Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ridiculously Judgmental Statements about the Falcons' Draft

Roddy White - I'm not a fan of this pick for several reasons. First, it's the third straight year that the Falcons have spent a first round pick on a wide receiver. (Remember that Peerless cost a first-rounder.) The Falcons are spending too much of their cap and too many of their Draft picks on receivers, which means that they are forgetting that defense is 60% of football.

It also means that they are continuing to kow-tow to Michael Vick in every way imaginable. Peter King made a comment a few weeks ago that the Falcons are treating Vick like a superstar before he actually becomes one. I assumed at the time that he had some sort of inside information that he couldn't share. Now, the Falcons' pick puts some meat around that theory. Add in the fact that the Mayhem guys were saying that Vick (and his posse) has a reputation around town as a bit of a jerk and you have some serious hubris concerns. I worry that we are heading into the second half of "Scarface," after the "Take it to the Limit" montage of money rolling in and Tony getting married to Elvira and right before Tony starts to do too much blow and becomes paranoid. Hopefully, it won't end with Vick shooting Alge Crumpler because Alge married his sister.

My other worry about the Falcons is the fact that Arthur Blank seems to play a bit too much of a role with the team and a draft pick of a flashy wide receiver over a Shaun Cody or Brodney Pool is the kind of pick that a football novice would make.

The upside of taking Roddy White is this: if White and Jenkins mature over the next 2-3 years, then Vick will have much better targets than he currently has and will be able to mature into a very good passer. It's unfair to grade him as a passer when he's throwing to Peerless Price and Brian Finneran, although one gets the sense that Donovan McNabb or Peyton Manning would make those receivers a lot better than they are. If either White or Jenkins get better, then Peerless can become a complementary receiver, a role that he filled well in Buffalo. (This assumes that his success as a Bill was not solely the result of his desire to get a big contract, a desire that was sated the moment he signed with the Falcons.)

The rest of the Draft - On the other hand, the Falcons spent the rest of the Draft shoring up the defense, so they deserve some credit for paying attention to their biggest area of need. I love the Jonathan Babineaux pick. 25 TFLs speak for themselves. I'm also a fan of players from Iowa because they come out of a program that 1) teaches technique properly and 2) does a great job with strength and conditioning. If Babineaux is healthy, then he'll be a starter sooner rather than later.

I don't know much about Jordan Beck, but he sounds like a very good athlete and he should benefit from instruction by Mora and Donatell. Could he push Demorrio Williams for the WLB spot? The Falcons are accumulating small, fast linebackers, which will put more of an onus on the defensive line to keep guards off of them.

Chauncey Davis intrigues me. He sounds like the typical Florida State defensive end: very fast, but not able to get anything done once engaged with an offensive tackle. Once an OT figures out Davis' game, then he can just ride him out of plays by taking a wide angle. Still, Davis was fairly productive as a senior at FSU and FSU DEs never ring up huge numbers because Mickey Andrews rotates his guys so much. Not a bad 4th round pick at a need position.

Frank Omiyale...???

I like the Michael Boley pick, as well, solely because he was extremely productive in college.

Deandre Cobb will be the player who will surprise Falcons fans the most. He was one of the fastest players in college football over the past two years, as evidenced by the fact that he led the nation in kickoff returns. He'll be the immediate replacement for Allen Rossum. However, I might be too optimistic here, but I can see him ultimately replacing Warrick Dunn as T.J. Duckett's back-up. He was fairly productive as a runner in college. With his speed and small statute, he could do well in a running game that spreads out a defensive front seven. Vick's presence does just that. He forces defensive ends to line up wide and stay in their lanes for fear that Vick will turn the corner. Cobb is the perfect runner to exploit those fissures and if he gets into the secondary, there are precious few players who can catch him.

Darrell Shropshire was also a good gamble in round seven. There aren't many 301-pounders who run a 4.87 at the Combine. He has little or no idea how to play properly (like most players who came out of the South Carolina program during Lou's twilight,) but with a year or two on the practice squad and good instruction, he could be a useful part of the DT rotation. If not, the Falcons didn't invest much into him. Like Beck and Davis, the coaches will be tested by Shropshire's raw potential.

Overall, I liked the Falcons' Draft from the second round onwards. The defense should be deeper and better next year. As for the offense, Michael Vick's development as a passer will determine whether the team can win 11 games again against a much tougher schedule. Right now, I smell 9-7, but I hope I'm wrong about that.

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