Atlanta Falcons 2011 Draft Central: The Case for Bolstering the Offense
The saying "offense is the best defense" may not automatically come to mid when thinking about the 2010 Atlanta Falcons, but their offense is not barren of big-time play-makers.
Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner are already established contributors to the team offensively. But, would adding another game-changer make sense for the Falcons?
Though winning teams often look to take defensive players in the early rounds of the draft, there are some major prospects in this year's draft class that could help make this Falcon offense that much more dangerous.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
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It's no question what kind of talent this receiver posses, but there is some argument over where he lands on draft day. With some saying he is a top-10 pick waiting to happen, others argue he will be overshadowed by several other, more-popular wide receivers.
Michael Floyd is a big guy, and has good experience playing in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame. Strong hands, great route-running abilities, and a level head make him a very attractive prospect. The only questions would be his injury-ridden past and the fact that he may not declare for the draft (due to only being a junior).
Floyd would be an excellent receiver to pair with Roddy White, but he may not be available when the Falcons pick. If he is, Floyd could hear his name called as an Atlanta Falcon.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburg
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Jonathan Baldwin is a huge, reliable receiver who has General Managers drooling over his potential. Under the right coaching, Baldwin should develop into a No. 1 receiver.
Baldwin has the prototypical body for an NFL receiver, at 6'-3" and 225 pounds. He gets to balls that other receivers would find hard to, and is a terror in the red-zone. Along with his ability to catch, scout rave about his ability to block and project him to be selected by a run-first team with a young quarterback. Though he doesn't get as much recognition as some other draft-eligible receivers, he is just as likely to hear his named called early on draft day.
The only questions about Baldwin are about his ability to make plays against top-tier cornerbacks. But due to his size and ability to run clean routes, this shouldn't be a problem at the next level. Jonathan Baldwin would soar under a Mike Mullarkey offense that is in need of fresh receivers.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
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With Tony Gonzalez aging and in need of an heir, Kyle Rudolph may just be the guy. He may not fit in to the Falcons' scheme from year one, but would certainly help the team after Gonzalez retires.
Rudolph missed the the end of the season because of a torn hamstring and had to have surgery, but that may not seriously affect his draft stock. He is a perfect size for a tight end, and combined with exceptional receiving skills he should be an asset to any offense. Rudolph is a guy who could see his stock rise significantly if he shows he has recovered enough from his surgery, so Thomas Dimitroff may have to hold his breath if this is the guy he wants to select.
Kyle Rudolph is a typical draft prospect at tight end. They usually fly under the radar in the first round, usually being taken between the 25-50 picks. Though some teams might overlook the position all together, the Falcons are a team that knows how valuable having a receiving tight end can be.
Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
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Though he may not be considered close to a first rounder just yet, his draft stock is increasing quickly.
You may not know much about him, but Bilal Powell is one of the NCAA's top rushers this year and is an ideal change-of-pace back for teams that already feature solid running backs. Even if Powell is not on the radar for Atlanta in the first-round, he still may be available when the Falcons pick in the second round.
He may not be a popular pick, as most Falcon fans want to see the ball in receivers hands more, but he could help a Michael Turner that appears to be aging along with the Atlanta play action.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
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Ah yes.... the dream selection. But will he be available? Likely not, but it doesn't hurt to hope a little bit.
Julio Jones is the second best receiver in this class, but is probably the top receiver in a class that doesn't feature A.J. Green. He has the ability to bail young quarterbacks, along with make great plays off of seemingly-dead screen passes. Add great route-running ability to his explosive speed in the open field and limitless potential, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that he could be a top-10 pick.
Jonesy would be the ideal pick for many teams, but it is hard to imagine him still being available when the Falcons pick. If he is, he's a Falcon. No questions asked.
Who Else Might Be On Thomas Dimitroff's Board?
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Not even getting into the various offensive lineman, these players could all help Atlanta in 2011 and beyond. Are there any other players that you'd like to see the Falcons select with their first-round pick? Feel free to suggest someone in the comment box below.