Atlanta Falcons: Reviewing Their 2012 NFL Draft
In the 2011 NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons decided to put a large amount of their eggs in one basket and made a blockbuster trade by giving up five total picks to move up to the No. 6 overall selection to get an explosive offensive playmaker in Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
Jones battled injuries in his rookie season but displayed star potential when he was on the field, and he should form a tremendous starting duo of wide receivers with Roddy White for many years to come.
However, making the move up to select him cost the Falcons two of their picks in the 2012 draft, including their first-round selection. Were the Falcons able to fill the holes of their roster and take advantage of their other draft picks? Read through the following slides to find out.
Evaluating the Picks
Round 2, Pick 55: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 27
Konz is a well-rounded center and the clear-cut best prospect at the position in the draft class. He has the size of a guard combined with the athleticism, technique and quickness off the snap typical of a center. Konz is ready to be an immediate starter and take command of the Falcons’ offensive line at the center position.
Round 3, Pick 91: Lamar Holmes, OT, Southern Mississippi
Overall Prospect Rank: Not in Top 400
Holmes projects strictly as a right tackle without versatility, which hurts his value. He has massive size and is a quality run-blocker, but he is a subpar athlete even for an offensive lineman. Holmes’s footwork needs serious development, and he will struggle against speed rushers.
Round 5, Pick 157: Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 244
Ewing is a solid blocking fullback who is a good receiver out of the backfield. The Falcons subsequently released veteran Ovie Mughelli following the draft, leaving the door open for Ewing to be their starting fullback.
Round 5, Pick 164: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 124
Massaquoi is a decent hybrid pass-rusher, but his numbers dipped sharply last season as blockers focused more attention on him. Massaquoi has displayed his ability to get into the backfield and make a difference, but he is not an explosive athlete. In the Falcons’ deep defensive end rotation, he will be a situational player who will have to be able to make his mark on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 192: Charles Mitchell, SS, Mississippi State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 257
Mitchell is a hard-hitting, sound-tackling safety who is good in run support but struggles in pass coverage. He has subpar speed for a safety but can contribute as a situational defensive back and special teams contributor.
Round 7, Pick 249 (compensatory selection): Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 335
Robertson is a disruptive defensive tackle, but he does not have explosive athleticism and tends to play too upright. He is a solid run-stopper and has solid quickness off the snap. He has potential as a rotational defensive tackle.
Evaluating the Trades
The Falcons traded Round 1, Pick 22 and Round 4, Pick 118 along with 2011 first-, second- and fourth-round selections to the Cleveland Browns for the No. 6 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, used to select Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
Jones is a tremendous talent who looks like an emerging star who adds an explosive dynamic to the Falcons' offense that they previously lacked, but the Falcons gave up an awful lot just to snag Jones. It will be hard for the Browns not to get the better end of this trade considering they could potentially end up five quality contributors rather than the Falcons’ one, but Jones could end up being good enough to make the trade worth it.
The Falcons traded Round 3, Pick 84 to the Baltimore Ravens for Round 3, Pick 91 and Round 5, Pick 164.
Picking up a fifth-round selection to move down only seven spots was a good decision for the Falcons, especially considering they came into the 2012 draft with only five picks.
The Falcons traded Round 7, Pick 229 to the Philadelphia Eagles for cornerback Asante Samuel.
The Falcons got away with a tremendous steal in this trade. At the price of only a seventh-round draft pick, the Falcons came away with a cornerback who still ranks among the NFL’s top 10-15 players at his position. (Admittedly, this is a rough estimate; I did not rank all of the NFL cornerbacks for this purpose.)
Samuel will pair with Brent Grimes to form a tremendous starting duo on a cornerback depth chart that also includes Dunta Robinson, Chris Owens and Dominique Franks. The Falcons made a great move to trade for Samuel and are lucky no other NFL team was interested enough to trade for him.
Before the draft even began, the Falcons got great value with their acquisition of Asante Samuel. However, having given up valuable selection from this draft in their move up to acquire Julio Jones last year, the Falcons really need to take advantage of value throughout their draft selections this year, and they failed to do so.
The Falcons’ first draft selection of Konz was tremendous value, as they got the best center in the draft class and a first-round talent in the late second round. It came as a big surprise that Konz fell as far as he did, and the Falcons really got a steal with that selection.
Their third-round selection of Holmes, however, was a massive reach. Massaquoi was a very solid late fifth-round choice, but their other Day 3 picks did not stand out on their value.
The Falcons needed to upgrade their offensive line, especially at center and left tackle.
The selection of Konz was the big upgrade they needed at center. However, Holmes is unlikely to be the left tackle they are looking for and is more likely to end up as a backup to right tackle Tyson Clabo, who is a very solid starter.
The Falcons found a new starting fullback and added defensive depth with their Day 3 selections but did not address their other areas of significant need. The Falcons really could have benefited by adding a tight end or another linebacker, but they did not address either of those areas in this draft.
The Falcons’ big takeaways from this draft will be Peter Konz and Asante Samuel, along with the fact that picks from this draft were utilized in moving up for Julio Jones. The rest of the Falcons’ draft was subpar, as it did not take advantage of value while drafting players at unnecessary positions.
Bradie Ewing should be a solid starting fullback, while Charles Mitchell and Travian Robertson can provide solid depth at their positions. That makes all of them solid Day 3 additions, but they are not going to make or break the Falcons’ draft.
As a likely backup right tackle, Lamar Holmes was not worth more than a late-round selection. Jonathan Massaquoi projects as a solid rotational defensive end, but the Falcons were already very deep at the position with John Abraham, Ray Edwards, Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury.