Falcons Draw from Local Talent Pool

Cornerback Asher Allen (Getty)

In each of the last three NFL drafts, the Falcons have selected a player from the University of Georgia. In 2006, quarterback D.J. Shockley was selected in the seventh round with the 223rd pick overall. In 2007, tight end Martrez Milner was selected in the fourth round with the 133rd pick overall. Last season, running back Thomas Brown was selected in the sixth round with the 172nd overall pick.

Before Shockley was picked, the franchise had stayed away from Georgia players for more than a decade. They had taken Mitch Davis in the fourth round (118 overall) of the 1994 draft.

The Falcons brain trust was out in full force for Georgia's pro day.

The team was represented by general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith, director of player personnel Les Snead, assistant director of player personnel Lionel Vital, director of college scouting David Caldwell and scout Taylor Smith.

There was extremely heavy interest league-wide because Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford did not throw at the NFL scouting combine in February. Stafford was hoping to impress the Detroit Lions, who have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, which will be held on April 25 and 26.

"I think it would be all right to be picked No. 1," Stafford said. "Also, I want to get a chance to turn something around. It would be a heck of a place for me to go."
The Falcons will not be in the hunt for Stafford or Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, who figure to be long gone by the 24th pick. They also resolved those positions last season by drafting quarterback Matt Ryan and signing running back Michael Turner in free agency.

However, there are some other Bulldogs who might entice Dimitroff and the rest of the personnel department.

Cornerback Asher Allen, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, fullback Brannan Southerland and defensive end Jarious Wynn all participated in the NFL scouting combine.

Safety C.J. Byrd and wide receiver Demiko Goodman had fine showings at the team's pro day an may earn late round or free agency considerations.
Allen fills and need and Ellerbe could help re-stock a depleted linebacking unit.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Falcons decided to withdraw the offer from free agent tight end L.J. Smith, who later signed with the Ravens. The team liked him on his visit, but upon further review they decided that he was not a good scheme fit.

The Falcons hung their hat on the running game. They plan to continue to run the ball and Smith's blocking skills were considered not to be up to par.

--Quarterback Matthew Stafford put on dazzling passing exhibition at the University of Georgia's pro day to help solidify his spot near the top of the NFL Draft.
The draft eligible junior scripted out his 50 throws and worked under the direction of Georgia offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo on Thursday.
He started off slow and missed on a couple of throws to his left that sailed high, but Stafford was pleased with the overall workout.

"I wanted to be able to throw a bunch of balls," Stafford said. "In Indy you get to throw 10 to 15 balls. It was a good chance for me to get out here and throw 50 and let people see.

"I can't give a grade on it, but I felt pretty good. I missed one or two that were just too high, but other than that it went well."

--The Falcons appeared to be interested in Georgia cornerback Asher Allen, who ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, but showed weak ball skills. Cornerback Ramarcus Brown, who trained with Deion Sanders to prepare for the workouts, injured his left hamstring and had to pull out. Sanders was in attendance. The Falcons are looking to improve their cornerback play after allowing Domonique Foxworth to leave as a free agent.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a very knowledgeable player. He enjoys the X and Os, design of the game. Eventually, he says that when football is done he wants to be a coach and it shows in his preparation." -- Seattle offensive coordinator Greg Knapp on University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford at the school's pro day.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Falcons have not addressed the outside edges of their defense after letting their two starting outside linebackers - Michael Boley and Keith Brooking - leave during free agency. After personnel review, they want to get a better rush off the edge opposite of defensive end John Abraham.

Jamaal Anderson has started the last two seasons at right end, but had not developed into a force.

Larry English, a defensive end from Northern Illinois or a linebacker like USC's Clay Matthews could be options for the team with the 24th pick in the draft.

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

With the Falcons electing to pass on free agent tight end L.J. Smith, they will likely attempt to fill that void during the upcoming draft. There are several talented tight ends that are considered more pass catchers than blockers.

Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew is considered the top tight end in the draft, but some are concerned after he ran so slow at the combine. It was also alarming that he didn't score any touchdowns last season, suggesting that he doesn't have enough speed to get NFL level separation.

Other tight ends like Missouri's Chase Coffman, Rice's James Casey and South Carolina's Jared Cook are potentially good pro level pass catching tight ends that might be available in the second through fourth rounds.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Cornerback: Domonique Foxworth, the team's top cornerback, signed with Baltimore. The team doesn't appear to be enthralled with right cornerback Chris Houston. So cornerback is a position that must be addressed.

2. Safety: Thomas DeCoud and Jamaal Fudge are the top candidates to replace Lawyer Milloy at strong safety. Also, Antoine Harris is on the roster, but is coming off of a knee injury.

3. Outside linebackers. The Falcons signed Mike Peterson, who has played all three linebacker positions. He could win one of the outside positions, but will turn 33 in June. They will likely elect to select his heir apparent in the draft.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: P/K Michael Koenen: Tendered at $2.483M; signed tender Feb. 17.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--OT Wayne Gandy is veteran who could provide quality depth behind some young tackles.
--SS Lawyer Milloy will not return. He would like to end his career in Seattle and be reunited with coach Jim Mora.
--TE Marcus Pollard was signed late in the season and probably won't return.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)

--OT Pat McCoy (not tendered as RFA) spent the season on injured reserve.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--RT Tyson Clabo (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) has started for last two seasons and played with mean streak.
--RG Harvey Dahl (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) won the starting job last year. Played well against the run and gave up only one sack in 16 starts.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--OL Renardo Foster.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--DE Chauncey Davis: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.
--S Jamaal Fudge: Potential RFA; terms unknown.
--LB Tony Gilbert: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Brent Grimes: ERFA; terms unknown.
--S Antoine Harris: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DT Jason Jefferson: UFA; terms unknown.
--P/K Michael Koenen: FFA; $2.483M/1 yr.
--TE Justin Peelle: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--RB Jason Snelling: ERFA; terms unknown.
--C/G Ben Wilkerson (not tendered as RFA); $535,000/1 yr.
--LB Coy Wire: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--MLB Mike Peterson: UFA Jaguars; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--C Brett Romberg: UFA Rams; terms unknown.
--OT Will Svitek: FA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

--LB Michael Boley: UFA Giants; $25M/5 yrs, $11M guaranteed.
--LB Keith Brooking: UFA Cowboys; $6M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.
--CB Domonique Foxworth: UFA Ravens; $27.2M/4 yrs, $4M SB/$3.38 report bonus/$16.5M guaranteed.
--DT Grady Jackson: UFA Lions; $8M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--LT Todd Weiner (retired).

FalconInsider.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Forums


3 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets