Acquisition of Asante Samuel Will Affect Falcons' Draft Strategy

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterApril 25, 2012

With the deal for Asante Samuel in place, Atlanta can focus elsewhere in the draft.
With the deal for Asante Samuel in place, Atlanta can focus elsewhere in the draft.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When the Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire cornerback Asante Samuel, they did more than just shore up a secondary that was in need of help. The Falcons altered the way they’re going to be able to maneuver in the NFL draft on Friday and Saturday.

The trade -- Samuel signed a new three-year deal with the Falcons for $18.5 million as part of the trade package, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- will only require Atlanta to give up a late-round draft pick. But that means the Falcons will be down to just five picks in the upcoming draft, and one of those is a seventh-round compensatory pick.

Atlanta gave up first- and fourth-round picks this year in the Julio Jones trade of 2011. Now, the team has selections in the second, third, fifth, sixth and two in the seventh, but one of those last three picks (fifth, sixth or seventh) will be gone.

The loss of another draft pick would typically instill fear and despair in the hearts of fans, but this is no big deal.

No matter what round pick the Falcons are required to send to Philadelphia, the acquisition of Samuel is far more valuable this year to the team than anyone it could possibly grab in the late rounds.

Samuel will alter the course of games this year, and for years to come in Atlanta. It might take two, possibly three seasons for a late-round pick to have that much effect—if he ever does—on the Atlanta roster.

Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff will have to alter his course of action in the upcoming draft this weekend with regard to positional need, too.

Now that the Falcons have Samuel—and one of the top secondaries in the NFC—there’s no more need to look at a corner in the draft. Already on the roster with Samuel are Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson. Those three will make up the team’s nickel package.

Also on Atlanta’s roster for depth are Dominique Franks and Christopher Owens, and last year’s lone undrafted rookie free agent to make the roster from day one, Darrin Walls, is in the wings.

Atlanta can now look at the offensive and defensive lines with its first two picks in the draft and not feel bad about an underperforming secondary.

Actually, for the first time since Dimitroff’s been in Atlanta, teams around the league will be jealous of Atlanta’s defensive backfield.

Not a bad deal for a late-round pick.