Posts Tagged ‘draft’

Falcon Sign Rookies Matthews and Hageman to Contracts

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they agreed to terms with the top two selections in the 2014 NFL Draft: offensive tackle Jake Matthews and defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman. Earlier this month, Matthews and Hageman were selected in the first and second rounds of the draft, respectively. Both agreed to undisclosed four-year deals, although because Matthews is a first-round selection, the Falcons have an option for a fifth year on the deal.

Matthews was the sixth overall selection out of Texas A&M and is expected to immediately start at right tackle. Hageman was the 37th selection out of Minnesota and is expected to push for time in the team’s defensive line rotation. He’s expected to play defensive end, but will also add depth at tackle.

Today’s signings leave third-round safety Dezmen Southward and fourth-round running back Devonta Freeman as the only unsigned members of the team’s nine-player draft class. Five of the team’s other selections signed over the weekend.

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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Devonta Freeman

May 21st, 2014 Comments off
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 fourth-round selection, former Florida State running back Devonta Freeman.


Height: 5’8″
Weight: 206
College: Florida State
40 Time: 4.58 (Combine)
Three-Cone: 7.11 (Combine)

He was born on March 15, 1992 in Miami, Florida where he attended Miami Central High. Comes from a rough background, surrounded by crime and violence as a youth and was able to use drive to excel at football to help rise above it. Coached in Pop Warner football by Luther Campbell a.k.a. “Uncle Luke,” lead rapper in group 2 Live Crew.

As a true freshman at Florida State, he started the final seven games of the season and led the team in rushing with 579 yards on 120 carries (4.8 avg) and eight touchdowns. He had twice as many carries as the next tailback that season. Also caught 15 passes for 111 yards (7.4 avg). Began sophomore year again as a reserve player but would eventually start the final four games. Would once again lead team in rushing with 660 yards on 111 carries (5.9 avg) and eight scores. Only had one more carry and 20 more yards as the next tailback on roster (James Wilder, Jr.). Also had 10 receptions for 86 yards (8.6 avg) that season. As a junior, took over lead tailback duties full-time and started all 14 games. His 1,016 rushing yards led the team and also became first Florida State tailback since Warrick Dunn in 1996 to rush for over 1,000 yards. His 173 carries as a junior was also more than the next two backs combined. Averaged 5.9 yards per carry and had 14 touchdowns, along with 22 receptions for 278 yards (12.6 avg) and another touchdown. Earned first team All-ACC honors as a junior.

Noted for his work ethic, which allowed him to receive the majority of reps during his career despite not being considered the most talented running back on the roster.


Out SR
Oct-26N.C. State129225263%75%0
YAC - Yards After First Contact; Out SR - Outside Runs Success Rate; In SR - Inside Runs Success Rate
Oct-26N.C. State11302900
YAC - Yards After Catch; UC - Uncatchable Passes

The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Speed (6.0) – Possesses good speed but is not going to run away from many NFL-level starters at linebacker and in the defensive backfield. Not a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, but when he can get space is able to cover ground quickly and generate big plays from time to time.

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Falcons Sign Five Draft Picks

May 19th, 2014 Comments off

On Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons announced the signings of five of their nine 2014 draft picks. The five that signed were all selected on the third and final day of the draft earlier this month, including cornerback Ricardo Allen and linebackers Prince Shembo, Yawin Smallwood, Marquis Spruill and Tyler Starr. All agreed to undisclosed four-year contracts.

Allen was a fifth-round selection of the team out of Purdue. Shembo was selected in the fourth round out of Notre Dame. Both Smallwood and Starr were selected at the end of the seventh round from Connecticut and South Dakota respectively, while the team traded into the fifth round to select Syracuse’s Spruill.

All five players are expected to compete for reserve roles with the team this summer. Their signings leave the Falcons first four selections unsigned: offensive tackle Jake Matthews, defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman, safety Dezmen Southward and running back Devonta Freeman.

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Atlanta Falcons Takeaways From Last Week – May 19, 2014

May 19th, 2014 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

I really like the Jake Matthews pick.

I’m optimistic that he’s going to be one of those foundation players for the Atlanta Falcons offense for years to come. The team’s offense will be known primarily by quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and Matthews.

The Falcons are going to need Matthews to hit the ground running as far as his transition to the NFL goes. There is a leadership void in regards to their offensive line thanks to the recent departures of center Todd McClure and offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, and Matthews will be counted upon to fill some of that void in the coming years.

And whether or not he can fill that void will depend on him playing well, and doing so relatively soon.

I have a great deal of optimism that Matthews will be a Falcon for a very long time, assuming he can stay healthy, similar to McClure, who played 14 years with the team.

Like Other Quality Tackles, Matthews Could Fly Under Radar

As I said in my scouting report of Matthews, I’m not convinced he’ll be one of the premier offensive tackles in the league but I do believe he’ll settle himself to become one of the better ones.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 67 “Coming to Terms With Prince Shembo”

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

I am joined by Jeanna Thomas of The Falcoholic to give a more positive spin on the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft class plus some of the early developments in the team’s rookie mini-camp. The conversation then dives deep into a discussion of Falcons fourth-round selection, linebacker Prince Shembo, and his alleged off-field incident during his time at Notre Dame. We do our best to figure out how they can reconcile our issues over the incident.

Episode 67 – Coming to Terms With Prince Shembo [Download]

Duration: 41 minutes

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas. You can read Jeanna’s article referred to in the episode by clicking here.

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:

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:

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Dezmen Southward

May 16th, 2014 Comments off
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Dezmen Southward

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons’ third-round pick, Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward.


Height: 6′
Weight: 211
College: Wisconsin
40 Time: 4.40 (Campus)
Three-Cone: 6.50 (Campus)

He was born on October 1, 1990 and attended St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Played only one year of high school football as a senior, but his team was named National Champs that year. Same defensive backfield produced fellow 2014 draft prospects, Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Roberson, both of whom were juniors on that team. He spent first three years playing basketball and track and field. His stepfather, Eli Rasheed, is a former defensive lineman at Indiana University and is currently a defensive line coach at Toledo University.

He redshirted during his freshman year at Wisconsin and played in 13 games as a reserve as a sophomore, recording eight tackles. Earned three starts as a sophomore at strong safety in 14 appearances, tallying 35 tackles, two pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. Earned starting spot at free safety as a junior, starting a total of 14 games. He had 69 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one interception, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. Started 13 games as a senior with 40 tackles, 3.5 for loss, one interception, 5 breakups, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Finished his career with a school-record 54 games played and also started 28 consecutive games, indicative of his durability. Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors both as a junior and senior.

Competed in spring of 2013 at Wisconsin in 100 meters and 4×100 relay due to injuries to other sprints.

Noted for intelligence, scoring a 31 on his Wonderlic where the average for a safety is 19. Was medically excluded from Combine due to wrist and spine injuries, although he was later cleared and fully participated at his pro day. Measured a 42-inch vertical at the pro day, indicative of his basketball background.


Miss Tkl
Pen. Type
Sep-14Arizona State010001personal foul
Sep-28Ohio State00.50030N/A
Jan-01South Carolina000100N/A

Sep-14Arizona State7473140110.4311
Sep-28Ohio State2110100.5000
Jan-01South Carolina449951024.7500

UC – indicates an uncatchable pass.

The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Speed (9.0) - Has excellent speed, timing well at Wisconsin’s pro day and also being clocked at 10.97 seconds in 100 meters during the spring of 2013. Plays to that speed and has the ability to run very well in a straight line. Shows good burst upfield to defend the run out on the edge and can run with receivers on vertical routes.
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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Ra’Shede Hageman

May 15th, 2014 1 comment
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Ra’Shede Hageman

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons’ 2014 second-round pick, Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman.


Note: Before proceeding, I think you should take the time and opportunity to read an excellent feature on Hageman done by SB Nation’s John Rosengren from last November. I based a lot of my assessments about Hageman’s character based off the information I read in Rosengren’s piece as well as other available sources online. I have not met Hageman, and therefore some of these assessments are unfair on my part without such face-to-face interation. But nonetheless, in efforts to providing the best available online content revolving around the Atlanta Falcons, I would be remiss if I did not consider it.

Height: 6’6″
Weight: 310
College: Minnesota
40 Time: 5.02
Bench Press: 32

His name is pronounced “Ruh-SHEED HAYG-men” although he was born Ra’Shede Knox on August 2, 1990. He was in foster care system until age 7 before he and his younger brother, Xavier, were adopted by Eric and Jill Hageman. He attended Washburn High in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As a redshirt freshman, he played in eight games as a backup, ending the season with five tackles. He was suspended for the final four games that year due to academic issues. He returned as a sophomore to appear in 13 games as a backup, with 13 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. The following spring he was arrested while trying to break up a bar fight and was charged with disorderly conduct, although the charges were eventually dropped. The ensuing fall, he earned starting position with 12 starts. He had 35 tackles, 7.5 for loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and a pair of pass breakups. As a senior, he was voted a captain and Team MVP and started all 13 games at defensive tackle. He finished the season with 38 tackles, 13 for loss, two sacks, one interception, eight pass breakups and two blocked kicks.

Possesses impressive wingspan with 34.25-inch arms and 10.25-inch hands.


Run Stop
Key Blkd
Pen Type
Nov-09Penn State00000100N/A
Dec-27Syracuse20120001personal foul

The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Strength (9.0) – He wins largely with strength and power alone, possessing an abundance of both. That allows him to be a mismatch for most collegiate guards and tackles when put on an island. Forced him to draw more double teams as a senior because of it. He has a thick frame, but has the potential and capacity to get bigger and stronger. Did 32 bench reps at the Combine.

Point of Attack (5.5) – Has the strength to hold the point of attack and anchor, keeping blockers off his linebackers. But does not know how to use his hands to disengage from blocks to get off them to make the play. Struggles to beat double teams because of his inability to shed blocks. Is more of a penetrative interior player that doesn’t have ideal quickness and burst to reliably penetrate. When he does anchor and make a play at the point, it’s usually when he’s clogging the middle with his body rather than actually defeating block and wrapping up a ballcarrier. Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 66 “Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams”

May 13th, 2014 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic contributor, Murf Baldwin, to discuss our thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft class. Murf gives a less than glowing assessment of the Falcons picks, including whether or not Ra’Shede Hageman and Dezmen Southward offered good value in the second and third rounds. We wonder whether or not the Falcons pass rush has been significantly improved and break down whether Devonta Freeman and their late-round picks add anything to the roster that wasn’t already there. Allen and I finish with a brief discussion of our hopes for the NBA playoffs, our usual around the league segment, as well as Allen’s explanation on why he could not make a triumphant return to Radio City Music Hall to witness the draft.

Episode 66 – Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Murf writes for The Falcoholic, Roll Bama Roll and can be found on twitter: @MurfBaldwin.

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:

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:

Falcons Officially Sign 20 Undrafted Free Agents

May 13th, 2014 Comments off
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen

On Sunday, I posted a list of 26 players that various reports indicated had signed undrafted free agent deals with the Atlanta Falcons. Monday, the team released their official list of 20 players that were signed after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Nineteen of the twenty names released today appeared on Sunday’s list, with Arkansas State wide receiver Julian Jones being the lone exception. Joining Jones are quarterback Jeff Mathews (Cornell), running back Jerome Smith (Syracuse), fullbacks Maurice Hagens (Miami) and Roosevelt Nix (Kent State), wide receivers Geraldo Boldewijn (Boise State), Freddie Martino (North Greenville), Bernard Reedy (Toledo) and Tramaine Thompson (Kent State), tight ends Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak (both from Wisconsin), center James Stone (Tennessee), defensive end Nosa Eguae (Auburn), nose tackle Donte Rumph (Kentucky), outside linebackers Walker May (Vanderbilt) and Jacques Smith (Tennessee), inside linebacker Brenden Daley (Hawaii), cornerback Devonta Glover-Wright (Utah State), safety Kimario McFadden (South Carolina State) and punter Matt Yoklic (Pittsburgh).

Mathews was a record-setting quarterback at Cornell that holds school and Ivy League records with 11,284 career yards passing and 72 touchdowns. Mathews was a four-year starter, leading Cornell to 12 wins over the course of his career. His best season came as a sophomore, where he posted career-highs with 67.9 percent completions, 3,412 passing yards and 25 touchdowns on his way to earn Ivy League Player of the Year honors.

Jerome Smith starred his final two years at Syracuse, leading the team in rushing in both seasons. He combined for 2,085 yards and 15 touchdowns in those two seasons.

Read more…

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Takeaways from 2014 NFL Draft – May 12, 2014

May 12th, 2014 1 comment
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons 2014 Top Selection: Jake Matthews

Normally I write my weekly takeaways column on Sunday afternoon or evening with the intention of it being posted first thing Monday morning around 8:00 a.m. This week, that was no the case.

That’s partly to blame for the fact that it was Mother Day’s weekend, and instead of doing all the things I normally would have done on a Sunday afternoon/evening to get this weekly column posted, I decided to spend time with my mother, who had driven four hors from Virginia to North Carolina to witness my sister-in-law’s graduation from grad school. In the interest of being a good son, my mother took precedent over this column.

Secondly, I had not watched all of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft picks play yet. And the column after the draft is the one devoted to my thoughts on whether I believe the Falcons’ draft was a good one or not.

Because unlike most people, I try to be informed before giving my opinions. If you want to know my take on any of the Falcons undrafted free agents, I don’t have one because I haven’t seen any of them play. Until I do, which will be in the first preseason game, my opinion on them will remain largely non-existent.

I was born in 1983, so I spent a significant portion existing in a world without the internet. That was a world where people couldn’t post their opinions, thoughts or insights with the click of a button on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or in Yahoo! News comments.

Back in those times, the only people that were given a platform to express opinions were people that had earned that right to be called experts in their give fields. There was a filter, and it was one that you had to work hard to break through.

The idea that Courtney Love could be involved in finding a missing plane in that time was laughable at best. Instead of social media, people expressed their opinions to companions and family members in their respective living rooms, kitchen dinner tables or bars.

But that age doesn’t exist anymore, and now people are free to give their opinions with no filter. Today, everything is thrown at the wall, and it’s only a matter of what sticks.

Why am I telling you this? Because one of the things I find fascinating is how everybody, including those least informed, will give their opinions on the draft. Besides watching a YouTube highlight clip and reading a bunch of online scouting reports, most people aren’t informed about most of these players with their own eyes.

It often leads to people have overly optimistic expectations about a particular draft prospect, or overly pessimistic ones. There is no longer a middle ground. And people should know that most things fall into that middle area.

I’m saying all this because I believe it will take time to see how these draft prospects develop. Patience is really the key, and while it won’t stop me from having an opinion today, I’m at least aware of the fact that what my opinion today is relatively meaningless in the big picture. That big picture will be determined by where the Falcons 2014 draft picks are three to five years from now.

What will this column will entail from this point is my best guess on where those players will be at that point. While that guess is an educated one based off informed analysis from watching these guys play a handful of collegiate games, it is still a guess nonetheless.

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