Walker: Falcons Take Some Diamonds In The Rough
So now the 2013 National Football League Draft is over. Your Atlanta Falcons made selections and obviously drafted the best players for THEIR needs at the time they were available that fit THEIR philosophy. Thomas Dimitroff and the Atlanta Falcons’ Front Office had a plan, executed the plan, and filled most positions of need for a team that was in the NFC Championship a season ago. Atlanta drafted in their 1st two picks 22nd and 60th, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, immediately addressing the secondary. However, there was still more work to be done for the “Dirty Birds” to fill needs and add depth;
4th Round Selection, 127th Overall, Mallaciah Goodman, Defensive End, Clemson
4th Round Selection, 133rd Overall, Levine Toilolo, Tight End, Stanford
5th Round Selection, 153rd Overall, Stansly Maponga, Defensive End, Texas Christian
7th Round Selection, 243rd Overall, Kemal Ishmael, Safety, Central Florida
7th Round Selection, 244th Overall, Zeke Motta, Safety, Notre Dame
7th Round Selection, 249th Overall, Sean Renfree, Quarterback, Duke
The Falcons addressed their need for pass rush, depth in the secondary, and an additional signal caller. The 6’4, 276 pound Goodman while at Clemson had career totals of 150 tackles of which 21.5 were for loss, 12 sacks, 35 pressures, and eight forced fumbles, four of those forced fumbles occured just this past season which led the Atlantic Coast Conference. Goodman is an athletic defensive end that has proven he can get to the quarterback as demonstrated in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl versus LSU where he had a pair of sacks and looked like the best player on the field. With his physical presence and athleticism it seems his production would have been better, however the Falcons hope that he will be that versatile player they selected and draft experts predict he can be.
Levine Toilolo is 6’8, 260 pounds and was a prime “RedZone” target at tight end for Stanford. Although he only had 50 career receptions, primarily because of the success of starting Tight End Zack Ertz, Toilolo had 10 touchdowns. He led all receivers with a 16.4 yards per catch average in 2012. The Falcons are hoping that Toilolo can follow in the same footsteps as another former PAC-10 now PAC-12 Tight End, Tony Gonzalez, and he is ready and willing to learn from the future Hall of Famer. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter should have a lot of fun going into two tight end sets with this pair.
Stansly Maponga consider himself the best defensive end in this years’ draft. He is undersized at 6’2, 256 pounds for the defensive end position, but he comes in with the toughness and will to specialize in rushing the passer. Hearing him speak and his demeanor reminds me of former Pittsburgh Steeler and current Bengals player James Harrison and if the Falcons can get that kind of production from Maponga then he will be the steal of the draft. He was productive while at TCU, finishing with 113 tackles in which 23 were for loss, 15.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.
Kemal Ishmael, the 5’11, 206 pound safety was voted Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012 season. He totaled 124 tackles, 5 for loss, a sack, and three interceptions this past season. Ishmael is “heady” with sure tackling skills from the Safety position. Zeke Motta is a Safety from Notre Dame. At 6’2, 213 pounds he is also a sure tackler who is durable, starting all 13 games in 2012. After reviewing some tape it is surprising that he is only 213 pounds because he looks like a linebacker because of his tackling ability. Motta being a son of a high school coach gives the Falcons added depth on the roster with intelligence and knowledge of the game. Speaking of intelligence, the last pickup of the day for the Atlanta Falcons, Sean Renfree has already graduated from Duke and pursuing a Masters’ Degree. As far as his football is concerned, the 6’3, 219 pound “signal caller” completed 297 passes for 3,113 yards with a completion percentage of 67, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He will fill a need for a possible backup quarterback position with only Dominique Davis being on the roster behind Matt Ryan.
Overall, the Atlanta Falcons filled quite a few needs in most facets of the team and added some depth. They still need to fill some holes on the offensive and defensive lines. I do not believe this team is finished filling out this roster. There are still some free agents available that can make this team better to go on a long playoff run possibly resulting in a SuperBowl. My draft grade for the Atlanta Falcons is…..Incomplete, because you cannot truly judge a draft class for another three years or so but you can see what philosophy this team is going for; smart, physical, speedy, and high character guys that are versatile.
Walker is a Producer/Atlanta Falcons Blogger for 92.9 The Game and can be followed on Twitter @coachjdub21 or through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com