7-Round Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft 1.0: The Way-Too Early Edition

dantefowlerRound 1 – 8th overall

The Pick: DE/OLB Dante Fowler Jr, Florida

The Skinny: This stud is a three-down linebacker-defensive end hybrid, who can stop the run AND rush the passer. The Falcons have been embarassed by their lack of defensive attitude and prowess, and they get both with this all-around talent. He is a scheme fit for any scheme because of his size and athleticism.

Round 2 – 40th overall

The Pick: ILB/OLB Bernardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

The Skinny: This talented linebacker has the size, 6 foot 4 in 243lbs, and speed, 4.6 40yd dash, to be a long time starter in this league. With an upside as high as Navarro Bowman, and very little to be concerned about, this would essentially add a starter to this maligned defense and build a long-term solution to the woes that this front seven of the Falcons has suffered from for several seasons now.

Round 3 – 72nd overall

The Pick: TE Nick O’Leary, Florida State

Nick+O+Leary+Oklahoma+State+v+Florida+State+EJSS1zHF4JNl

The Skinny: Strictly a value pick right here. I would argue that the players available on defense and the offensive line at this point in the draft would not be starters in year 1. I do however think that O’Leary could be an instant contributor to an already explosive offense and be an intriguing red zone aid, as the Falcons have not been able to fix their woes. I also believe that interior offensive line man, which is what the Falcons need can be taken later in the draft, no need to reach.

Round 4 – 104th overall

The Pick: OT Jake Fisher, Oregon

The Skinny: This would be a pick in which the Falcons could add quality depth and give a young guy to this group of veterans that can be developed over the next year or so into a solid starter at right tackle. Has a good frame and held together the offensive line for Oregon during their Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff run.

Round 5 – 136th overall

The Pick: OLB Jordan Hicks, Texas

The Skinny: If you haven’t noticed the trend, it’s defense. The Falcons need potential starters and quality depth to improve this unit. Hicks is an agile player who could be a part of the youth movement on this defense that helps build a new identity.

davidandrewsRound 6 – 168th overall

The Pick: OC David Andrews, Georgia

The Skinny: With a nickname “Boss” how could you not take the undersized center in the sixth round. He was a three year starter at UGA, and a natural leader. He will have a chip on his shoulder and he has very high football IQ, which always helps the overall unit. And with all of the struggles on the offensive line, any type of leadership and attitude potential is a plus at this spot in the draft.

Round 7 – 200th overall

The Pick: CB Damian Swann, Georgia

The Skinny: Yes, I know i doubled down on UGA players, but this is a value pick for Atlanta. Swann is a three and a half year starter who had a great sophomore year, a below average junior year, and a stellar senior season. This is an asset because it shows how he responds to adversity. Both defensive coordinators that Swann learned under are both aligned with NFL principles and help his understanding of different schemes. He is a versatile defensive back that played corner and safety in college. He can help on special teams and add depth and versatility to a thin secondary.

 

2014 Two Round Mock Draft

First things first, we created this mock draft as if we were the GM for each individual team. We had 4-5 possible picks for each slot and had a “war room” discussion as each pick was made. We wanted to make a realistic scenario for each team’s needs and account for trades that would intrigue both sides of the deal. We also tried to use conventional knowledge of draft history for each franchise and their front office. So now, let’s get to the draft:

Round One

1. Houston Texans- DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Jadeveon-Clowney-Hit-610x808

The Skinny: This is the best player in the draft and the only one truly deserving of the number one selection.

2. St. Louis Rams- OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

The Skinny: The Rams need to build the offensive line as a strength so that Sam Bradford can finally progress into the confident franchise QB.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

The Skinny: The Jags have needed a quarterback ever since…ever? They have the ability to finally end the viscous circle by taking the franchise QB they have been coveting, and they have the opening via the Blaine Gabbert-to-San Fran trade that had all of us scratching our heads. Never the less, they have a much more favorable position moving forward.

4. Cleveland Browns- QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

The Skinny: The biggest punching bag of the draft so far is still a stud QB who is a future franchise guy. The Browns could take a receiver here, but there are several first round caliber wide outs available…yes even with passing up Sammy Watkins, Josh Gordon is the number 1 they need a number 2.

5. Oakland Raiders- WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

sammy watkins

The Skinny: Speaking of Watkins, He is simply too talented to be passed up by the Raiders, who are hurting for a playmaker on offense. They signed Matt Schaub, so the immediate need for a QB can be set aside for a later round, meanwhile adding the best offensive player in the draft.

6. Atlanta Falcons- OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

The Skinny: The bottom line is, PRIORITY NUMBER 1 is keeping Matt Ryan protected, and especially with Clowney off the board, the greatest need is an offensive tackle immediately on the right side and eventually on the left and Matthews fits the bill.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

The Skinny: The Bucs are looking for impact offensive playmakers and why not get your franchise QB in the process? Manziel is the best QB and offensive talent available at this point.

8. Minnesota Vikings- QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

The Skinny: The Vikings have a history of reaching for QBs in the first round (Christian Ponder) and this season would have been different had one of the top 3 dropped to this position. They like Carr and they may get impatient with how the other quarterbacks are flying off the board.

9. Buffalo Bills- DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

The Skinny: There was talk the Bills could have traded up for Clowney or Mack, but we believe the way this crazy draft will go, that they can stay put and get their local stud who will be the best player available when they make this selection.

10. Detroit Lions- OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

taylor lewan

The Skinny: There is a high chance of the Lions taking a safety here, but Lewan is simply too tempting to pass up. he is the most NFL ready offensive tackle and he can “stay home” by getting drafted by the Lions. Stafford can make plays, but he needs to stay upright so that he can use all of those offensive playmakers and a good safety will be available in round 2.

11. Tennessee Titans- WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

The Skinny: The Titans need offensive playmakers, and even though they want a new quarterback, there is not one left worthy of this pick. We say they should get a weapon either for Jake Locker or for their future QB.

12. New York Giants- TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

The Skinny: Eli Manning simply needs better targets, especially since they just lost Hakeem Nicks.

13. St. Louis Rams- OT/G Zack Martin, Notre Dame

The Skinny: This is the second first round pick by the Rams, and their offensive line is a major priority, so we say they double down on the o-line and grab Martin to initially play guard.

14. Chicago Bears- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

clinton-dix-breakup-bcs-game-bennettjpg-51af885307041ac1

The Skinny: The bears are looking for youth in their secondary to renew the energy and they are in need of a safety, so they will take care of both right here.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers- CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

The Skinny: The Steelers need to get younger on defense and this is a classic value pick by them.

16. Dallas Cowboys- DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

The Skinny: They could have taken Anthony Barr right here to replace Demarcus Ware, but as we discussed it, they really should build from the inside out.

17. Baltimore Ravens- ILB C.J. Mosely, Alabama

The Skinny: The Ravens have been looking for a stud in the middle of the defense for the past two seasons and to put it simply, Mosely is the only inside linebacker worth a first round selection.

18. New York Jets- WR Marqise Lee, Southern California

The best receiver left on the board is a must for the Jets who need to help out whoever their quarterback will be.

Trade!!!!!

19. Atlanta Falcons- OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA* Trade From Miami

Anthony-Barr-Article

The Skinny: The Falcons have been in the news for being willing to trade up, but it won’t be for Clowney since he will be gone first overall. This trade stems from the Dolphins not having the coveted offensive tackle available here. The terms of the trade are as follows: Falcons receive 19th overall pick, and Miami receives 2015 1st round selection, 2014 2nd, 4th, and 6th round selections.

20. Arizona Cardinals- S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

The Skinny: The Cardinals need a safety to play opposite of Tyrann Matheiu, and complete their strong defense with another playmaker. There are no quarterbacks worth taking at this position.

21. Green Bay Packers- WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

The Skinny: They can take this luxury pick and also fill a need. They will replace the loss of James Jones right here.

22. Philadelphia Eagles- CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

The Skinny: The Eagles need to lock down another corner to put opposite of Brandon Boykin and improve the defense by also taking the best player available.

23. Kansas City Chiefs- WR Odell Beckham Jr, LSU

The Skinny: The Chiefs need to get more explosive on offense and Beckham could be their guy.

24. Cincinnati Bengals- WR Brandin Cooks 

BrandinCooks

The Skinny: The Bengals may be looking to replace Andy Dalton at quarterback, but they need to balance the offense with a receiver to stretch the field and take pressure off of A.J. Green.

25. San Diego Chargers- NT/DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

The Skinny: The Chargers need a disruptor in the middle so that the linebackers can free flow to make plays in the running game.

26. Cleveland Browns- CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

The Skinny: With their second pick in the first round we say that the Browns address the need at their cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden.

27. New Orleans Saints- CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

The Skinny: The signing of Champ Bailey is just a short term help on the defense, but Roby has the talent to come in and compete and learn from Bailey.

28. Carolina Panthers- WR Donte Moncreif, Ole Miss

donte moncrief

The Skinny: THEY NEED A RECEIVER!!!!!! BADLY!!!!!! That is all.

29. New England Patriots- DE/OLB Dee Ford, Auburn

The Skinny: The Patriots love versatile playmakers and Ford fits the bill. He can flourish in this organization.

30. San Francisco 49ers- CB Jason Verrett, TCU

The Skinny: The Niners are becoming one of the best overall teams in recent history, and their strong draft history certainly is the reason why. They take a need and one of the best players available in Verrett.

31. Denver Broncos- OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA

The Skinny: They really filled a lot of needs in free agency, so the biggest need remaining is a stud plug and play guard who will keep Peyton Manning upright and happy.

32. Seattle Seahawks- OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

The Skinny: The offensive line was not up to par last season even though the Seahawks won the superbowl. They have a chance to take an offensive tackle that has a ton of upside and potential.

 

Round Two

33. Houston Texans- OT Morgan Moses, Virginia

morgan moses

34. Washington Redskins- OG Joel Bitonio, Nevada

35. Cleveland Browns- OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

36. Oakland Raiders- DE Kony Ealy, Missouri

37. Miami Dolphins- OT JuWan James, Tennessee* Trade From Atlanta

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

Jace-Amaro1

39. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Kyle Van Noy, BYU

40. Minnesota Vikings- DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaouchu, Georgia Tech

41. Buffalo Bills- TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

42. Tennessee Titans- QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh

43.  New York Giants- DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame

44. St. Louis Rams- WR Allen Robinson, Penn State

45. Detroit Lions- CB/S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

lamarcus joyner1

46. Pittsburgh Steelers- DT RaShede Hageman, Minnesota

47. Dallas Cowboys- DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

48. Baltimore Ravens- OT Cameron Flemming, Stanford

49. New York Jets- TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame

50. Miami Dolphins- OG/T Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State

51. Chicago Bears- CB Phillip Gaines, Rice

Trade!!!!! The Buccaneers have traded QB Mike Glennon to the Arizona Cardinals for the 52nd overall pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New England Patriots

52. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson

53. Green Bay Packers- S Jimmy Ward, Northern Illinios

54. Philadelphia Eagles- WR DaVonte Adams, Fresno State

55. Cincinnati Bengals- QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinios

56. San Francisco 49ers- WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

Jordan+Matthews+Mississippi+v+Vanderbilt+gjNKOGmyb6ll

57. San Diego Chargers- WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

58. New Orleans Saints- OT Billy Turner, North Dakota State

59. Indianapolis Colts- S Deone Bucannon, Washington State

60. Carolina Panthers- WR Cody Latimer, Indiana

61. San Francisco 49ers- DE Marcus Smith, Louisville

62. New England Patriots- RB Tre Mason, Auburn

TreMason

63. Denver Broncos- ILB Chris Boreland, Wisconsin

64. Seattle Seahawks- OG David Yankey, Stanford

What are the Falcons planning to do at safety?

The Falcons have answered some questions this off-season thus far. They have signed NT Paul Soliai and DE Tyson Jackson to bolster the run defense and OG Jon Asamoah to start at right guard. They also re-signed DT Corey Peters, DT/DE Johnathan Babineaux, C Joe Hawley, and RT Mike Johnson. The recent addition of CB/KR Javier Arenas shows that the Falcons are still shopping, per recent reports that they are still interested in KR Devin Hester to provide a spark in the return game. One question still remains, what are the Falcons doing at safety? With the top targets coming off of the free agency board all within 24 hrs of the league year beginning, what options does that leave the Atlanta Falcons?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

The obvious choice would be Chris Clemons, formerly of the Dolphins. He has the physical tools to  immediately help the Falcons in both run and pass situations. He has his flaws, but the value in that is his price has dropped since we are more than a week after the start of free agency. He could help bridge the gap for one of this May’s draft picks, to allow time to develop.

major wright

Another good option would be Major Wright, formerly of the Bears. This guy has the starting experience on a good defense and will be even cheaper than Clemons due to less name recognition. He quietly keeps the defense from breaking and will help bring along a young rookie that would be drafted this May.

james ihedigbo

There had been talk early this off-season that William Moore could return to his natural position at free safety and the Falcons could sign a strong safety like James Ihedigbo, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. He has the big play ability close to the line of scrimmage. He could bring a mean streak and aggressiveness to this defense that could change its identity.

The NFL Draft:

clinton-dix-breakup-bcs-game-bennettjpg-51af885307041ac1

The Falcons could trade back from their 6th overall pick and draft either Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, or Calvin Pryor from Louisville. Though this option seems less likely due to their huge need on the offensive line and need for elite pass rusher.

deon bucannon

The Falcons could also sit tight at 37 overall and take Deon Bucannon from Washington State, this is still less likely due to the prior response of greater needs on the team.

terrence brooks

Another option is in the third round at 68 overall. This is the last position where they would likely draft a starter. Florida State’s Terrence Brooks or USC’s Dion Bailey would both be good fits right here, a sleeper would be if Lamarcus Joyner slips to this pick and the Falcons want him at safety instead of corner.

120113 tech premium JC15

The last option in the draft would be to get a back up safety to groom along as the future starter behind a veteran that I mentioned before in free agency. This option could be a local player such as Jemea Thomas out of Georgia Tech or maybe Isaiah Lewis from Michigan State. Both of these players have potential, but may not be ready for a starting NFL role just yet.

The Prediction:

The Falcons will add a veteran safety in free agency and draft a back up/future starter somewhere in rounds 3-5.

Atlanta Falcons Offseason Outlook plus 2014 7-round Mock Draft

First things first, a 4-12 season shows that the Falcons have plenty of holes to fill. They started by maximizing their cap room by “trimming the fat” by cutting cost-efficient salaries and older players who don’t fit the future vision.  The following players have been cut:

CB Asante Samuel, Cap Savings $5.25 million Image

This move should speak for itself. Samuel is still a good player but not worth the $5+ million he’ll count against the cap, seeing as how he has already been replaced by two rookies this season.

LB Stephen Nicholas, Cap Savings $2 million 2014 and $5.5 million in 2015

Nicholas is the highest paid linebacker on the team with the least amount of production, this is a no-brainer.

G Garrett Reynolds, Cap Savings $1.329 million

An under-performing offensive line needs a complete makeover, enough said.

Others that could be cut:

DE Osi Umenyiora, Cap Savings $3.5 million 

I know he just came in this year, but this is a position in need of being upgraded and the birds will need every dollar they can to make the necessary improvements.

S Thomas DeCoud, Cap Savings $3 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015, and  $4.2 million in 2016Image

This move will save a small fortune over the next 3 seasons. It is affordable money if DeCoud’s production was that of his Pro Bowl 2012 season, but the Falcons have little time to wait and see if that returns. They need to use every dollar to see if they can capitalize on a veteran free-agent safety.

RB Jason Snelling, Cap Savings $1.375 million

With three running backs on the roster making more than 1 million against the cap this season, including incumbent starter Steven Jackson and flex back/return man Jaquizz Rodgers, unfortunately Snelling is the odd-man out. Antoine Smith has stepped up as well, making this move less risky.

Free agency is also where the Falcons could make some noise and turn around their fortunes. So here are a few of the options they could pursue:

DE Michael Johnson, Cincinnati

Michael Johnson 

He is a product of the home-town Georgia Tech and could be affordable as a run stuffing defensive end as well as a potential double-digit sack stud. His production in sacks last year was down, hopefully helping the Falcons land him.

FS Jarius Byrd, Buffalo Bills

The Bills now seem as though they will not use the franchise-tag on Byrd. He might be out of the Falcons price-range, but he is the best free safety on the market. If there is a bidding war for his services, it may leave the Falcons looking for another safety in free agency.

FS Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts

antoine bethea

He is a more realistic candidate to be signed by the Falcons, seeing as how he is still an upgrade on DeCoud but he is much more affordable.

OLB Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins

Of course this is assuming that he even hits the market. He is a candidate for a franchise-tag as well as maybe even an extension. He would be expensive, but it all depends on where the Falcons want to spend their focus within free agency and the draft.

C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns

He would instantly change the whole dynamic of the offensive line. Mack has already made it clear that there is a slim to none chance that he returns to the struggling Browns. The Falcons may be in the market to really upgrade this position  in particular through free agency.

OT Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs

branden albert

The connection of new Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli being the former General Manager of the Chiefs helps this possibility. He is a former left tackle, right tackle, and also a guard in college. He can bring versatility to the offensive line that it has not seen in a while.

OT Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens

He does not have any connection, but seems like a good fit at right tackle and would help immensely.

G Willie Colon, New York Jets

He was pursued by new Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice while he was in Chicago, and he fits his scheme. He would also be a cheap addition who could start at right guard.

Others who didn’t make the cut: DE Greg Hardy-will probably be franchised, DE Michael Bennett-too expensive, OT Eugene Monroe-too big of a market, FS Louis Delmas-too many health concerns

And Now for the 7-round Falcons Mock Draft

Round 1 6th overall- DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo 

Khalil-Mack

This is assuming the highly coveted Jadeveon Clowney is off the board, and the Falcons would take the best player available which would be the versatile Mack. He has the NFL measurables and he is a clutch player, bringing in his best performances against top competition.

Round 2 37th overall- OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

He is a potential left tackle, but could play on the right side immediately as he develops.

Round 3 68th overall- DT Dominique Easley, Florida

He is a top 15 talent that slipped due to his torn ACL. He will be Babineaux’s replacement on the defensive line.

Round 4 99th overall- TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia

arthur lynch

He provides the ability to help in the passing game and as a blocker. Lynch will be a scheme-friendly pick for the Falcons, and should generate some home-town buzz.

Round 5 135th overall- S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

He is a tweener at sefety/corner, but his leadership and instincts make him valuable at the next level. He could play behind whoever the Falcons sign in free agency and make his living on special teams for the time being.

Round 5 compensatory- WR/RS Dri Archer, Kent State

He could be the Falcons 4th receiver, and speed demon return specialist. Sometimes it makes sense to take a flier on a guy who could make you look smart, he has gamebreaker potential.

Round 6 166th overall- G Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

The need for help along the line has been noted and here is just another body to use for competition in camp.

Round 7 197th overall- WR L’Damian Washington, Missouri

ldamian washington

If he is still here at this pick, the Falcons should jump all over it. He is a big-body receiver who can make plays in the red zone to help replace Tony Gonzalez.

Round 7 compensatory- CB Ross Cockrell, Duke

Talented corner who is underrated for his smooth transitions in coverage. He will help special teams and be a 4th corner.

Round 7 compensatory- QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

connor shaw

The Falcons do not seem to be high on Dominique Davis, and that’s why they brought in Sean Renfree in the draft last year. They want to create competition behind Ryan. Shaw would provide that and he is originally from Flowery Branch, where the Falcons practice facility is, thus creating local buzz. He is a proven winner, and has great running ability which is also valuable as a backup in the NFL.

Round 7 compensatory- C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

This would be adding another guy to the mix in camp to push Peter Konz.

NFL Previw and Predictions

The NFL season is finally here and officially started with the Kickoff Special last night where the Denver Broncos took care of the Baltimore Ravens 49-27.  The main star of that one being a star of old, Peyton Manning throwing for 450+ yards and 7 TDs, showing everyone he has a lot longer left in the league and lot left in him.  Last night was a strong indication that the Broncos are for real this year but it still is only one game and there is a lot of football to be played.

This new season brings about hope for, well most every team, and just a new football season brings joy to everyone no matter how bad their team is.  There will be really good teams, really bad teams, frustratingly average teams and always a surprise team or two.  So what teams will win their division and who will go the playoffs and win the Super Bowl you might be asking?  Well your in luck because I’m going to tell you how it will all go down.

Division Champions

AFC East-New England Patriots

Tom Brady still there and the mastermind Bill Belichick still running things makes this an easy pick for the Patriots to retain their AFC East division crown.  There will be too much offense even without the weapons for the other teams in the division to matchup.  Their defense will be the unsung hero of the season, and their continued dominance of offense will be too much for division foes.

AFC North-Cincinnati Bengals

I am liking what Cincy has got going on.  They will have a formidable offense led by Dalton and A.J. Green and their defense is probably their strongest point actually.  Led by their star DT Geno Atkins and star cornerback Leon Hall, the Bengals defense will look to put the clamps on every one they play.  Matching up with their division opponents is very favorable considering it’s against all teams that aren’t known for their offense.  Cincy will edge out the Ravens and claim the division crown.

AFC South-Houston Texans

Texans are the most balanced team in the division, and they certainly have the best defense.  As long as Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster can stay healthy, they will be able to take their division.  They will receive stiff competition from the Colts but it won’t be enough.  They will use their balanced offensive attack and their stingy defense to overmatch their opponents.  They will split with the Colts in the season but that won’t hurt them in winning the division.

AFC West-Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning will look to bring the Super Bowl Trophy back to the Mile High City Picture from sports-lite.com
Peyton Manning will look to bring the Super Bowl Trophy back to the Mile High City
Picture from sports-lite.com

As we saw last night, they are truly going to be a powerhouse this year.  Peyton looked better than he ever has, gasp!, and there are so many weapons for Peyton to throw too.  I mean he threw 3 of his TD passes to TE Julius Thomas and WR Andre Caldwell.  He didn’t even hit Welker, D. Thomas, or Decker for one until he finally found Welker for his 4th TD pass of the night.  Point being, they are loaded and their offense will be more than good enough to cover up for some holes on defense.  They will be way too much to handle for any of their division opponents.

NFC East-Dallas Cowboys

A surprise pick I would say, but something is telling me to not go with the obvious RGIII led Redskins.  I think Romo has been playing his best lately in his career and it will continue this season.  Only this time he will get some help from his defense.  The Cowboys will look to generate a lot of offense and hope to get a lot of it from their running back Demarco Murray, as long as he can stay healthy.  This division will be highly contested but the Cowboys will edge the Redskins out.

NFC North-Green Bay Packers

This will be another shootout of a division.  The Packers have to get better on defense and Clay Matthews will see to it that that does happen.  QB Aaron Rodgers will see to it that the offense doesn’t slow down one bit and look to continue his dominance in the league.  They will have to beat out other offensive power teams in their division but the Packers are the best overall team and take the division again this year.

NFC South-Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan will look to guide the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Picture from www.tumblr.com
Matt Ryan will look to guide the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
Picture from http://www.tumblr.com

Atlanta is the only sure thing in this division.  Although their offensive line looked soft in the preseason, they should be just fine when the real games get kicked off.  They have too many offensive weapons to not win the division and I think that their defense is an underrated one.  Their offense will carry them to the postseason though and the question will be if their defense can help them out enough in the postseason.  Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Tony Gonzalez.  That’s all you need to know to tell you whose going to win the division.

NFC West-San Francisco 49ers

This will be a tough, tough division for any of the teams to win a lot of games within.  The 49ers though have the best offense and best defense in their division, just by a small margin though over the Seahawks.  Kaepernick will be a stud again for them and he’ll get a full season, just think of the numbers he could put up and the excitement he can create.  Their defense will again be stoutly led by future Hall of Famer Patrick Willis.  They will survive their tough division and schedule but benefit from it mightily down the road.

Wild Card

AFC-Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts

Ravens will have enough offense and defense to propel them, their weaker division will help them too.  Flacco will once again make the playoffs and who knows once you get in, anything can happen.  The Colts will be led by their strong QB play of Andrew Luck and a manageable division schedule will benefit the Colts.  They will be improved on defense as well which will help them.

NFC-Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman will look to erase the critics and prove his worth as a franchise QB. Picture from borntocompete.com
Josh Freeman will look to erase the critics and prove his worth as a franchise QB.
Picture from borntocompete.com

RG III will not be denied a trip to the playoffs, they will fall short of the division to the Cowboys but this team will be a dangerous one.  Their strong defense led by London Fletcher will keep them in games and their explosive play from RGIII will propel their offense.  The Bucs are a sneaky, sleeper pick.  No one is giving them much respect but with their offseason additions and their nice rebound year last year, I just think they will do enough to get there.  Freeman will be much better resulting in their offense being dangerous and their defense will be better to help them edge into the playoffs.

AFC Champion-Denver Broncos

The Broncos will lock up home field advantage again this year and use that to their advantage and not let it go to waste again.  They are the most explosive AFC team and they will have one of the better defenses too.  It won’t be as good as Houston’s defense, but it will be good enough to compliment their offense.  Peyton will have record breaking numbers and look to get his second Super Bowl ring and they just might do it.

NFC Champion-San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are no doubt the most balanced and strongest NFC team.  They can run, throw, play defense with all the same effectiveness.  They will be too much for anyone that opposes them, but it will not be an easy road.  Kaepernick will get them to the Super Bowl for the second straight season and would look like it could be their year.

Super Bowl Champion-Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning celebrating what he hopes to be another Super Bowl in his future. Picture from www.sportsmole.co.uk
Peyton Manning celebrating what he hopes to be another Super Bowl in his future.
Picture from http://www.sportsmole.co.uk

I have the Broncos beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl.  I have to go with my early, early pick of the Broncos being the best team.  Peyton and his endless list of weapons will be too much for any opponent.  Kaepernick and the 49ers fall short yet again, but they’ve got a lot of time ahead of them.  The 49ers defense is better but Peyton Manning is well Peyton Manning.  Peyton will get Super Bowl number two and not let his younger brother out do him.  Wouldn’t that be nice, to see Peyton light it up this year and get a second and much deserving Super Bowl ring this late in his career, post neck injury.  After the game John Elway will proclaim to everyone, “This one’s for Peyton.”

So there you have it, the NFL predictions in it’s entirety.  It should be another great season and I am glad it is already here.  I’m ready to kick back and take it all in.  Let us know what you think about the season right here and how you see it all playing out.  I wish your team well!

Fighting For a Spot

donald-russell

Donald Russell, former Georgia State running back, is fighting for a roster spot on the Atlanta Falcons.

The former Panther stud back is now playing for the home town NFL franchise. He is listed as the 6th running back on the Falcons roster behind tailbacks Steven Jackson, JaQuizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, and fullback Bradie Ewing. The Falcons recently made the move to sign Steven Jackson, and it looks like the only potential playing time at tailback will come between him and JaQuizz Rogers as well as Jason Snelling, the others will be splitting time on special teams.

This would be big for Georgia State if Russell could make the hometown team, because there has been recent success for GSU players making NFL rosters. Russell has the type of potential to create a very recognizable brand for Panther football. The program is making the jump this year into Division 1 and entering the Sun Belt Conference, with Georgia Southern soon to follow.

Georgia State Panther to the Washington Redskins

Emmanuel Ogbuehi, a tight end for the Georgia State Panthers, has been signed as an undrafted free agent to a rookie deal with the Washington Redskins.

emmanuel ogbuehi gsu     Washington-Redskins

He has been a three-year letter winner and has been on the team since its inauguration a few years ago. He is a fifth year senior who has made the most of his opportunity and now has his chance to make the Redskins team who is always looking for weapons for Robert Griffin III to use. He totaled 25 catches for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns bringing his career numbers to 47 catches for 581 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is listed at 6 foot 3, but stands much taller in person, and provides a big target for his future team in the NFL. At Georgia State’s pro day, Ogbuehi ran an impressive 4.6 40 yard dash, had  a vertical of 35 1/2 inches, and he also threw the 225lbs up for 31 reps. These are all great numbers for sure, especially coming from a program that has just “cut its teeth” in football. Emmanuel Ogbuehi is very humbled by this experience and he said “The Redskins were calling during the 6th and 7th rounds telling me they wanted me,” he then went on to tell me that the Redskins project him as a tight end/fullback/slot receiver which might help him make the squad at any of those positions. He can also find his way onto the team through special teams where he could be on coverage and return teams.

Emmanuel Ogbuehi1

Ogbuehi also comes from an athletic family, as his father played soccer for Nigeria at the national level. His ability is there and he looks like a strong candidate to make the team, but all we can say, Emmanuel, is Good Luck!!! Oh yeah and We are Georgia State!!!!

 

Written by Daniel, hammockd29

Falcons Draft Recap

Round 1 – Pick 22(From Rams): Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

Desmond Trufant

Trufant, we now know, was the player that Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons coveted in the first round. They traded up to get him  and he was worth the pick. He is an automatic plug in starter at the corner spot opposite of Asante Samuel. He was a three-year starter at Washington and has the NFL pedigree, as both of his brothers play in the NFL. There are so many positives for this selection because Trufant is a complete player, and he has good size for a corner at nearly 6 foot and 194 pounds, he can match up with anyone.

Round 2 – Pick 60: Robert Alford, CB SE Louisiana

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl

This pick was an excellent value, even though it puzzled some people that the Falcons did not draft a defensive lineman with this pick. He is a freakish athlete who can play nickel corner and be a dynamic kick/punt returner. He had a great showing at the Senior Bowl which helped his draft stock.

Round 4 – Pick 127: Malliciah Goodman, DE Clemson

malliciah goodman

Here is where the Falcons first started addressing their defensive line. Goodman had an above average career at Clemson, but he never quite put a whole season together. There is no question that he has the tools to be a star at the NFL level, b ut he is also a developmental player who will benefit from learning from Osi Umenyiora and Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan. This is why he dropped to the 4th round.

Round 4 – Pick 133: Levine Toilolo, TE Stanford

levine toilolo

This was an excellent pick by the Falcons. The scouting department has served the fans well with this one. Toilolo comes from a freakishly athletic family in which his dad, brothers, and uncles have all played major sports at the collegiate and professional levels. He is 6 foot 8 and 265 pounds, and he was overshadowed at Stanford by 2nd round pick TE Zach Ertz and also last year’s 3rd round pick TE Colby Fleener of the Colts. He has had a good career for having to share the ball, which is what he will do this season behind Tony Gonzalez. He also gets to learn behind Gonzalez, potentially the greatest tight end of all time.

Round 5 – Pick 153(From Bears): Stansly Maponga, DE TCU

stansly maponga

Maponga is a guy who was targeted early but slipped to the 5th round where the Falcons actually traded up with the Bears to snag him. He possesses rare pass rush abilities, but like Goodman he is a project at defensive end. He will also be in the mix on this defensive line for the Falcons.

Round 7 – Pick 243: Kemal Ishmael, S UCF

kemal ishmael

This was a pick to support the secondary depth, as well as to provide special teams help. Ishmael could be a nickel corner and a backup free safety. He had a solid career overall and might make the team.

Round 7 – Pick 244: Zeke Motta, S Notre Dame

Notre Dame Miami Football

I know what you’re thinking, why draft ANY defensive player from Notre Dame. This however was strictly for the special teams ferocity that Motta plays with; he was a playmaker but slow for a secondary player. He will be a backup at strong safety and play on all of the coverage units for the Falcons.

Round 7 – Pick 249: Sean Renfree, QB Duke

sean renfree

This was a luxury pick, and the Falcons got a great value here. Renfree is going to be able to come in to Atlanta and compete with Dominique Davis for the backup QB role behind Matt Ryan. This is due to the fact that Luke McCown left in the offseason. Renfree has been Duke’s best quarterback in school history and was coached by David Cutcliffe, who also coached both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. Renfree has also helped with the “Manning Camp” the past few years which helps younger quarterbacks learn the position.

Check out how the Falcons first and second round picks first met!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fozy1K-0LXM

 

Written by Daniel, hammockd29

NFL Draft: Winners and Losers

The NFL Draft has come to a close and when that happens, all the experts and analysts start to give their draft day winners and losers.  Well I am here to give out my biggest winners and losers of the draft.

Winners:

RamsSt. Louis Rams- The Rams were probably a close second for the biggest winner in the NFL Draft.  Scary for the NFC West too because last season the Rams were 4-1-1 in the division, so do not sleep on these guys next season.  They are a big winner because they addressed several needs and did so with quality players.  WR Tavon Austin was definitely the biggest splash they made, trading up to nab him before he possibly fell to the Jets.  He is the most explosive player in the draft and we will see that early on.  LB Alec Ogletree was their other first round pick and although he has issues off the field, the Rams feel they can get that straightened out and that he’ll be fine once he’s apart of their organization.  WR Stedman Bailey and OL Barrett Jones are two later picks that were also wonderful.  Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin played together in college and know how to compliment each other on the field.  Barrett Jones knows how to play all lineman positions and oh yeah, he was a 3 time National Champion for the Alabama Crimson Tide, winning.  All those guys say big winner for the Rams in my book.

San Francisco 49ers- The 49ers are one of the best teams going into next season and they were the biggest winner in the NFL Draft, that’s not good for everyone else.  They started out by trading up in the draft to grab FS Eric Reid to fill the void left by former FS Dashon Goldson.  Reid played in the tough SEC and knows how to tackle, cover receivers and make plays on the ballsan-francisco-49ers-logo.  He’s a great addition to their secondary.  The 49ers would then use their 2nd round pick on DE Cornellious “Tank” Carradine, a guy that has first round talent but because of health concerns fell to the second round.  He can instantly come off the edge for San Fran and make an impact on defense.  WR Quinton Patton was drafted in the 3rd round and some scouts gave him a first round grade because he has some of the best hands in the draft and knows how to go up and get the ball.  He will certainly come in and help the offense right away.  Their luxury pick, RB Marcus Lattimore is certainly a first round talent himself that fell because of health concerns.  If he can stay healthy, he’s got a chance to be great.  The 49ers drafted A+ value with pick after pick and could very well be the best team going into the next season after this draft.

Losers:

cowboysDallas Cowboys- Big D, probably the grade I would give them, they started off their draft with one big head scratching.  They first chose C Travis Frederick with their 1st round pick.  This guy may have good talent and be a starter, but at this pick, there was way more value out there than him.  They could have waited on this guy until probably like the second or third round.  Their next pick was TE Gavin Escobar, a good talent and has potential but if they wanted a TE they could have landed Tyler Eifert in the 1st round if they didn’t trade back and then they still could have gotten Frederick later.  Instead, they pounced on Frederick and had to settle on Escobar instead of getting a dominant force like Eifert or even TE Zach Ertz.  After that it got a little better, they picked up Terrance Williams who is a good receiver but it wasn’t really a need for the Cowboys, they should have gone defensive front 7 at this point.  Their one true bright spot and true need met was their second 3rd round pick in safety J.J. Wilcox.  Wilcox can come in immediately and challenge for a starting spot.  He was one of the better safeties in the draft and certainly showed everyone that at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.  The value and need was perfect at this point for the Cowboys and was truly their one big all around hit in the draft, everything else, they should’ve not listened to Jerry Jones.

Cleveland Browns- My biggest loser of the NFL Draft, congratulations to the Cleveland Browns, you had a high pick because you were bad and you did not help yourself that much at all.  For starters, they only had 5 picks and then they would precede to do very little with them.  Their first pick was DE Barkevious Mingo and although Mingo projects to be a really good pass rusher on the outside anCleveland_Brownsd an all around defensive player, picking him at 6 overall was a bit of a reach in my opinion.  they have a need at corner and could have drafted the best corner in Dee Milliner at that point but instead went with Mingo.  Another thing that makes me iffy on Mingo, name me the last LSU pass rusher to turn out to be anything good in the NFL?  Yeah, not a great pedigree.  Their next pick was corner Leon McFadden, not a bad player but a this late, taking a corner doesn’t really help your need at corner as well as Dee Milliner would have.  They should’ve flipped these picks, taking a corner early and a DE or DT later.  The defensive line talent was much more deep in this draft.  Their last picks were 6th and 7th rounders that will have to do their best to make the practice squad, so nothing special there either.  Browns should’ve at least considered a QB as well because Weeden is not the future of the Browns, no matter how bad they may want him to be.  A failed draft because they didn’t consider value at any pick and just failed to address it with better selections.

 

So there you have it, my draft day biggest winners and losers.  Let me know what you think and who you thought were the biggest winners and losers.  No matter how your team did or how people think they did, remember we can’t really tell how good or bad a class is until the guys get on the field, but this is just my initial thought about how I thought things went.  Until then, we’ll really have to wait and see.

Wilcox Makes History

jj wilcox Dallas-Cowboys-dallas-cowboys-1857395-1024-768

In the 3rd round, with the 80th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected safety J.J. Wilcox.  With this pick, Wilcox made history by being the highest selected Georgia Southern Eagle in the history of the program.

Congratulations to J.J. on making his dreams come true by being selected in the NFL Draft and getting his chance to do something great at the highest level of football.  He’ll add some class and be a great addition to the locker room right away.  On the field, he’ll instantly give them special teams help and could easily develop quickly into that special teams demon.  I would say he will also definitely be challenging early for a starting spot, if not already be a projected starter out of the gate.  This is a definite need by the Cowboys and they certainly addressed it with adding this guy.  They get a great all around player that can help them immediately.

So congratulations J.J., go do great things in the NFL and GATA!