After a fairly low key day 1 for the Falcons, day 2 of the draft turned out to be far more entertaining. With their second round pick the Falcons selected defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota. With their third round pick the Falcons selected safety Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin. With these selections the Falcons get two extremely athletic players who have a ton of potential but who are both incredibly raw.
Before the draft there was talk about Hageman potentially going top 15 and personally I was against this. Despite having a incredibly high ceiling Hageman had far too many flaws to warrant a top 15 pick. However, getting Hageman with the 37th pick can almost be called a steal. There are times on film when Hageman is just an absolute monster. One tape that particularly stands out is his game vs NorthWestern where Hageman is simply tossing lineman around. The big issue most had with Hageman is his consistency and whoever drafted him was banking that they could extract that talent. Having coached him at the Senior Bowl the Falcons had a lot of exposure to Hageman and defensive line coach Bryan Cox clearly felt Hageman was a special talent who he could mold into a dominant d-lineman.
While I was extremely happy with the Falcons pick in the second round the third round selection did bring us all down to earth with an all too usual bump. Everyone knew the Falcons would target a safety at some point in the draft but I’m not sure many had Southward as that player, especially when players such as Terrence Brooks, Dion Bailey, and Craig Loston were still on the board. I have to be perfectly honest I hadn’t even heard of Dezmen Southward before the Falcons drafted him and so I couldn’t really have an opinion on the pick. I did watch some Southward tape this morning and these are my initial thoughts.
Southward’s 4.37 speed did show up on film immediately .He has very good closing speed and takes good angles to the ball. From what I watched he looked a sure tackler who has the ability to make the big hit. Southward is also versatile, he can play both safety and slot corner and was lined up in a variety of positions and formations at Wisconsin. The big are of concern that I have is Southward’s football IQ. He really doesn’t seem to have a good feel for the game and this is especially apparent in zone coverage where at times he just looks completely lost. In Southward, the Falcons seem to have got themselves a big physical safety who has all the potential. However, Southward has a lot of work to do before he’s a NFL starting safety and he will really benefit from a year learning from veterans William Moore and Dwight Lowery. Although its far too early to say at this stage Southward looks like a bit of a reach but the Falcons clearly saw something they liked at the Senior Bowl so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
Overall both picks on day 2 were a bit of a shock. I really liked Hageman but truth be told I never really saw him as a ‘Falcons pick’. It is nice to see the Falcons select a player who did have a couple of character concerns earlier in his career, the Pioli influence perhaps showing here. The big negative coming out of day 2 is that the Falcons once again failed to address the pass rushing need. I have no idea why Dimitroff doesn’t like taking pass rushers on the first two days but to be honest its starting to wear a bit thin.
Looking ahead to the last day and a couple of players who I feel the Falcons should focus on. Telvin Smith is the best player still available in my opinion and would be a great addition to Mike Nolan’s defense. The linebacker is great in coverage and has true sideline to sideline speed. You can line Smith up in a variety of areas and he would be another weapon to the ever expanding swiss army knife that is the Falcons defense. Listening to coach Smith talk about the Falcons focusing on ‘wide’ in-line tight ends I’m convinced they will take a long look at TE Arthur Lynch from Georgia. Lynch isn’t flashy or explosive but he’s a great target in the short to intermediate game and is a willing blocker. The Falcons will take a running back today, my choice would be Florida State’s Devonta Freeman but I think the Falcons are high on both Storm Johnson and James White.
Here are a few other players who I think the Falcons will be looking at:
Aaron Murray – QB – Georgia
Jordan Tripp – Linebacker – Montana
Matravis Bryant – Wide Receiver – Clemson
Jackson Jeffcoat – Defensive End – Texas