The Miami Herald reported on Saturday about the possibility of the Falcons dealing DeAngelo Hall to the Dolphins as part of a bid to get the Dolphins less than coveted No. 1 overall draft pick. The immediate presumption I’m more many would make is that the Falcons would be trading up to get Boston College QB Matt Ryan. But I’m hear to suggest that if such a move were made, the Falcons should instead do it to target Virginia DE Chris Long.
If you ask me (and by default you are since you’re reading this), Long is the best prospect in this draft. That doesn’t mean he’s the most talented, but when you factor in talent, character, work ethic, and how he projects to the NFL, all the things that scouts consider when they are building their draft board, he’s the best player.
He has the potential to be every bit if not better than his Hall of Fame father. The likely trade scenario would involve the Falcons shipping Hall and the No. 3 overall pick to Miami for the No. 1 overall pick. And frankly, I think so highly of Long, I would really think about making this trade.
Now, I’m sure there are those thinking: “Why would the Falcons draft another 1st round DE when we just drafted Jamaal Anderson last year?” Well, my response is that you’re not drafting Long to replace Anderson, you’re drafting him to replace John Abraham.
I hope Abe is going anywhere anytime soon. But let’s be reasonable. In 2010, Abraham will be 32 years old and carry a cap hit of over $9 million. It’s just unrealistic at this point to expect him to continue to be producing at a level by then that would merit such a financial investment.
So drafting his replacement sooner rather than later makes a lot of sense, considering that is does take at least a year or two before defensive ends adjust to the NFL.
Mike Smith’s defensive scheme is predicated on the front four being able to put pressure on the quarterback. It remains to be seen if Anderson can accomplish that, and it’s likely that Abraham won’t be able to for very much longer.
The other thing about Long is that while not as flashy as say other prospects, he’s a very good face for this organization. He’s got a great work ethic and already established and displayed great leadership skills at UVA. This is exactly the type of player that Dimitroff wants to build as the centerpiece in the new era of Falcons football.
So what does this do with our other draft options. Assuming we don’t need to give up either of our 2nd round picks, we still are in a good position to move up to get a quarterback. It’s unlikely at this point that Matt Ryan falls out of the Top 10, but a player like Brian Brohm could be had late in Round 1. While I don’t think he’s as good as Ryan, I wouldn’t be upset if we had to “settle” for him.