Saturday marked the end of the NFL Draft, the three day extravaganza that allows all thirty-two teams to add the most talented prospects from the college level to their rosters in order to fill some of the holes that had opened during the offseason.
This draft was considered to be of the utmost importance for the Falcons, who appeared to be a piece or two away from being ready to be a legitimate run at the Super Bowl in 2013. With eleven picks to play with going into the draft, the Falcons’ wheeling and dealing resulted in the team closing the selection process with eight new players.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these players, some of their college achievements, and how well they appear to fit with the Falcons:
First Round, #22 (#22 overall)
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Measurables: 6’0”, 186 lbs
Pick Grade: A. The Falcons desperately needed to bring in a cornerback to make up for the loss of Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, and they were halfway there with bringing in Trufant, the youngest of the three Trufant brothers that have played cornerback in the NFL. A solid defender in terms of pass coverage, time will tell if Trufant will live up to the high standards of Deion Sanders, whose #21 will be worn by the Huskie once he hits the gridiron.
Second Round, #28 (#60 overall)
Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
Measurables: 5’10”, 188 lbs
Pick Grade: B. Another solid corner in this year’s draft, Alford became the first FCS player taken in this year’s draft when the Falcons opted to select him with the sixtieth pick of the draft. Don’t let Alford’s status as a non-FBS player fool you: some executives had him slated as a late first round player due to his excellent speed and ability to play man-to-man. Although going for a highly rated defensive end may have been a better call after already grabbing one cornerback in the first round, most of the analysts honestly believe both Alford and the aforementioned Trufant can compete for a starting spot immediately.
Fourth Round, #30 (#127 overall)
Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson
Measurables: 6’3”, 276 lbs
Pick Grade: B+. Many fans began to wonder if Atlanta was considering bringing back perennial Pro Bowler John Abraham after the team chose not to pick up an end in the first two days of the draft, but those thoughts disappeared with the selection of Goodman. A reliable defensive end for the Tigers (he appeared in every game in his four seasons at Clemson), Goodman’s performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU was extremely impressive; hopefully it was just a taste of the kind of impact he will have playing in the Georgia Dome on a regular basis.
Fourth Round, #36 (#133 overall)
Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
Measurables: 6’8”, 260 lbs
Pick Grade: C+. Overshadowed by teammate Zach Ertz, Toilolo flew under the radar for most of the pre-draft process, something that I assume does not happen much for a man of his size. Toilolo may not have the results that make him a proven option at tight end, but in the fourth round he is worth the gamble. Dimitroff and Company knew it really is not much of a gamble to just roll the dice and give Toilolo the chance to learn from one of the best tight ends in NFL history in Tony Gonzalez.
Fourth Round, #20 (#153 overall)
Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU
Measurables: 6’2”, 256 lbs
Pick Grade: B-. An excellent player for the Horned Frogs, Maponga produced during his college career but is considered to be a possible liability in the league due to his size. Maponga has also been plagued with a foot injury dating back to his senior season, which may leave him a little behind going into training camp; however, if he is able to rush the passer like he did so many times against the dynamic players like RG3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o61Zc2egAr0, it will not take him very long to get up to speed.
Seventh Round, #37 (#243 overall)
Kemal Ishmael, S, UCF
Measurables: 5’10”, 201 lbs
Pick Grade: C-. The pickings are admittedly slim in the final round, but the Falcons may have been better off looking around at the options at linebacker, a position that most considered to be a bit of a need for the team. Instead, the team picks up Ishmael, who was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year along with first-team All-C-USA but is not known for being able to cover at a level that is necessary in the NFL. Ishmael is worth taking a chance on, but odds are in favor of Ishmael’s better days of football being in his rear-view mirror.
Seventh Round, #38 (#244 overall)
Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame
Measurables: 6’2″, 215 lbs
Pick Grade: B+. Notre Dame’s Defensive Player of the Year over Manti Te’o, Motta’s reliability (appeared in every game of his college career) and injury history (there is none) is exactly what you want in a player. Sure, he did not exactly set the stopwatch on fire when it came to his 40 yard dash (4.72), but a player like Motta could very well prove to provide excellent depth in the secondary.
Seventh Round, #43 (#249 overall)
Sean Renfree, QB, Duke
Measurables: 6’3”, 219 lbs
Pick Grade: B+. Call me crazy, but I love this pick. Renfree led the Blue Devils to their most successful season since a man named Spurrier was on the sidelines and put up respectable numbers in the process (3,113 yards with 19 TDs and 10 INTs). The biggest hangup on Renfree is his injury history that was present throughout his career at Duke, including his very last play as a Blue Devil in which he torn his right pectoral, but any quarterback that was approved by David Cutcliffe—who coached both Manning brothers in college—has the chance to prove himself and serve as your third string QB.
Which pick did you think was the best for the Falcons? Which left shaking your head? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think