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Atlanta Falcons: Targeting a Tight End in the First Round?


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Atlanta Falcons: Targeting a Tight End in the First Round?

The Atlanta Falcons approach the 2009 draft having lost five starters from a defense that ranked 24th in the NFL in 2008, and zero starters from a young offense that ranked 6th. Even with the Falcons' areas for improvement seemingly obvious, some observers believe the Falcons will target a tight end with the 24th pick of the draft.

Thomas Dimitroff has apparently mastered the art of pre-draft posturing.

The masterful misdirection perpetrated by the GM this year should not come as a surprise. Last season the Falcons entered the draft with a massive hole at the most important position on the football field, yet Dimitroff had many believing the Falcons would draft Glenn Dorsey.

The idea of the Falcons drafting a tight end with the first pick is so insane that I am not going to waste any more of my time, or the readers’ time, debunking it.

The Falcons will go defense in round one, and I suspect they will stay on that side of the football for rounds two and three as well. Because the Falcons lost both Michael Boley and Keith Brooking to free agency in the offseason, many pundits have the team targeting linebackers in the first round, but there are compelling reasons to think the Falcons will look in another direction.

The Falcons thought enough of Coy Wire at the end of 2008 to give him the starting nod over a healthy Michael Boley, and the Falcons signed veteran LB Michael Peterson from the Jaguars in the offseason. Throw promising third-year LB Stephen Nicholas into the equation, and the Falcons need at OLB appears less urgent. The other factor is the deep draft class itself as Atlanta can acquire a similar caliber of player with the 55th pick as they would be able to draft with the 24th pick. This is not the case at other positions of need.

The Falcons have an obvious need at safety, but there is not a safety in this draft worthy of first round consideration, so the Falcons will look elsewhere with their first pick.

The two positions the Falcons will likely target in round-one are defensive tackle and cornerback. The Falcons have one solid young starter at each of those positions in Jonathan Babineaux and Chris Houston, with the balance of those roster positions filled by journeymen type players. The cornerback situation is a bit more stable as Brent Grimes played well at CB for the Falcons in the first half of the 2008 season, and Von Hutchins is returning from injury.

Against this backdrop, I predict Peria Jerry is the player the Falcons will target with the 24th pick of the draft. Jerry is an athletic player with excellent measurables to go with outstanding production in the toughest conference in college football. He will fill a pressing need in the middle of the Falcons defensive line and be a fixture on the Falcons' defense for years to come.

Most importantly, there is an enormous drop off in the draft class at Defensive Tackle after B.J. Raji and Jerry are gone. This makes him the easy choice if he is on the board.

If Jerry is not available when the Falcons pick, I believe the second choice will be CB Vontae Davis from Illinois. If both Jerry and Davis are off the board, and that would be unfortunate for the Falcons, the team might look at CB Darius Butler of Connecticut or look at trading down to the top of the second round for more draft picks.

This is how the first four rounds of the Falcons draft might play out, with alternative picks in parentheses –

1st round – pick 24 – Peria Jerry (Vontae Davis, Darius Butler)

2ndround – pick 55 – Clint Sintim (Ron Brace, William Moore)

3rd round – pick 90 – Chip Vaughn (Macho Harris, Sen’Derrick Marks)

4thround – pick 125 – Bradley Fletcher (Jonathan Casillas, David Bruton)

In round-five, the Falcons will finally get their Tight End when they draft John Phillips from the University of Virginia.

In 2008, the Falcons laid the foundation for the Falcons offense by drafting Matt Ryan, Sam Baker, and Harry Douglas. This draft will be used to do the same for the defense.

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I just can't figure out why there is this feeling the Pettigrew is a dominant player. Is the coaching staff at OK State so bad that they had one of the dominant TEs of all time and couldn't figure out a way to get him a TD all year? He may be a solid NFL TE, but my opinion is that you only draft a TE in the first round if you think he is HOF caliber, or if you just won the Super Bowl and don't have a lot of holes in your team.

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Respectfully, How is John Phillips an upgrade over Ben Hartsock and Justin Peele?

Well we don't know. But I'd rather not know that a 5th round pick is going to pan out than not know if a 1st round pick is going to pan out. I can make a very viable argument that there isn't much difference between Pettigrew and Phillips.

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I am very sure they won't draft a TE in the first 2-3 picks. CB, DT, and possibly TE then. But Im thinking another defensive player.

Peele will get the job done, I don't think a TE is a priority anymore, like it was last season.

And remember the Falcons still have LB Robert James which they picked last season at #5, but he was hurt in training camp and out for the season. Expect his debut this year.

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I am very sure they won't draft a TE in the first 2-3 picks. CB, DT, and possibly TE then. But Im thinking another defensive player.

Peele will get the job done, I don't think a TE is a priority anymore, like it was last season.

And remember the Falcons still have LB Robert James which they picked last season at #5, but he was hurt in training camp and out for the season. Expect his debut this year.

Yeah I am excited to see what James can contribute. I'm not too worried about OLB, I think Nicholas and Peterson or Wire and Peterson will make a solid pair right now.

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Great post. You hit the nail on the head it would truly be insane for the Falcons to pick Pettigrew with their number one pick. The proponents of picking Pettigrew will cry and whine that we need a TE. No we don't NEED a TE we had a top ten offense last year that should only get better. We do NEED defensive players from the D line, the LB corp to the secondary including safety and CB. TD already said he would concentrate on the defensive so let's take him at his word.

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A GM has be a master of mis-information this time of year so no one knows who is really being targeted by the front office. Having said that TD himself has admitted that the focus of the draft will be on defence, although he hardly giving away any secrets by making that statement.

I also can't see us picking a TE until the later rounds for two reasons, firstly we have several more pressing needs on defence and secondly this is a reasonably deep draft for TE's. We could pick up Cornelius Ingram in say the 4th round & have him develop his blocking skills over the next year or so.

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I just posted some research in another thread....Tight Ends are the 2nd safest pick in the top 2 rounds of the draft.

Centers have the longest career retention for 1st/2nd round picks.

TE's have the 2nd longest career retention for the 1st/2nd round picks.

WR's and LB's are statistically tied for last place.

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...The two positions the Falcons will likely target in round-one are defensive tackle and cornerback...
We said the same thing last year and TD drafted a QB. He may be trying to finsih off the offensive side of the ball by getting a pass catching TE and/or an OT to fill the void left by Weiner's retirement. Don't be surprised if he throws you another knuckle ball on this one.

Oh, one tidbit of info. The only thing common in our five regular season losses last year is WE COULDN'T RUN THE BALL. Several teams totally shut down our vaunted #2 rushing attack last year. Each time that happened, we lost. Another reason why TD may be looking to fortify the Oline with OTs, OGs and/or TEs.

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Cool. My mock draft was pretty similar to yours actually.

I beleive that DT will be the priority here. Peria Jerry seems the best option in the 1st round. If he's taken we could go with Hood or Vontae Davis if he's still there.

In the 2nd, I'd like to see Patrick Chung with us rather than Delmas. If they're both gone, maybe Sintim would be a good option.

In the 3rd, how about a CornerBack like DeAngelo Smith? If he's gone, I'd go for Victor Harris.

In the 4th, Im going to go for Connor Barwin but I don't think he'll be here. If he is, STEAL!! I'd like to see Jonathan Casillas drop this far as well. Not sure who I'd rather have out of the 2 though.

In the 5th, we take a TE. Im hoping we take John Phillips. He can run great routes and shows very good hands. Comparable to Pettigrew. If Emmanuel Cook falls down here, we take him with our early 5th round pick then take John Phillips after. Cook would be a steal if this happened.

And the final 'suprise' picks that show good potential :

In the 6th, let's go for a WR in Sammie Stroughter. Very nimble and can dodge lots of Defenders. Pretty resillient and is competitive. Has potential. Jorvorskie Lane would be a cool Fullback. He has a LOT of potential and with Mughelli there, he could become a good Fullback one day. Could prove to be a starter within a year or two of good coaching. DE Brandon Williams would be a steal but I doubt he he would drop this far.

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I like Jerry, but i dont think he is the DT that we are looking for, especailly since he came in at his pro-day listed at 290, which is a lot closer to Babs. I also think that we may get a CB if there are not DE, LB, TE available that we have on our draft board.

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I like Jerry, but i dont think he is the DT that we are looking for, especailly since he came in at his pro-day listed at 290, which is a lot closer to Babs. I also think that we may get a CB if there are not DE, LB, TE available that we have on our draft board.

I agree, we don't need to park a bus on the D-line (Gravy), but Jerry is a UT similar to Babs. I feel Ziggy Hood would be the choice if we take a DT in the first round, I'm sure once he came into camp he could put 10lbs on his current 6'3'' 300lb frame.

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good job on nthe write up Peyton

I think we will go CB, DL or TE in round 1, according to which one is rated the highest at our pick. If there is a S rated that high, I think you coud throw that in there. The draft is deep in LB and I think we can find one in rounds 2-5.

I guaranty you they are looking closely at Delmas, but the Pats used to take CB a lot in round 1 and that's a position that is too costly in FA to pick up.

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I really hope we don't draft a TE on Day 1 and more so in the 1st Round. They should re-title the article to Falcons targeting Brandon Pettigrew because no other TE is worth a 1st Round Pick, heck not even Pettigrew is.

We have bigger holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball.

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