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Who Will Falcons Target on Second Day of 2014 NFL Draft?

May 9th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ interest in Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford signals their goals on Day 2

The second day of the 2014 NFL Draft is upon us where teams will be selecting their second and third-round picks. After the Atlanta Falcons used their top pick on Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, it now begs the question of what is next?

The Falcons top need is at pass-rusher where the team was at or near the bottom of the league in both sacks and third-down defense in 2013. The team has been at the bottom of the league in both those categories for several years, so frankly, their need at pass-rusher has been many years in the making.

The first-round of the draft saw a couple of edge-rushers go late with Auburn’s Dee Ford being selected by the Kansas City Chiefs at 23rd overall and the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Louisville’s Marcus Smith with the 26th overall pick. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the Falcons attempted to move back into the first round in order to select Ford, presumably trying to swap picks with the Philadelphia Eagles, who originally held the 22nd overall selection. They traded that pick to the Cleveland Browns, who selected quarterback Johnny Manziel, Matthews former teammate at Texas A&M.

In terms of compensation, the Eagles were able to move down four spots and also picked up a third-round pick (83rd overall) in return. There were also reports that the Minnesota Vikings were looking to move into that spot, meaning that the Falcons needed to blow away the Eagles with an offer to get Ford. While the Falcons could have given the Eagles a higher third-round pick (68th overall), their second-round selection (37th overall) pales in comparison to the 26th pick that the Browns offered.

The Falcons interest in Ford coupled with their need at the position strongly suggests that their priority with the 37th overall pick to come later this evening, the team will target an edge-rusher.

There should be plenty to choose from. Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech), Scott Crichton (Oregon State), Kony Ealy (Missouri), Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) and Kyle Van Noy (Brigham Young) were all potential second-round targets that worked out for the team this offseason. In fact, I discussed those exact players along with Ford in April as potential second-round targets. At the time, it was concluded that Ford and Attaochu would likely top the team’s list of potential candidates.

There are possibilities that the Falcons could pass on an edge-rusher, particularly if Ford was the sole apple of their eye. Perhaps they deem the rest to be better value in the third round. It’s unlikely, but certainly a possibility.

If that is the case, then what other potential positions could the team opt to address in the second round? Safety and tight end are two potential needs that stand out.

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Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 5/4

May 4th, 2014 Comments off

Pro days have long been over, however that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any Atlanta Falcons-related draft news from the past week.

The National Football Post revealed that the Falcons have shown interest in a number of players including Florida State fullback Chad Abram, Buffalo cornerback Najja Johnson, Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd and Louisville safety Hakeem Smith.

All four players are projected to be late-round picks and possibly undrafted free agent candidates.

Boyd is interesting given some of his off-field concerns that led to him being kicked off Vanderbilt’s team last summer. The Falcons’ interest in him could be due to them trying to gain more insight into those events, but also because the team has already done the background work that wouldn’t preclude them selecting him if he’s already passed their strict character filter.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/27

April 27th, 2014 Comments off

It was a busy week for the Falcons as they worked out a number of top prospects and had them visit team facilities.

We reported earlier in the week about which players were expected to visit, but that was far from a comprehensive list. Here are the known visitors and they day in which they found themselves at team facilities this past week:

Monday:

  • Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Tuesday:

  • Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
  • Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
  • Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
  • Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
  • Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Wednesday:

  • Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
  • Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
  • Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
  • Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
  • Terrance West, RB, Towson

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (on campus in Columbia, SC)
  • Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina (on campus in Columbia, SC)

Saturday:

  • Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU (Source: ESPN)

Unknown Date:

  • Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
  • Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

We also learned of the Falcons’ interest in several other prospects this past week:

NFL.com’s Gil Brandt reports that the Falcons have met with Mississippi wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that the Falcons have met with Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman. Wilson also reports the team has conducted private workouts with Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith and Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens previously. Whether or not any of those players were in town this past week is unknown.

 

 

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons To Test Clowney, Work Out Ellington

April 25th, 2014 Comments off
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney

Multiple reports emerged yesterday afternoon that indicated the Atlanta Falcons were the team “most likely” to trade up with the Houston Texans for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Coupled with the news that the Falcons would be traveling to South Carolina today to conduct a workout with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney following his visit to team facilities on Wednesday made for easy dot-connecting that the Falcons were on the verge of pulling off another blockbuster draft-day trade.

Clowney’s agent, Bus Cook, made headlines earlier this month by declaring that the prospect would no longer be working out for prospective NFL teams due to an injury suffered by Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas during such a workout. Cook indicated that Clowney may do a five-minute private workout for one team that wouldn’t risk injury. That created even more dot-connecting that the Falcons were the one team and today’s visit was the one workout that Clowney was planning.

However, other details given the initial buzz fell through the cracks. Per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the Falcons would also be conducting a private workout of South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Later reports also emerged that confirmed that Cook’s earlier statements were in reference to biomechanical and aptitude tests that the Falcons were planning to conduct. Those tests would only last five minutes, which is unlikely to be worth the three-plus hour drive that it would take Falcons brass to get from Atlanta to Columbia, SC for the visit.

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Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,

More Prospects Visit Falcons

April 23rd, 2014 1 comment

It’s a pretty busy week for the Atlanta Falcons as their offseason program begins amid the team hosting several of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft this week. Earlier this week we reported on several scheduled visits for the team over the course of this week. But apparently those reports were far from comprehensive.

Yesterday, Central Florida running back Storm Johnson was in town visiting alongside three other prospects. It was already known that UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr would be visiting the team on Tuesday, but Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Louisville safety Calvin Pryor were two more that were in the Falcons facilities along with Johnson.

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Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons Line Up Draft Visits This Week

April 21st, 2014 Comments off

As reported yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons are set to have a busy week where they will have a large number of 2014 draft prospects in and out of team facilities to conduct visits.

Previous reports indicated that outside linebackers Anthony Barr (UCLA) and Khalil Mack (Buffalo), defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) and Dee Ford (Auburn), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (LSU), offensive tackles Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Greg Robinson (Auburn) and running back Terrance West (Towson) are scheduled to visit the team.

One more name can be added to that list, as Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert tweeted this morning that he will making a visit to Atlanta later in the week.

https://twitter.com/JGil_4/statuses/458086613050851328

Some of the dates are known for when several of the prospects will visit the team. Ford will be the first to arrive today and stay through tomorrow. He will be joined by his Auburn teammate Robinson and Barr on Tuesday. On Wednesday Clowney, Mack and West will work out for the team. Exact dates for Matthews and Landry’s visits are not known yet. It’s very likely that Gilbert’s visit won’t be until the end of the week.

There is other news involving these prospects, as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that a notable contingent of the Falcons’ top brass were in the Baltimore area on Sunday to conduct a private workout of West at Towson University. Per Wilson, head coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant GM Scott Pioli, and player personnel director Lionel Vital were all on hand to see West.

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/20

April 20th, 2014 Comments off

This past week was a big one for the Falcons as they conducted their local pro day where draft prospects from Georgia high schools and colleges got a chance to showcase their stuff in front of the team on Tuesday, April 15.

We originally reported a number of players that were expected to show up, but in the days since there have been more reports about the prospects that were available. Georgia State sent three prospects, the previously reported defensive linemen along with offensive lineman Ulrick John. Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson was another player that himself tweeted he was there. Shane DePasquale of NFL Draft Diamonds reports that Southern Illinois linebacker Bryan Presume was among the prospects.

A pair of Valdosta State wide receivers in Regginald Lewis and Seantavius Jones were reportedly there to work out.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that other players were there including:

  • Running Back Ryan Boykin, Ohio
  • Outside linebacker Clifton Crews, South Alabama
  • Wide receiver Ryan Culbreath, Furman
  • Safety Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
  • Safety Kimario McFadden, South Carolina State
  • Tight End Evan Wilson, Illinois
  • Safety Greg Worthy, Furman

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Several Locals Working out for Falcons Today

April 15th, 2014 Comments off

As first reported eleven days ago, the Atlanta Falcons will be conducting their local pro day today at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

The local pro day is there for players with connections to nearby high schools and colleges to get a look from a nearby NFL team. It represents an opportunity for a lot of smaller school guys to get on the team’s radar. The Falcons have had players like tight end Michael Palmer and linebacker Akeem Dent work out for them in past local pro days.

This year, a number of local prospects are said to be participating. Not only is Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Kaycee Ike participating, but per Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, East Carolina tight end Justin Jones is one of them. Jones hails from Conyers, GA and is a massive tight end prospect, listed at 6’8″, 277 pounds and reportedly leapt 37.5 inches on his vertical jump when he worked out at Georgia State’s pro day last month. He was declared ineligible this past year, coming off career-highs of 25 catches and 346 yards as a junior. He also had three touchdowns in 2012.

Wilson was also the first to report that Portland State running back D.J. Adams and Tennessee-Chattanooga cornerback Kadeem Wise were also participating.

Adams is a native of Norcross and began his collegiate career at Maryland, where he scored 11 touchdowns on 67 carries as a freshman. His workload decreased the following year and he transferred to Portland State seeking more playing time. He received it, leading the team in rushing both years. He combined for 420 carries for 2,567 yards with 31 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes over his two years with the Vikings. Adams measured 5’9″, 213 pounds at his pro day, where he clocked a 4.62-second 40-yard dash time.

Wise is a native of Lawrenceville, and was a four-year starter and four-time All-Conference honoree at UTC. In 45 career starts, he totaled 204 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 11 interceptions and 21 pass breakups. He clocked a 4.47-second 40 time and did 15 bench reps of 225 pounds at his pro day earlier this month.

Georgia State defensive tackle Terrence Woodard will also be participating alongside defensive end Theo Agnew as previously reported. Woodard was a member of GSU’s inaugural team when the school established a football program in 2010. Woodard started the past two years, earning team MVP honors as a junior. As a senior, he had 50 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble playing nose guard.

UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tennessee running back Rajion Neal, Georgia Tech safety Jemea Thomas, Vanderbilt wide receiver Jonathan Krause and Middle Tennessee cornerback Kenneth Gilstrap are also participating today.

Wilson also reports that Utah State cornerback Nevin Lawson is in Atlanta to conduct a two-day visit with the team. While he’s not a local since he hails from southern Florida, Lawson could figure into the Falcons draft mix. He is projected as a mid-round pick by CBS Sports.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/12

April 12th, 2014 Comments off

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews

This past week was a busy one for the Atlanta Falcons as they attended some of the last few pro days of the year as well as conducted private workouts with several 2014 NFL Draft prospects.

Let’s get to the pro days first…

All 32 NFL teams attended LSU’s pro day this past Wednesday. Most of the eyes were drawn to Baton Rouge to see quarterback Zach Mettenberger throw. Mettenberger tore his ACL at the end of this past season and managed to throw. According to reports, he looked rusty considering he’s only five months removed from a major knee surgery.

Other notable workouts were wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who tried to improve on the disappointing 4.77-second 40-yard dash he ran at the Combine. Landry did manage to improve, clocking a 40 time in the 4.58 to 4.63-second range. Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson slimmed down from his Combine weight of 315 pounds to 302. He managed to run a 40 in the 5.08 to 5.13-second range, but was otherwise unimpressive in other measurement drills. But per NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, he did look good in positional drills.

The Falcons were also reportedly at Bloomsburg’s pro day on Thursday. The biggest draw was defensive end Larry Webster, Jr., who’s father played 11 seasons in the NFL, including years in Baltimore when Falcons head coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan were assistants there.

Webster sat on his Combine numbers, but did work out a defensive end, defensive tackle, and tight end positional drills. Per Webster, he would prefer to stay as a defensive end at the next level. At the Combine, the 6’6″, 252-pound Webster ran a 4.52-second 40 and had a 36.5-inch vertical, which were on par with South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

The Falcons were at Morgan State’s pro day on Monday, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. There they got the chance to see cornerback Joe Rankin, who had a 40 time in the 4.4 to 4.5-second range and did 15 bench reps of 225 pounds.
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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/6

April 6th, 2014 Comments off

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.

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