Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff made some surprising and unpopular moves during the draft weekend.
While the San Francisco 49ers were taking just about every big name available, Dimitroff drafted a heap of under-the-radar prospects. Some of the picks drew a lot of head scratching, but after plenty of evaluation and film watching, it's clear that Dimitroff is just simply doing what he does every year—being Dimitroff.
This draft class was hyperfocused on defense but also included a very interesting tight end prospect that nobody saw coming.
Here's how each of Comrade's picks will fall into the team depth in their rookie campaigns.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 219 lbs.
Sean Renfree was a productive quarterback at Duke in David Cutcliffe's spread offensive system, but he was never prolific. In his senior season, Renfree completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 3,113 yards but only found the end zone through the air 19 times.
It was no surprise that Atlanta spent its last draft pick on a quarterback. The Falcons have not re-signed Luke McCown, who saw zero snaps behind Matt Ryan last season. Dominique Davis is a talented backup who will compete with Renfree for the second-string role behind Ryan.
For the sake of the Falcons, and the fans, the hope is that Renfree doesn't see much more than a clipboard and headset this season.
School: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6'2", 213 lbs.
With two Pro Bowl safeties in Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, as well as a talent like Charles Mitchell on deck, the Falcons won't have much of a competition at the safety positions this year.
Zeke Motta is a terrific downhill tackler and could make a huge impact on special teams. His style of play stands out on tape and could make him that preseason all-star that each team seems to have every summer, but as far as the prospects of starting is concerned, he's out of luck.
School: Central Florida
Height/Weight: 5'11", 201 lbs.
Ishmael, like Motta, will be hard-pressed to find playing time during the regular season.
However, the future is bright for this unsung talent. Ishmael was never a big name, thanks to the conference he played in, but he shows up as a major playmaker on tape. He's always around the ball and has fantastic instincts when it comes to tracking and jumping in front of passing lanes.
Here's the verdict at the safety position in Atlanta: William Moore has his spot locked up, but Thomas DeCoud could actually get pushed somewhere down the road. While DeCoud is an above-average pass defender, he's also a liability in tackling.
Motta and Ishmael are both solid tacklers who could push DeCoud, who signed a five-year extension last March. Falcons fans may not want to hear it, but if DeCoud ever begins to lag in his ball-hawking department, he could quickly become trade bait or worse.
That's a worst-cast scenario, however. Neither of these young safeties will be more than special teamers next season.
Position: Defensive End
School: Texas Christian
Height/Weight: 6'2", 256 lbs.
Stansly Maponga entered the draft a year early despite not being considered a first-tier selection. He won't regret that decision either as he'll have a chance for some early playing time in Mike Nolan's defensive rotation.
Maponga is a fantastic pass-rusher despite his linebacker build, but he's not versatile enough to be used as a linebacker. Many Falcons fans figured general manager Thomas Dimitroff would draft a player to fill that role.
If Maponga can quiet critics who think he's too short to be a starting defensive end, then he has a future with the Falcons.
Position: Tight end
Height/Weight: 6'8", 260 lbs.
Most Falcons fans' immediate reaction to the Toilolo pick was, "What? Who?"
To be fair, Toilolo was considered a top-10 tight end in a pretty deep group of tight ends. What made him stand out to the Falcons was that, at 6'8", he's also a power forward. Sound familiar?
Okay, Tony Gonzalez can't be replaced. But Toilolo brings a unique skill set and a lot of upside. He's a talented pass catcher who reels in a lot of high balls, which is something Matt Ryan has been prone to throwing in red-zone situations, with much success.
Ask any Stanford fan out there, and they'll tell you this guy would be considered a big-time prospect if he wasn't entering in the same year as the man who started in front of him, Zach Ertz.
Toilolo could sneak in a few touchdown catches this season if he can pass Chase Coffman on the depth chart.
Position: Defensive end
Height/Weight: 6'4", 276 lbs.
Malliciah Goodman showed flashes of brilliance in the 2012 season, especially in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU.
Goodman is an aggressive, quick pass-rusher with unnaturally long arms. He also uses his hands very well.
A starting job is definitely in the cards for this guy, who should earn the spot opposite of Osi Umenyiora. That could vary a tad if Nolan leans toward more 3-4 style alignments, but Nolan will find as many ways as possible to get Goodman on the field early and often.
This guy wasn't a first-round pick, but he could easily look like one in a heartbeat.
School: SE Louisiana
Height/Weight: 5'10", 188 lbs.
Robert Alford was a surprise pick by the Falcons considering they traded up to get a cornerback in the first round.
Alford is a proven playmaker, a solid tackler and runs in the 4.3s. He's a curious addition because the Falcons love Robert McClain so much at nickelback—a spot McClain earned with authority last year.
Alford fits as a dime back in the current rotation, but he could work his way up to a starter in a few years. Asante Samuel, albeit having the starting position nailed down, is an older veteran who could be phased out after a season or two.
This is a future pick for the Falcons, but don't be surprised if Alford becomes not just a feature—but a playmaker as a punt returner in his rookie year.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 190 lbs.
Desmond Trufant is built to be an immediate starter for the Falcons, opposite of Samuel. He's got above-average speed and flies to the football.
Trufant never wowed with interception totals, but he was a shutdown corner during his time with the Huskies. He had 33 career pass breakups, which is an outstanding statistic.
Many criticized Trufant because they didn't feel that high on him, but those were pundits who put too much value in flashy numbers.
When you watch the tape on this guy, you see what Thomas Dimitroff saw—a guy who can have a very long career at the cornerback position.