2011 NFL Draft Grades: Atlanta Falcons Day 2 and 3 Analysis

Mike Foster@michaelsfosterCorrespondent IApril 30, 2011

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Runningback Jacquizz Rodgers #1 of the Oregon State Beavers runs with the football during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Beavers defeated the Wildcats 29-27.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons made the most out of their six picks in this year's NFL draft, rounding out the final day with a few high-profile selections.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff kept wheeling and dealing, trading up in the fifth round to draft tailback Jacquizz Rodgers out of Oregon State.

Another possible steal was the seventh-round selection of defensive end Cliff Matthews out of South Carolina.

These two picks definitely address areas of need for the Falcons, which is explosiveness in the backfield and another solidified defensive end to rotate.

It's interesting how the team seemed to address their biggest leads in later rounds, but fans should be familiar enough with the production of Rodgers and Matthews in college, and many believe both picks were very good.

Ending up with just six total selections, the Falcons went for scoring over defense.

Overall, the Falcons seem pretty solidified at each position on offense. With Jones and Rodgers added to the offense, it's hard to imagine this team not having a top-10 offense next season.

The questionable part of the draft is the fact defensive positions were so neglected, especially in the secondary.

Many expected the Falcons to take a defensive lineman early, and also expected to see a defensive back come off the board.

Atlanta was victimized by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game in their 48-21 home loss in the NFC Divisional Playoff round.

You would assume, considering that's the last time the birds were on the field, that that fact would still be in their memory. So, the fact that not one defensive back was taken is a little baffling.

Also, the Akeem Dent selection is questionable. Dent is an undersized linebacker, yet productive in college, but has no chance of starting in the middle with Curtis Lofton in the way.

Why did the Falcons use their second overall pick for a player who's pretty much guaranteed to be a back up? With Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson, it's also very unlikely that Dent squeezes into the linebacker rotation at all.

Other than that, the draft was solid. Matt Bosher, out of Miami, is a rare, versatile punter and kicker. The seventh round pick of Andrew Jackson doesn't really make much of a splash, but the Falcons do need depth on the offensive line.

And the fact Atlanta got an All-SEC caliber defensive end, in Cliff Matthews, with the last pick is a nice cherry on top of the cake.

Here's a quick look and analysis of how things panned out.


Round 1: Julio Jones, Receiver, Alabama

Jones will open up the Falcons offense. Defenses will no longer be cutting the Falcons offense in half like they have in the past by simply rolling coverage at Roddy White. Jones gets the opportunity mainly because Michael Jenkins, albeit talented, has never completely threatened a defense.

Expecting Jones to see a lot of passes, with White and Gonzalez around, is a questionable area. But, when Gonzalez retires in the near future Atlanta will have another big, physical receiver to go to.


Round 3: Akeem Dent, Linebacker, Georgia

Dent was a very productive linebacker during his senior season at Georgia. At 6'1, 233 pounds, he's not huge. Neither is he mightily athletic, but he has good instincts and is a sure tackler.


Round 5: Jacquizz Rodgers, Tailback, Oregon State

Rodgers burst onto the college football landscape in 2008 with an all-time game against USC. He's short, at just 5'7", but he's a strong runner with great feet and vision. He strings moves together very well. Reminds a lot of people of Warrick Dunn. Rodgers should give the Falcons a nice change of pace in their backfield, which they desperately need.


Round 6: Matt Bosher, Punter/Kicker, Miami (FL)

As said, Bosher is a versatile and useful special teamer. Very talented, and obviously drafted late because of his position and not because of any lacking area. 


Round 7: Andrew Jackson, Guard, Fresno State

Andrew Jackson has battled injury, but will be healthy in the fall and will add depth to the Falcons offensive line.


Round 7: Cliff Matthews, Defensive End, South Carolina

Anytime you can get a big time pass rusher from the SEC, you've got a steal. Matthews was a highly recruited player who never dominated, but definitely did his job at South Carolina. He's got an awkward frame, and still is a little raw, but he will definitely help the Falcons pass rush when John Abraham is catching wind.