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The Big Board: First Round

April 27th, 2011
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Patrick Peterson: No. 1 on the board

It’s time to look at the top prospects who should be at or near the top of the Falcons draft board. This is looking at guys that the Falcons should potentially be targeting at the top of the draft. Twenty eight players here are listed and it’s a definite that one of them will be available when the Falcons pick at No. 27. But in truth, you’re hoping that someone in your Top 15-20 will be there for you to draft rather than “settling” for someone that is near the end of your list.

These are based off my own rankings and grading of players. Each player is linked to their scouting report page in the forums.

ELITE PROSPECTS

These are the cream of the crop players because they are the best in the draft as far as your needs are concerned. If you had the ammunition to trade up in the draft, these would be the guys you would target. You normally are of the mind to never give up next year’s No. 1 pick, but one of these players is potentially worth it. These are the sort of players that form the foundation of your team for over a decade.

1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
3. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
4. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
5. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

TOP PROSPECTS

These players aren’t quite elite because they have some risk to them. But they have a high upside to be very good players on your team and should definitely fill needs. If one of these players drops in the draft, you’d be willing to move up some to get them. But you certainly wouldn’t mortgage the future to do so.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
7. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
8. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
9. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

UPPER LEVEL PROSPECTS

Quality prospects that can be immediate impact players and should become one of your signature players in the years to come. When people are rattling off the Top 5 players on the Falcons a few years from now, you’re confident they will list one of these players.

10. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
11. Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
12. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
13. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

QUALITY PROSPECTS

Given where the Falcons are picking at in the first round, this is likely to be the caliber of player that will likely be available. All of these are good players that you think are worth a late first round pick and you would be happy with. Most fill areas of needs, others are just really good players at areas of weakness. They may not be immediate impact players, but you expect them to produce pretty early (by their second seasons) and have good, long productive NFL careers as starters.

14. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
15. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
16. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
17. Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
18. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
19. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
20. Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
21. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
22. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
23. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
24. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
25. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

THE REST

These are good players that don’t quite fit exactly what you do or they are good players at positions where you are fairly solid at. But they are of a quality where you would think they are worth a look if available and nobody else is left on the board.

26. Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois
27. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
28. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

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