Rating the Atlanta Falcons 2010 Draft

Who were the surprises, the reaches and the sure things?

For three months there was a lot of excitement and anticipation about what magic the Falcons’ front office would conjure up in this year’s draft. Now, a day after the 2010 NFL Draft concluded, I wonder if the clock has struck midnight.

I do not pretend to be a draft expert or a professional talent evaluator, but what I am is a Falcons fan. A fan who understands the places they can improve and which players make the best fit.

I was the first to give Thomas Dimitroff the benefit of the doubt based on his previous track record. As a Falcons fan, I hope he proves me wrong. But based on this draft alone, there are a lot of question marks.

Questionable Selections

Player Position School Commentary
Shann Schillinger Safety Montana You can’t really spend too much time on a 6th round pick but I thought this was a reach. If they wanted Safety help, Kurt Coleman (Ohio State) and Myron Rolle (Florida State) were still on the board. Perhaps because Schillinger is a more natural Free Safety they went this direction. Look at that, I ended up spending too much time on him.
Joe Hawley Offensive Guard UNLV This is the most puzzling choice for me. Hawley was projected as a late round or possible Free Agent pickup. He lacks the size to handle the big bull rushers in the NFC and the chances he becomes a long-term starter are slim. Maybe the Falcons like him because he is versatile enough to play all three interior line positions, but there were better choices on the board; Mitch Petrus (Alabama) and Sheeley Smith (Colorado State) to name two.
Kerry Meier WR Kansas Meier was the biggest reach in the draft for the Falcons. He will be a slot receiver, possession-guy, at best. With other WR talents on the board like Carlton Mitchell (South Florida) and Meier’s teammate, Dezmon Briscoe, this was a surprising pickup especially considering they could have had him in the 6th round or even brought him in undrafted.
Corey Peters DT Kentucky This isn’t a bad pick based on the player. Peters is a solid player and while he won’t become an every-down starter, he adds depth to the rotation. This is just a questionable pick based on need. The Falcons failed to get a pass-rushing DE with this pick and that’s why it makes the list. Other options at this point were Cam Thomas (North Carolina) and Al Woods (LSU).

There are upsides and downsides to almost every player in the draft and since it takes about three years to really evaluate a draft, I’m willing to give Dimitroff until 2013 before I say I told you so.

On to the Positive

The following list of players will make immediate impacts this season. These are the players and draft picks that keeps my Dimitroff poster hanging in my office.

Player Position School Commentary
Sean Weatherspoon Linebacker Missouri I still think Weatherspoon was a small reach at 19, but the Falcons loved everything he brings and had no choice but to take him there or they would have missed out completely. He will play from day one and should see significant time at the weak side linebacker spot.
Dominique Franks Cornerback Oklahoma This is my favorite pick! This is the one pick I nailed in The Bird Cage’s Expert Panel, but that’s not the only reason he’s listed here. I loved Franks to the Falcons all along but I thought they would have to get him in the 3rd round. Adding him to your team with a 5th round pick is phenomenal value. He’s a terrific cover corner and will improve what is rapidly becoming one of the most improved secondaries in the league.
Mike Johnson Offensive Guard Alabama Johnson is the one offensive lineman the Falcons drafted this year that will be a productive member of the rotation. He has played both guard and tackles positions and is a classic “hard-worker, high-motor” guy the Falcons love. With the offensive line facing upheaval over the next few years, he is a smart choice.

Final Analysis

Most of the pundits are giving the Falcons a low grade. It’s not surprising since they reached on six of their seven picks.

I mean it, though, when I say the Falcons have earned my trust. So when I say they had a questionable draft, I hope I’m wrong.

What do you think? Did everything go according to plan? What would have liked to see different? Which players will see immediate playing time? Let me know in the comments.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Dominique Franks Mike Johnson NFL Draft Sean Weatherspoon Thomas Dimitroff

  • http://www.thefalcoholic.com Dave Choate

    I think their draft board looks so different than any other team’s that it ends up looking mind-boggling. Still, they clearly got the players they wanted, and that has to count for something.

    • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

      Well said Dave. It’s true the front office hasn’t given us a reason to doubt them yet. And I’ll be the first one to buy my Kerry Meier jersey if he becomes a pro bowl talent!

  • http://Atlantafalcons.com Michael McIntosh

    I understand your concern with the picks but I think the Falcons had only certain DE on their board(Morgan, Graham, Gresham) We worked out all of the players we drafted so I am not surprised of the picks, so let’s break it down.
    -Shane Shillinger is a 200lb fast true safety who is a special teams expert but hits like a ton of bricks.
    -Corey Peters was named to All SEC 1st team and lead DT in plays behind the line of scrimmage, tackles, very durable and played in the toughest division in college football. he started for three years and I have watched him. He is better than three of our DT right now.
    - Kerry Meier was a former QB who understand defense coverages and runs great routes, was faster at the combine than his teammate Briscoe. The stats on Meier 40 plus TD’s in two years..sick. One of the TD beat Mizzo in 2008. Big strong WR and catches everything that is thrown in his direction.
    -Hawley we worked him out for three hours and decided to take him instead ofthe guy out of BC, this guy is a freak of an athelete and can pull and get to the second level.

    • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

      I love the knowledge you bring every time Michael. I always learn something new.

      I’m willing to digress on the DE soapbox for a couple of reasons. It’s clear Dimitroff thinks Jamaal Anderson can get it together this year. Also, he must believe John Abraham has another high-level year in him. Another reason could be they believe the pressure on the quarterback doesn’t have to come from the edge, as evidenced by the large number of DTs on the roster now.

      On the Kerry Meier pick, the Falcons are obviously confident that Harry Douglas will be fully healed from his injury. Jenkins isn’t a clear #2 and Meier could play the slot in 3 and 4 WR sets. I love the breakdown you had on him and as a former QB perhaps they use him in wildcat formations.

      I still feel they reached on a lot of the picks and could have had them in later spots. But maybe you’re right, if there was no one on the board they liked, then they had no choice but to take their guy out of place.

  • http://blackandteal.com Terry

    You had a fantastic draft. MIke Johnson and Sean Weatherspoon are great choices. This was a year to remember when you look back on it.

    • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

      Appreciate you stopping by and thanks for the positive words. We haven’t been let down by Dimitroff yet so I still have faith despite minor reservations. Agree completely with Spoon and Johnson and also Dominique Franks. Great value that late in the draft.

  • funballad

    I rate this draft D+ compared to what they passed on in both the first round and the third round. They passed on Bryan Bulaga in the first round. I expect may be pro bowl material and a bigger need than linebacker. I was shocked he wasnt grabbed around 8th pick and waited until green bay picked him at 23rd or whatever pick. In the third round tennant was still available at either pick we had and we passed him up to reach for someone that wasn’t going to be picked for another couple of rounds at least.
    Bang for the buck F….. we reached way too far down on each and every pick including our first pick. Spoon isn’t a bad pick but better was available and we were too focused on a plan that quality was bypassed.

    • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

      Good to hear your breakdown FunBallad. You bring up solid points and you are not in the minority. There has been a lot of head-scratching this year. Because the Falcons have delivered the past 2 years, there is also a lot of defending the picks. I hope it works out.