The time is upon us Atlanta Falcons Fans. I always address it as the “2nd Christmas” for really all football fans but it is the time of the year where we trust our hometown “Dirty Birds” have made a good list and checked it more than twice coming off an improved yet incomplete 8-8, 2015 campaign. Yes, folks….It is National Football League Draft Week.
On April 28th-30th, live from Chicago, the Falcons hope to select players that will help this team soar to the next level. Last year was a bit of “fools gold”, where the expectations were an unknown going into the season, then catapulted upward after a 5-0 start, only to see it crash and burn by winning 3 out of the last 11. Head Coach Dan Quinn brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to a club that needed a new message but his technical football was in need of personnel to carry out its objectives.READ MORE: Not Running: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Won't Seek Reelection
Quinn’s mandate team wise was becoming “fast and physical”, particularly on defense where he simplified the game plan and wanted players to run and hit. This was in stark contrast to the previous regime where former Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan has a much more complex scheme. Atlanta saw much more of an improvement on defense, moving from last, to the middle of the pack.
The offense saw a sharp difference as well, going to a much more balanced attack. Quarterback Matt Ryan was still at the helm for the Falcons but Runningback Devonta Freeman came into his own in his 2nd season, taking full advantage of the opportunity even after not being projected to start at the end of training camp. The offensive unit went through ebbs and flows throughout the entire season, starting out like “gangbusters” in the beginning only to display confusion, discontinuity and inferior personnel in the latter part of the season.READ MORE: Savannah Child Molester Caught Distributing Child Pornography While Serving Prison Sentence
With all of this being said, the Atlanta Falcons addressed a number of personnel needs in free agency by fortifying the anchor in its obtaining Center Alex Mack from Cleveland. Also on the offensive side of the ball the Falcons picked up Wide Receiver Mohamed Sanu from Cincinnati to start opposite Julio Jones. On defense, the ball club re-signed Defensive End Adrian Clayborn and Linebacker Phillip Wheeler but went out and got Defensive End/Tackle Derrick Shelby and Linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
From the pundits and fans alike, it is very obvious what the team wants to be on both sides of the ball; a very balanced and versatile attack on offense that can score in every way and control the clock from Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan. While on defense Dan Quinn and Defensive Coordinator Richard Smith want a fast and attacking style front seven that can get ball carriers on the ground, man coverage corners, with “ball hawking” safeties that run and hit. The objective is to be sound across the board.
With the focus now being on the draft, there is a lot of speculation as to who the Falcons will select to carry out the plan schematically. With only five draft picks, starting with #17, it is not much room for creativity or versatility upon who they draft. The consensus is that a run and hit Linebacker that can cover is badly needed, another edge rusher who could complement last years’ pick Vic Beasley, and a Tight End that is a good end line blocker along with being a pass catcher would round out what the Falcons are seeking to be. We will see what happens starting Thursday!!MORE NEWS: Pedestrian Killed By Drunk Driver In Pinellas Park, BAC Was Over .15
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.