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

Shann SchillingerSafetyMontanaYou 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 HawleyOffensive GuardUNLVThis 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 MeierWRKansasMeier 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 PetersDTKentuckyThis 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.

Sean WeatherspoonLinebackerMissouriI 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 FranksCornerbackOklahomaThis 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 JohnsonOffensive GuardAlabamaJohnson 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.