2013 NFL Draft Prospects Who Were Born to Play for the Atlanta Falcons

Christopher Beheler@@CBehelerCorrespondent IIIFebruary 8, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Prospects Who Were Born to Play for the Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons will look to the 2013 NFL Draft with one eye on the present and one on the future. While there are definite needs, Atlanta continues to redefine what it means to be a Falcon. This evolving identity will be key for the franchise's continuing success.

    So who are the Falcons?

    The offense has transitioned to an up-tempo passing attack. Each skill position has to be prepared to catch the ball.  Good height and great hands might outweigh top end speed.

    On defense, versatility is king. Coach Mike Smith has always believed in heavy rotation, while DC Mike Nolan will send players out of position to confuse opponents. This mix means that potential players have to be versatile enough to meet the coaches requirements.

    Of course, general manager Thomas Dimitroff will have the final word. In his tenure with the Falcons, Dimitroff has built a new culture for the Falcons. When analyzing his past drafts, there are three intangibles that jump off the page. Dimitroff seems to put two traits above most measurables. Dimitroff looks for intelligent, tough players.

    Taking all this into consideration, there are some players who seem born to play for the Atlanta Falcons.

5. Born at the Wrong Time

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    Some players might exemplify what it means to a Falcon, but they were simply born at the wrong time.

    Born Too Late

    Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jarvis Jones could have easily transitioned from Athens to Atlanta with one exception...

    He was born too late.

    Jones might be the best overall linebacker in the 2013 draft. Prior to 2008, the Falcons might have had a shot at a player of this caliber. Since the team has become a consistent winner, the price to move up has become too steep (unless your name is Julio Jones).

    Born Too Early

    SMU defensive end Margus Hunt seems to be everything that Mike Nolan could ask for, except he was born too soon. Hunt will be 26 by the time the 2013 regular season starts. This would make his learning curve a little too sharp for a first-round pick. Hunt would most likely be 30 by the time his rookie contract was up.

    A few years younger, and Hunt would have been the ideal Falcons defensive end for years to come.

4. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

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    Le'Veon Bell is a power running back that might not wow someone with his top speed. He has the size and strength to break tackles and gain extra yards. He might have real value if he falls in the draft behind speedier but less consistent backs.

    What Makes Him a Falcon on the Field

    Bell would be an excellent change of pace if Jacquizz Rodgers becomes the starter. Bell is willing and able to plow through the line in short yardage situations. His size and reliable hands would also make another viable target for Ryan in check-down situations.

    A Falcons State of Mind

    One can see where Bell's heart and mind are at by watching his feet. Even when it seems hopeless, Bell's feet are constantly churning. The Falcons have become synonymous with "never say die." Bell seems to already have the same attitude. The Falcons desperately need a short yardage back that does not seem to fall asleep when he reaches the line of scrimmage.

3. Dallas Thomas, OT/OG, Tennessee

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    Dallas Thomas is a versatile and somewhat underrated offensive lineman. He was a standout on a mediocre Tennessee Volunteer's offense. Thomas was a starter at both the tackle and guard position. While the Falcons might be looking to go bigger along the offensive line going forward, Thomas could add to his 308 pounds as he matures.

    What Makes Him a Falcon on the Field

    Thomas is an athletic lineman and skillful blocker. He is versatile enough to substitute at any of the tackle or guard positions. Much like Peter Konz in 2012, Thomas could easily substitute his way into meaningful playing time as rookie. His combination of athleticism and raw power would allow him to be incorporated into any scheme.

    A Falcons State of Mind

    Thomas handled being moved from tackle to guard with class. There was no dip in effort despite being moved to lower profile position. This team-first attitude means Thomas is already playing with a Falcons mindset. Thomas also shows a football intelligence that helps him  overcome situations where he is physically outmatched.  Mentally and physically tough, Thomas seems to already be a Falcon...he just doesn't know it yet.

2. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

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    Tight end Zach Ertz might be one of the best fits for the Falcons in 2013. Tight end will be a position of need for the Falcons. Even if Tony Gonzalez returns for one final season, the Falcons will still need a replacement for 2014 and beyond.

    What Makes Him A Falcon on the field

    Ertz seems to be a perfect fit for the Falcons offense. His 6'6" height makes for the kind of target Matt Ryan prefers. Ertz is cut from the same mold as Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. No, he is not a first ballot Hall of Fame player straight out of college. But Ertz is willing to give up his body to make a catch.

    Like the Falcons' three big targets, Ertz is willing and able to extend and contort his body for the tough catch.

    A Falcons State of Mind

    Ertz's Stanford education might speak for itself, but Ertz's willingness to block speaks volumes more. Ertz has the skills to be a pure receiver at tight end. The fact that Ertz is so willing to block tenaciously for his teammates shows a team-first mindset. The Falcons have little patience with divas. Ertz would fit right in.

1. Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers

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    Khaseem Greene is a safety turned linebacker. He still still flashes those safety skills in coverage, but delivers hits like a linebacker.  Greene might follow Curtis Lofton and William Moore as a Falcons second-round gem.

    What Makes Him a Falcon on the Field

    Greene might be one of the most Nolan-ready players in the draft. Greene's status as a 'tweener only makes him more valuable in Nolan's shifting schemes. Whether he is rushing the passer or covering a tight end, Greene has the speed to get there and the power to lay the wood when he arrives.

    A Falcons State of Mind

    Greene is exactly the type of player the Falcons strive for on defense. During his time at Rutgers, Greene dedicated himself to gaining weight. Greene never grew overconfident that his skill alone would secure his starting spot. This type of dedication would follow in the footsteps of Sean Weatherspoon's mantra of "always hungry."