The Atlanta Falcons season is over but now we in the Falcons nation turn our attention to the offseason. The offseason, that magical time when crappy teams can hope that that one really good draft pick can give them a chance or for a contender to get that last piece to push them over the edge of greatness.
So, I want to reflect a minute on a great draft class in 2008 and look forward to April 2009 and ask my loyal readers whom we should draft.
I will go on record and say that I think the 2008 draft will go down as one of the single best drafts in NFL history! I don’t say this for any other reason then that I really believe it. If you don’t belive me let me name a few guys for you:
1. Matt Ryan– Easily the class of the draft and for once the guy who everyone would have taken first overall is a FALCON! He can make all of the throws, he is accurate and he is a strong leader. He is a prototypical QB is every way and in my opinion will prove himself to be an elite QB in this league.
2. Jerod Mayo– Wow! I love this linebacker from Tennessee. He is fast, smart and strong. There is something special with this guy and he will be the next big thing on a Patriots defense that is getting really old really quick. I have a feeling Mayo will be the new face of the Patriots defense.
3. Jonathan Stewart– The best power running back I have seen come out of college in years! He is so good, so strong and the thing I love more than anything is his feet. He hits the hole with authority and has such a good sense for scoring. He is awesome and I wish he were a Falcon, or at least not in the Falcons division because he is going to be punishing the birds for years to come.
4. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie– He has come into the league and made a secondary that I have always laughed at really pretty damned credible. I am going to say this and just move on right now DRC as they call him around here in the “Valley of the Sun” is the best cornerback I have seen in a while. He is smart and I have a feeling he just might be the best CB in the league here in the next couple of years. He reminds me of Deion Sanders in a lot of ways, that is the biggest compliment I can give someone because Sanders is my favorite player of all time. So there, a positive thing about a Cardinal.
5. Joe Flacco– The guy went 18 in the draft! 17 other guys went ahead of the only rookie QB still in the playoffs today. He is coached by a rookie on a team that features in my opinion the best defense in the league (sorry Pittsburgh). Flacco has tons of poise, strength and reminds me a lot of another Pittsburgh player (Ben R.) that is why I would not be surprised to see Flacco winning the Lombardi Trophy this year.
6. Chris Johnson– The rookie goes to the pro bowl and destroys opponents week in and week out. He is special and I have a feeling he will be tormenting the AFC South for years to come. He did deserve consideration for rookie of the year but with guys like Flacco and Ryan playing a much more difficult position Johnson was the third banana in an exceptional rookie class.
7. Felix Jones– is a hell of a homerun hitter. It really was too bad the guy got hurt and he is a really fun player to watch. With his size and speed I can see Jones being a fan favorite for years or a player hampered by injuries and out of the league in just a few years, just like I have predicted for Reggie Bush. Sorry.
8. Curtis Lofton– A second round pick who makes every play he should and even a few he shouldn’t. In my opinion he my be the next big thing at the middle linebacker position. Lofton is a talented playmaker who is going to be up there with Jerod Mayo in terms of great players at their positions. Just you watch.
9. Eddie Royal– I don’t usually give a lot of respect to the Broncos. Usually because they just bother me and I don’t generally like them. But Royal is a very good receiver who is not big but his speed and hands are really something to behold. I am a fan and I think he will be around for a long while in the mile high city.
10. Matt Forte– Not many running backs can come in and be their teams offense in their first year. He was brilliant and I think will continue to be for years. He is quick, strong and has great feet and has a fire in him that will make him one of the best running backs in the NFL for years to come, just watch!
11. Chad Henne– Just may be the best rookie QB who didn’t start or lead his team to the playoffs or really see any playing time.
12. Donnie Avery– I didn’t watch many Rams games but I saw his highlights and if he plays this well next year we could see the another great receiver taking over for Tori Holt in St. Louis. Explosive!
13. Chevis Jackson- He made a great play in the wildcard game taking the ball of of the air in Phoenix and recording his first playoff interception. The product from LSU is a solid tackler and has really good instincts and is a heck of a corner. He may play nickle now but just watch and don’t be surprised if he plays a bigger role in the Falcons secondary next year.
14. Harry Douglas– This guy is just a sparkplug. He never lets up and is always going to be there to make you miss him. Douglas has speed and hands and I love his route running. He was the cherry of top of the Falcons great draft in 2008.
15. Steve Slaton– He could go either way for me. He could be another solid running back or could slip into obscurity too, although I think the latter is far less likely. Slaton could just possibly be the best running back no one sees coming.
This is an incomplete list as I only went through the first 3 rounds but I want to know what other people think out there and I welcome challenges and comments.
The Bird Speaks!