By Position, Falcons are 10th in NFL

Yahoo’s Jason Cole has been working his way through ranking every position category in the NFL and today we’ll review his choices for linebackers and defensive backs.

The Falcons had finished in the top half of the league in every category but that changed with the DB rankings.

Hit the jump to see how the Falcons ranked among the NFC South and how they’ve done as a team versus the rest of the league.

Linebacker Rankings

15. Atlanta: The Falcons are hoping that first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon will become the play-making linebacker the team desperately needs. Aside from end John Abraham, the Falcons are decidedly short on guys in the front seven who can make a game-changing play. Fellow linebackers Curtis Lofton and Mike Peterson are above-average players, but hardly impact guys. If the Falcons defense is going to take strides in the right direction this season, it’s going to need a lot more from this group.

Defensive Backs

28. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons’ secondary did more to promote speed training around the NFL than any other group in the league. Opposing receivers took one look at that coverage and realized all they had to do was run straight lines as fast as possible and they were probably going to make a play. That goes a long way toward explaining why Atlanta spent big on CB Dunta Robinson in free agency, giving him a six-year, $57 million contract. Robinson is really good, but he isn’t a game-changer. The Falcons still have to hope that CB Brent Grimes makes significant progress. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and Erik Coleman are solid against the run, but obviously vulnerable against the pass.

Digging Deeper

Cole has ranked seven position groups so far (QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, DB) and I wanted to see how the teams are stacking up cumulatively. Using his rankings for each position we can see which teams are well-rounded and which ones could be in for a long season.

We start with the entire NFL:

In a surprise (to me), the Baltimore Ravens have been the most well-rounded team in Cole’s rankings. Their lowest position rank is wide receiver with a 14. Four times they’ve ranked in the top five.

A close second is the New Orleans Saints with the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers rounding out the top five.

The Falcons finish tenth in the rankings with the defensive backs bringing down their overall rating. The offensive line was rated the best, coming in at fourth.

Now on to the NFC teams only:

The Saints and Vikings are number one and number two – just as they were at the end of the season. The Cowboys and Packers are solid threats and the Falcons have a solid showing at number five. That means a wild-card berth in the tough NFC South.

And speaking of the South:

The Falcons are second behind the Saints but have better players at running back and linebacker. The Panthers and the Buccaneers have combined for only one top finish in 14 category rankings.

What do you think? Any positions rated lower/higher than you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Jason Cole NFL Rankings Yahoo Sports

  • fila33lee

    Wait a second; Curtis Lofton is above average but hardly an impact guy? If I’m not mistaken didn’t he lead the league in tackles for several weeks last year? He may not be elite yet, but he’s better than above average. I’m not sure about that category, but I believe the rest of his rankings look fair, gotta love the OL rank.

    • Troy Heinzman

      Yeah, the Falcons have had a fairly solid showing in these rankings. The individual offensive lineman don’t get a lot of credit, but as a unit, they are one of the best.

  • fila33lee

    Yeah, I really have mad respect for Harvey Dahl’s game, you can’t just get that style anywhere. Do you think we are going to hold on to him considering the lineman that TD has already invested a Draft pick on?

    • Troy Heinzman

      I think the odd man out might be Blalock. If we can’t sign all three then I would prefer to keep Dahl and Clabo and let Mike Johnson take over for Blalock.

  • Eric / Cat Crave

    I don’t know. Cole’s been all over the board with the Panthers, and in a couple of areas it doesn’t really add up. Having the running backs ranked at three, and then the offensive line ranked at 19 makes no sense to me, when the o-line shares a big responsibility in the success of a running game.

    I also presume that included in the “RB” ranking would be fullbacks. In that case, how can the Panthers’ running game rank so highly with an unproven/unknown at the fullback position? Sure, Carolina has two 1,100+ yard runners on it’s roster, but a running game is only as strong as it’s (now) weakest link.

    Since you’re keeping up with Cole’s stuff better than I am, I just wanted to pick your brain on that one.

    • Troy Heinzman

      You bring up a good point about the RB/OL rankings. You figure you can’t have one without the other. But he must be saying that DW and JS are so good they can actually be that good with a horrible o-line. The rising tide floats all boats, if you will. I think Carolina is a team that has the most question marks. I have seen predictions from 10-6 and playoff-bound to 2-14. There’s a wide discrepancy. Most of the predictions for the Falcons are 9-7 to 11-5, pretty consistent.