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How the Falcons big board "should" look in this draft


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Jake Long

T, Michigan

War Room analysis

Strengths: Is massive. Shows rare strength, competitiveness and aggressiveness. When using hand punch aggressively, can jolt defensive ends backward. Does a good job of pass blocking with leverage, and adjusts well in tight spaces. Works well with others to negate line stunts and blitzes. Is an excellent down blocker, driving defensive linemen down the line. Reaches head-up defensive ends quickly, and shows the strength to turn them out of plays.

Weaknesses: Is somewhat of a 'tweener -- has the height and build of a tackle but the athleticism and quickness of a guard. Lacks the quickness to slide outside to protect the corner from explosive edge pass rushers. Struggles to adjust to double moves. Does not consistently use his hands well in pass protection, leaving his chest exposed. Tends to stop moving his feet after initial contact in pass protection, and thus gets beaten by secondary pass-rush moves. On in-line run blocks, tends to bend at waist and lean to maintain blocks.

Bottom line: Long is one of the most hyped prospects in years, and he almost entered the '07 draft before wisely going back to Michigan for his senior season. He lacks the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but with improved technique could become a fine right tackle, a la the Browns' Ryan Tucker. Long certainly will be drafted much higher than we have him rated because NFL coaches tend to fall in love with tough, smart linemen. Still, we feel he is not an elite prospect and that he projects only as a solid right tackle or guard.

Doesnt look like they think he is a elite prospect.I think he will do better than this but we need to wait on the combine and some workouts but it looks like there are some redflags here.

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Matt Ryan

QB, Boston College

War Room analysis

Strengths: Is smart, and consistently makes good decisions with the ball. Shows good poise in the pocket. Does not panic as the pocket collapses; will throw away the ball to avoid a sack. Slides around smoothly in the pocket to avoid pressure, when he senses it. When forced out of pocket, keeps head up and eyes downfield to find receivers; can re-set and throw accurately on the move. Strides into throws nicely, and shows the arm strength to make all NFL throws with zip and accuracy. Is patient going through progressions; consistently finds second and third options.

Weaknesses: Has a slight windup in delivery, allowing defensive backs to break and close quickly on the ball. Does not consistently sense/feel backside pressure and thus absorbs some hard hits; this could lead to fumbling problems in the NFL. Struggles to consistently complete key passes on third down. Does not consistently see the linebacker in underneath coverage, leading to interceptions. Lacks elite athleticism.

Bottom line: Ryan struggled through a difficult junior season because a foot injury greatly limited his availability to practice, throwing off his footwork and mechanics. Now healthy, he is playing at an elite level and has elevated the whole Boston College program. That's especially impressive considering he had to digest a whole new offense prior to senior season, learning to make all new line calls and pre-snap adjustments. Ryan has the physical skills plus the smarts and poise to become a good NFL starter.

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I would guess:

1- Darren McFadden, RB

2- Glenn Dorsey, DT

3- Brian Brohm, QB

4- Matt Ryan, QB

5- Sedric Ellis, DT

6- Kenny Phillips, FS

7- Jake Long or Ryan Clady, OT

This is not based on position of need, but player projections/talent. I only excluded positions I just cant see us taking (like Chris Long, DE)

I know OT is a huge need, but IMO Long is not as good an overall prospect as those listed above him. I also think there is a (small) chance that Clady could elevate to the top OT.

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