Welcome to the first installment of a three part roundtable discussion where the Grits Blitz bloggers discuss some important topics in relation to the Atlanta Falcons 2012 draft.
QUESTION: Armchair GM: You are Thomas Dimitroff. What is your draft strategy?
Eric (@GentlemanMashr): My Draft Strategy is to focus on the lines - primarily athletic OLs and speedy ends. We've all but ignored DEs in the early rounds, and it has hurt us. If the Falcons can hit on a high value End or OT in the 2nd or 3rd round, it could fundamentally change the future for this team. Defense should be the priority, as the offense has more of the weapons it needs. This all goes out the window, of course, if some player who absolutely should not be available when we pick just happens to fall there.
On an additional note - the running back issue - I do think it needs to be addressed in this draft, but can wait until the last day. I like Bernard Pierce and Chris Polk, but not enough to continue using early picks on offensive skill positions Based on Virginia Tech RBs lack of production in the NFL, I want no part of David Wilson - especially after I watched him run East to West for most of the game against Michigan. In the fifth round, I would love to see us take Terrance Ganaway, a running back with decent speed for his tremendous size - or even wait until late in the draft to roll the dice on a Sun Belt workhorse in either Bobby Rainey or Lance Dunbar.
Matt (@mFalcons5): I fully believe Dimitroff goes to straight best player available mode. With only a handful of selections, you need to go for value. Let us not forget that our only real FA loss, Curtis Lofton, already has two replacements in Lofa Tatupu and Akeem Dent. Atlanta has no big "needs" created by the offseason.
I think it is hard to target certain positions with only a few picks. For instance, say Dimitroff wanted to take a tackle, but a position fit was not available with the first two picks, we are then deep into the 5th round trying to plug in a player. Unless Atlanta has only two "needs" at starting spots, I expect the Falcons to draft only the best talent available, and supplement our weaknesses with still available free agents or perhaps a last minute trade (such as Tye Hill or Domonique Foxworth). Edit: Last minute trade appears to potentially include Asante Samuel.
Mike (@ColossalChicken): The Falcons are already a playoff team; therefore, drafting project players in the early rounds would be counter productive. I believe there will be a few surprises come Friday evening, and Atlanta will have to RISE UP and select a player that will compete during camp for the starting position. I would select a defensive back with the 55th pick. You will not be able to draft an elite lineman in this draft in the second round. Sorry, but there are too many unknown variables with them. Atlanta needs to be safe, draft a defensive back that can start at nickel and call it an evening. I can see Atlanta trading back up into the fourth round, it’s a wise move and also expected. I would be shocked to see Atlanta trade anybody this weekend, but if they do I would support TD and his decision.
Kevin (@CFBZ): Games are won and lost in the trenches. It's all about how well you protect your quarterback and how well you can throw your opponent's quarterback off kilter. The Falcons need help along the offensive line and I believe that they can find a guard in the first two picks that can compete for playing time this year. With the other pick they should go after a pass rusher. I don't care what position he plays but we need someone besides John Abraham who can get after the quarterback. After those two picks, I think you default to best available talent with the focus being on positions that will become a need for us next year (like center and tight end).
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