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The Falcoholic: 2014 Nfl Draft Results: Falcons Complete Class


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2014 NFL Draft Results: Atlanta Falcons Complete Draft Class

By Dave Choate@TheFalcoholic on May 10 2014, 8:00p 377


The Atlanta Falcons put together a 2014

Here are the Falcons' 2014 NFL Draft results.

We're going to give early grades, get your grades and much, much more in the days and weeks ahead as we learn more about this draft class and how each player within it will fit in Atlanta. Because a few of you have asked, I wanted to share a few initial thoughts.

The weakness of this class is that it does not prominently feature a ready edge rusher. Prince Shembo might be useful in that capacity down the line, but the Falcons spent an entire offseason shopping for upgrades that didn't come. If Jonathan Massaquoi takes a big step forward and the Falcons properly harness the rest of their rotation, they could surprise other teams, but this won't be anything close to an elite pass rush once again.

At the same time, though, the Falcons made some important picks here, and for once they didn't let character concerns or the desire for polished players dictate their draft strategy. Hageman has a chance to be a truly dominant interior pass rusher and 3-4 end, Southward has all the tools to be an above average starting safety and Shembo, Allen and Spruill all have legitimate upside. Smallwood and Starr are late-round picks to try to shore up a group of linebackers that frankly needs the help, joining Spruill and Shembo as options for a linebacking corps that will need some re-tooling in the Falcons' 3-4 sets. Starr and Shembo will likely stay outside, while Spruill and Smallwood move inside.

Freeman gives them a potential lead back in a committee down the line, while Matthews gives them a potential top five left tackle for many years to come. It's a high-variance class, which means it could get Thomas Dimitroff fired a couple of years down the line or prove to be more successful than the most optimistic among us currently are inclined to think.

Me? Aside from the glaring and disappointing lack of an edge rusher, I thought the Falcons stuck to their stated offseason goals, and I think it was overdue. This team is bigger and tougher along the lines of scrimmage than it was a year ago and has added pieces to a disappointing defense with an eye on remaking the unit. Whether that translates into more wins is an open question we'll have to wait to answer, but it's a step in a direction I hope will be productive. That and the 3-4 sets the Falcons are running more often, gosh ******. Couple that with the improvements they've made to the right side of the line and it's easier to see a bounceback year, even if's unlikely they'll be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2014.

Your thoughts? Thanks, as always, for being Falcoholics, and stay tuned for a lot more content in the days ahead.

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A few more draft grades:

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons started their draft by getting bigger, stronger and more talented at their most pressing positional groups — the offensive and defensive lines. First-round offensive tackle Jake Matthews should slot right in as Matt Ryan’s blindside protector for the next half-decade. And on defense, Minnesota hybrid lineman Ra’Shede Hageman has the potential to play over multiple gaps on a line that has changed in scheme. Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward is an excellent athlete who can move around to a few different roles, and Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo is an interesting developmental pass rusher. All in all, a nice haul for the Falcons — if Hageman develops into the player he can be.

Grade: B


A rough 2013 season had the Falcons picking in the top 10. They headed into the draft with some clear needs, particularly in the trenches. General manager Thomas Dimitroff had his work cut out for him.

They were a mess last season, particularly along the offensive line. They got some help at No. 6.

Offensive tackle Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M has long been a popular projection for the Falcons, and Dimitroff delivered. It wasn't a sexy pick, but it was the one he had to make.

As players with upside go, defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman out of Minnesota is one of the best in the draft.

The athletic lineman oozes potential, but he was a bit too raw for the first round. The Falcons were able to snag him early in the second round, gaining a nice rotational player who can develop into a devastating pass-rusher in the middle.

Atlanta added some great value later in the draft in running back Devonta Freeman and linebacker Yawin Smallwood. All in all, it was a solid draft for Dimitroff and the Falcons.

Grade: B+


Atlanta Falcons: They addressed a lot of needs with their picks, including getting a top tackle in Jake Matthews. The second- and third round picks will both be rookie contributors. Grade: B-plus


NFC South

Atlanta Falcons:The Falcons' primary goal in the off-season was to get bigger and tougher at the line of scrimmage and despite focusing on that during free agency, it was again the play throughout the draft, beginning with the safest player in the 2014 class, OT Jake Matthews. Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman lacks Matthews' polish or consistency but he offers extraordinary athleticism for a 6-6, 310 pounder. The Falcons addressed two other significant areas of concern with free safety Dezmen Southward and one of the top backs in the draft in Devonta Freeman, a Ray Rice-clone who could spell (or eventually replace) Steven Jackson. Day Three linebackers Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr are interesting prospects who could find a niche in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's hybrid scheme.

Grade: B


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