Sports Nickel Exclusive:
Rookie Review – Atlanta Falcons
Team Draft Needs:
Wide Receiver, Offensive Linemen, Defensive End, Linebacker, Safety
Team Draft Picks:
Pick #19: Sean Weatherspoon – Linebacker – Missouri
Pick #83: Cory Peters – Defensive Tackle – Kentucky
Pick #98: Mike Johnson – Offensive Guard / Tackle – Alabama
Pick #117: Joe Hawley – Offensive Guard / Center – UNLV
Pick #135: Dominique Franks – Cornerback – Oklahoma
Pick #165: Kerry Meier – Wide Receiver – Kansas
Pick #171: Shann Schillinger – Safety – Montana
Team Draft Trades:
Atlanta traded their fifth and sixth round draft picks (numbers 149 and 189 to St. Louis for the 135th selection in the fifth round. The team selected cornerback Dominique Franks on day three.
The Falcons continued their offseason mission of improving their defense and adding depth to their offense. Atlanta got their wish when Sean Weatherspoon fell to them at pick number 19. Witherspoon is a hard worker with great character. His speed has helped him become excellent in pass coverage and he’s physical enough to plug the run gaps. ‘Spoon’ will most certainly play the outside backer in the Falcons’ scheme. His weakness will more than likely be his ability to rush the passer off of the outside.
Defensive tackle Cory Peters was underrated in what turned out to be a deep draft for tackles. Peters showed smarts in the classroom, making the honor roll and showed toughness on the field, raking in 146 tackles during his three seasons as a starter. If Peters can perform at a high level in training camp, he could compete with Thomas Johnson for the starting spot. Really, his playing time in his first year will be dependent upon how the other tackles play. If he comes in hungry and plays well, he might get a chance.
I love the moves of adding Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley. Both of these guys can play multiple positions and are versatile. They add depth to what was already a pretty good offensive line. If these guys can develop, they give the front office gurus options for when Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo become free agents next season.
The team traded up to land Dominique Franks. They continue to add depth to their cornerback position after adding Dunta Robinson in free agency. Franks is a threat to return it for a touchdown any time he touches the ball. He will see immediate playing time with the special teams unit. Franks will need some time to develop at the corner position, but the Falcons hope that he might be a part of their long-term picture in the secondary.
I have several questions about the Kerry Meier pick, especially now that his brother Dylan died in a hiking accident, only days before the draft. The incident happened right in front of Kerry’s eyes as he watched his older brother plummet to his death, while hiking in Arkansas. It is tough enough to make it in the NFL without emotional baggage, but this will prove to be a challenging for Kerry considering how close he was to his brother. Kerry was originally a quarterback when he showed up to KU and changed positions once Todd Reesing arrived on the scene. Kerry is big and has soft hands, but he still needs to develop at the position. He may stick with the team a year or two, but I don’t see him lasting in the NFL. Safety Shann Schillinger may have the same fate. He’ll have to play hard and prove his worth working with the special teams.