available at the top of the second round where they pick.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons Work out Clowney at Pro Day, Schedule Visit

April 2nd, 2014 No comments

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Atlanta Falcons have lined up a workout with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Falcons sent scouts along with defensive line coach Bryan Cox and outside linebackers coach Mark Collins to Columbia, SC today to witness Clowney’s workout. Collins helped put Clowney through his paces during linebacker coverage drills as the pro day was broadcast on NFL Network this morning.

Clowney is widely considered the top prospect in the 2014 draft class, and it has long been rumored that the Falcons are one of many teams pthat could facilitate a trade up to get him since he’s not expected to be available when the Falcons go on the clock with the sixth overall selection in the first round.

Clowney publicly expressed interest to play for the Falcons back in February prior to the Scouting Combine, where he put on a show similar to his impressive performance at today’s pro day. At the Combine, Clowney ran a 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, and jumped 37.5 inches for his vertical and 10 feet, 4 inches on his broad jump.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,