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Stretching the Field: Dirty Birds


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The Falcons are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but their 2008 draft class could yield them a huge return.

The Atlanta Falcons makeover in the past year has been forced and dramatic. With Michael Vick, the former face of the franchise, in federal prison for his part in a dog fighting ring, the team underwent a brutal 2007 season. The team endured an ugly divorce with head coach Bobby Petrino, who left the team after Week 13 for the University of Arkansas. With a new power structure of Thomas Dimitroff as general manager and head coach Mike Smith in place, the Falcons are looking to reverse a culture of losing. The first day of their inaugural draft class could end up featuring up to five starters this season.

Round 1 Pick 3 - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

Ryan was a highly polarizing figure in this year s draft. Some felt that he was surefire NFL starter and some other experts felt he was too turnover prone. Whatever the case may be, Ryan was the best quarterback in the class of 2008. Ryan has good leadership and moxie, and is experienced in a pro-style offense. Ryan s contract, which features $34.75 million in guaranteed money, could be the piece that makes or breaks this draft. If he fails, the financial implications could be catastrophic.

Round 1, Pick 21 - Sam Baker, OT, Southern California

In terms of need, no one is as important as Baker. The team s line was already in a state of transition, but both tackle spots were desperately thin. Baker was the best value in terms of tackles left, but the team may have reached on need. The tackle market was thinning out, but Atlanta feels confident in Baker. His style of play isn t pretty, but he is a veteran left tackle who recovered from a poor 2006 season to play well as a senior.

Round 2, Pick 37 - Curtis Lofton, MLB, Oklahoma

The most immediate impact likely will come in the way of Lofton. His instincts and quickness are top notch, and he should start at middle linebacker from Week 1. He can cover a good amount of ground in coverage, and change direction quickly and decisively. On top of being NFL-ready, Lofton s presence will also allow Keith Brooking to move back to his more natural weak-side linebacker position. Lofton has the kind of skills and makeup to be an early Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Round 2, Pick 68 - Chevis Jackson, CB, Louisiana State

Jackson was a player whose value slipped slightly over his senior year, but was solid value where he was drafted. Jackson is a solid man coverage corner, but he shows the kind of instincts needed to succeed in zone coverage, also. His aggressiveness and versatility will be a positive for Smith s young defense.

Round 3, Pick 84 - Harry Douglas, WR, Louisville

On a team with a lot of names at wide receiver, but little production, Douglas could challenge for a starting job. Roddy White was a one man show in 2007 on a team with very little vertical options, and Douglas could compliment him well. Douglas works best out of the slot, where he uses his quickness and athleticism to exploit slower nickel and dime defenders. His hands are a work in progress, but Douglas is adept at making plays.

Round 3, Pick 98 - Thomas DeCoud, SS, California

The hard-hitting DeCoud should help beef up a position that the Falcons have been hurting at for some time. The Falcons have lacked a true force at either safety spot since before Jim Mora Jr. was head coach. DeCoud is a big hitter who plays recklessly, but could be an instant asset against the run. DeCoud is a sound player with good instincts, but is not much of a playmaker in coverage. Still, his ability to diagnose plays and quickly react will be an instant upgrade.

Dimitroff s first draft featured many versatile Patriots-type picks, smart versatile players who can contribute quickly.


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They hve things backwards w Baker. After his Jr season baker was considered a 1B LT prospect to Joe Thomas. He had a decent SR season, but was marred by injuries. Even with that he didnt have a *bad* season, just lackluster compared to his phenominal JR season (when he was 100%)

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1989fan (7/16/2008)
They hve things backwards w Baker. After his Jr season baker was considered a 1B LT prospect to Joe Thomas. He had a decent SR season, but was marred by injuries. Even with that he didnt have a *bad* season, just lackluster compared to his phenominal JR season (when he was 100%)

Exactly, he was an All-American in '06.

BTW- Where you been '89? Haven't seen you around lately.

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atlfalcon36 (7/16/2008)
LOL @ we haven't had an enforcer at safety since Jim Mora was coach... **** we haven't had a good safety since Brian Jordan and Scott Case... Milloy has been good but not great, and Bryan Scott was good for that one season

bryan scott could have been awesome had he not gotten that concussion

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