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Scouting The Enemy: Did Atlanta Close The Gap?


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Scouting the enemy: Did Atlanta close the gap?

By durst on May 6, 2015, 4:00p

Atlanta has the need for speed. They showed that during the 2015 NFL Draft, when their first three picks were among the fastest players at their position.

Prior to the start of free-agency, ProfootballFocus graded 16 of the Falcons' projected starters as poor to average, and gave "very good" or"elite" grades to only quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones, and corner Desmond Trufant.

In Rotoworld's post-season roster ranking, they ranking Atlanta just 22nd, which was probably better than their 2014 record would suggest. They noted, the 2014 Falcons ranked 31st in the NFL in sacks (22) and 30th in Football Outsiders'pass-rush metric. They suggested that RB, Center, and TE were also area of need.

While the Falcons were active in free agency, none of their signings look like significant improvements at their top four to five positions of need. The draft, however, is where they knocked it out of the park.

Falcons 2015 Draft:

Pick #8 - Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson)

Beasley has the kind of motor seldom found in front-seven defenders. His speed was evident at the NFL Combine, where he ran a blistering 4.53 40-yard dash — the best time of any D-lineman. Beasley's speed is also visible on tape. Beasley is a strong candidate for the LEO position, an hybrid OLB/DE.

Pick #42 - Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)

Robert Alford has shown flashes in his first two years, but hasn’t been consistent enough that you can put your faith in him as a starter. Meanwhile, Collins is an inexperienced (just 10 career starts) height/weight/speed guy, who reportedly failed "multiple" drug tests in college. Last season, Collins allowed just 18 receptions all season long and though he only had one interception he did break up seven passes. New Falcons' head coach Dan Quinn loves big corners, and at nearly 6'2/203 Collins ran well at the NFL Combine, including a 4.48 sec 40 time.

Pick #73 - Tevin Coleman (RB, Indiana)

Coleman underwent post-season surgery on his right big toe and didn't work out until an April 15 Pro Day, where Coleman ran 4.39. Per Profootball focus, Coleman was the only RB in the class to average four yards AFTER contact per rush. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution projects Tevin Coleman as 1A on the depth chart with 2014 rookie RB, Devonta Freeman as 1B.

Pick #107 - Justin Hardy (WR, East Carolina)

Atlanta lost third wideout, Harry Douglas in free agency but replaced him with Hardy, who is the FBS record holder for most receptions in NCAA history (387). Lack of size/speed limits him to slot-only.

Pick #137 - Grady Jarrett (DT, Clemson)

Possibly the steal of the draft. I had him as an early seconder. Jarrett is an undersized, one-gapping defensive tackle that is best suited to a 4-3 defense where he will be able to cause havoc as a pass rusher and in the run game.

Pick #225 - Jake Rodgers (OT, Eastern Washington)

Was a starter at Washington State before transferring to EWU, where he became an FCS All-American tackle. He's a developmental prospect with upside.

Pick #249 - Akeem King (S, San Jose State)

Reportedly ran a 4.43 40 at his Pro Day, and posted a 37.5-inch vertical. Path to making team will be dependent on special teams.

Falcons strengths:

1. The Matt Ryan (4,694 yards passing) to Julio Jones (104 catches, 1,593 yards) connection is difficult to stop.

2. Collins, Trufant, and William Moore look to be two-thirds of an excellent secondary.

Unfilled holes remaining:

1. TE - Where the Falcons will try to piece together spare parts Levine Toilolo, Tony Moeaki, and Jacob Tamme.

2. Offensive line - despite having invested two first round picks on offensive tackles (Baker and Matthews), the Falcons annually field one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

3. Free safety - With improvements in the front seven expected, the Falcons' biggest hole on defense is at free safety, where Dezmen Southward and Charles Godfrey are expected to man the "Earl Thomas position" in Gus Bradley's defense.

The Falcons appear to have more frosting than cake, but certainly have some exciting pieces to work with. The optimism that accompanied Gus Bradley's hire at Jacksonville a few seasons ago should serve as caution to Falcons fans thinking that Dan Quinn will quickly turn around the Falcons' defense. While Beasley brings Bruce Irvin potential, he is still the only real pass-rush threat on the team, and offensive coaches can scheme around that. I predict an 8-8 record, and third-place finish in the NFC South.

http://www.catscratchreader.com/2015/5/6/8557729/scouting-the-enemy-did-atlanta-close-the-gap

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The Falcons appear to have more frosting than cake, but certainly have some exciting pieces to work with. The optimism that accompanied Gus Bradley's hire at Jacksonville a few seasons ago should serve as caution to Falcons fans thinking that Dan Quinn will quickly turn around the Falcons' defense. While Beasley brings Bruce Irvin potential, he is still the only real pass-rush threat on the team, and offensive coaches can scheme around that. I predict an 8-8 record, and third-place finish in the NFC South.

How do you compare jacksonville and the Falcons?.. We have Matt Ryan and one of the best receiving corp in the NFL..jags have?..Bortles?

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The Falcons appear to have more frosting than cake, but certainly have some exciting pieces to work with. The optimism that accompanied Gus Bradley's hire at Jacksonville a few seasons ago should serve as caution to Falcons fans thinking that Dan Quinn will quickly turn around the Falcons' defense. While Beasley brings Bruce Irvin potential, he is still the only real pass-rush threat on the team, and offensive coaches can scheme around that. I predict an 8-8 record, and third-place finish in the NFC South.

How do you compare jacksonville and the Falcons?.. We have Matt Ryan and one of the best receiving corp in the NFL..jags have?..Bortles?

He specifically said defense though...

If our o-line stays healthy and we really get a run game, I think we grab 10 wins, minimum.

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So 3 guys make up 2/3rds of the secondary! Is this common core math?

Decided to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and this is what I came up with:

- If we run nickel 50% of the time, then on avg. we have 4.5 DBs on the field

- 3/4.5 = 2/3

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From the DLed school of math:

Collins, Trufant, and William Moore look to be two-thirds of an excellent secondary

LOL - that was the first thing that struck me when reading this article - no wonder this guy is a writer and not an actuary.

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I still don't see two other winning teams in this division. He said 8-8 would be good for third place.

Bucs aren't there yet and that's even if Winston is good. If he's not, they will be picking in the top 3 again.

Panthers have been getting worse since 2013. Their O-line may be worse than ours and Cam is their QB.

Saints still have Brees and Payton....and that's all. No Graham, no stills, no Grubbs, and they had a terrible draft. Their picks could be good in a few years but I don't see anyone that will make a huge impact year one.

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He specifically said defense though...

If our o-line stays healthy and we really get a run game, I think we grab 10 wins, minimum.

Yeah, and he's got a point -- Jacksonville is mired in the mid-20s right now after 2 seasons under Bradley. The question is do they make a leap this season?

I think we have more room for improvement and have done more to improve, though. We have a few pieces in place and Quinn knows the system inside and out and seems to have a very good feel for what he wants to do here. I haven't researched Jacksonville's defensive roster turnover, but I bet it isn't as big as the Falcons this season.

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The Panthers would be lucky to not get worse this season. The Ain'ts got worse. Bucs had a good offseason but they always do and always still suck.

Meanwhile we should have won the division last year if Smitty's Timeout-hands didn't keep twitching at the end of games, and we had arguably a top 5 offseason in the league.

I like our chances.

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The comments section of this was hilarious! They really act like there is a rivalry between us and them. I don't know any Falcons fan who really care about the Panthers/Falcons games beyond them being a divisional game we need to win. It's their Falcons/Saints rivalry. Except it's one sided...

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SMH... There's 5 players in the secondary when you run the nickel.

What stands out to me is...

"The Falcons annually field one of the worst offensive lines in the league"

And what do we do, focus on defense.

Who do you replace out of the following:

LT: Matthews

C: Hawley

RG: Asamoah

RT: Schraeder

Matthews is a no. Hawley is only disliked here, but he was good before injury. Asamoah no. Schraeder was really good before the teamwide implosion in week 17.

We need healthy, not talent, on the OL

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SMH... There's 5 players in the secondary when you run the nickel.

What stands out to me is...

"The Falcons annually field one of the worst offensive lines in the league"

And what do we do, focus on defense.

bc we also annually troughted out the worst defense in the league..

Defense was a bigger priority.

OL needs to be the next target.

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Who do you replace out of the following:

LT: Matthews

C: Hawley

RG: Asamoah

RT: Schraeder

Matthews is a no. Hawley is only disliked here, but he was good before injury. Asamoah no. Schraeder was really good before the teamwide implosion in week 17.

We need healthy, not talent, on the OL

seriously, without being biased, hawley schrader and stone all can be ipgraded at this point..

Maybe they can improve in their individual game, but as of RIGHT NOW, thoes three guys def can be upgraded.

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