Draft Prospects Who Would Fit Perfectly with the Atlanta Falcons

Al BruceContributor IApril 5, 2013

Draft Prospects Who Would Fit Perfectly with the Atlanta Falcons

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    Baseball's regular season has started, the NCAA tournament is down to the Final Four and most NBA teams have less than 10 regular-season games left.  April is officially here, and three weeks from today, we'll know how the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft unfolded.

    By now you're probably familiar with most of the players being linked to the Atlanta Falcons in the draft's opening round.  Instead of talking more about guys like Desmond Trufant, Bjoern Werner, Arthur Brown and Tank Carradine, we're going to kick off the weekend by looking at some prospects who would be good fits for the Falcons on the second and third days of the draft.

    A few points before we begin.  First, even with the release of Tyson Clabo, I still think that the Falcons' most pressing needs are on the defensive side of the ball.  With young players like Lamar Holmes (third round, 2012), Mike Johnson (third round, 2010) and Garrett Reynolds (fifth round, 2009) in the fold, Clabo's replacement is likely already on Atlanta's roster.  That's why you won't see an offensive lineman on this list. 

    In addition, I don't see Atlanta adding another running back when it already has four backs under contract for 2013: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith.

    Second, I evaluated every player in the slideshow based on Atlanta's perceived need at the position and whether he would pass general manager Thomas Dimitroff's traditional high-character, high-production pre-draft evaluation.

    Third, although I've mentioned players like Leon McFadden (CB, San Diego State), Bennie Logan (DT, LSU) and Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers) before, I kept them off this list in the interest of putting some fresh names out there for consideration.  I still think that all three players would look good in red and black.  Sean Porter (LB, Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (LB, Missouri), Ace Sanders (WR, South Carolina) and Devin Taylor (DE, South Carolina) are also in this category.

    Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let's get acquainted with six more players whom I think Atlanta should consider as it works toward building a Super Bowl-caliber roster.

Marc Anthony, CB, California

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    "We have too many good cover corners on our roster" is something you'll never hear Mike Smith or any other competent NFL coach say.

    In case you missed it, the NFL is a passing league now.  Even if Atlanta is able to land a corner like Desmond Trufant in the first round, the team could still stand to add another one later in the draft given that Asante Samuel, Robert McClain and Dominique Franks are the only corners currently on the roster with any significant playing experience. 

     

    Why he's right for the role

    Anthony is a classic low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.  He doesn't have elite speed (4.63 40-yard dash at the combine), but he's instinctive and doesn't get lost in zone coverage.  His size (5'11", 196 pounds) would be a welcome addition to a smaller Atlanta cornerback group.  Anthony played in 41 games in four seasons at Cal and doesn't have any known character flags. 

    Here's what ex-Falcons cornerback and current Cal assistant Ashley Ambrose had to say about Anthony's game back in November via CalBears.com:

    It's rare to find a kid of his height and weight who can run like Marc. He can be physical at times. That's hard to find. The pros look for that. It's funny how many times the pros say it's hard to find guys of that size who are fast, can flip their hips and do a lot of things. He has the physical tools, he just has to be consistent and keep working to get better. I'm shooting for him to be one of the top guys in the country.

Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    "We have too many guys who can get after the quarterback" is something else you'll never hear Mike Smith or any other competent NFL coach say.

    Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews and whichever first- or second-round defensive end the Falcons may bring in represent a good start, but Atlanta has to play Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Aaron Rodgers next season.  More rushers will be needed.

     

    Why he's right for the role

    Lavar Edwards was never a full-time starter in Baton Rouge, but he still appeared in 52 games during his four years with the Tigers.  At 6'4", 277 pounds, Edwards does a nice job of using his long arms to keep offensive linemen's hands off him during his pass rush.  He's a natural 4-3 defensive end and displays good awareness on read-option and misdirection plays.  Edwards won one of LSU's Unsung Hero awards in 2012.

Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    Atlanta needs another big body to play on the inside of the defensive line to shore up its run defense.  The Falcons lost Vance Walker in free agency, and Peria Jerry and Corey Peters have been vulnerable to injuries in the past. 

     

    Why he's right for the role

    Boyd is an alert, big-bodied (6'3", 310 pounds) defensive tackle who knows how to play along the line of scrimmage.  He uses his large hands well to create separation from blockers and does a nice job defending screen passes.  Like Anthony and Edwards, Boyd was a four-year letter winner at Mississippi State.  I think he'd be a good value for Atlanta in the fifth or sixth round.

Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    It's no secret that Atlanta needs to add more talent to its linebacking corps.  The team added Brian Banks to compete with Akeem Dent earlier this week, but it still needs to bring in competition for Stephen Nicholas in the draft.

     

    Why he's right for the role

    I'm not a huge proponent of looking at college stats when I evaluate draft prospects; I'd rather just watch the film.  When you watch film of Stanford's defense, you can't help but notice Marietta, Ga. (Walton H.S.) native Chase Thomas.  He may not be the "coverage" linebacker that Falcons fans have been clamoring for all offseason, but he's a natural football player who will hit an offensive player in the mouth. 

    I like the way he works through traffic and finds his way through gaps as a blitzer.  I could see defensive coordinator Mike Nolan putting Thomas' hand in the ground or using him as a stand-up linebacker in a hybrid scheme.

Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    Atlanta has Tony Gonzalez back for another season, but it doesn't have much in the way of proven talent behind him.  Drafting a tight end wouldn't just be a move for the future, but it could also give the Falcons some creative options out of a twin-tight end, single-back formation with Steven Jackson.

     

    Why he's right for the role

    Mychal Rivera showed glimpses of his talent at Tennessee, but he was probably underused during the 37 games he played in Knoxville.  Rivera knows how to win one-on-one matchups in coverage and has soft hands.  I think he's a classic example of someone who will be a better player as a pro if he's drafted into the right situation. 

    Spending a year as Atlanta's second tight end could be a great opportunity for Rivera.  He'd be able to use his speed to take advantage of the matchups created by lining up with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.

Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas

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    Why there's a place for him in Atlanta

    "We have too many big, physical wideouts for our quarterback to throw to" is yet another thing you'll probably never hear Mike Smith say.

    Atlanta has arguably the best pair of wide receivers in the NFL, but it could use some insurance in case of an injury.  Harry Douglas is a solid option in the slot, but he lacks the size to play on the outside for an extended period.

     

    Why he's right for the role

    I've been a fan of Cobi Hamilton's game for a while.  He's not afraid to go over the middle and sacrifice his body to make a catch, and he has enough speed to run by defenders down the sideline too.  I'm especially impressed by the way he gets up field for yards after the catch.  He often lowers his shoulders into defensive backs as if he's a tight end.

    At 6'2", 212 pounds, he has a bit of Roddy White in his game.  He played in 51 games at Arkansas.

Now It's Your Turn

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    I want to hear from you.  What other prospects are good matches for the Falcons on the second and third days of the draft?