With So Many Options at No. 24, Who Will The Atlanta Falcons Choose?

Kimberley Nash@sambrooklynSenior Writer IApril 8, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24:  Defensive back Louis Delmas of Western Michigan runs in practice drills during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Here's the one thing that we can agree on: the Atlanta Falcons have needs to meet.

After that, I am not sure if anyone is on the same page as far as what need is most pressing and which can be met by making a few more free agent acquisitions and/or fishing through the roster for untapped potential.

The Falcons face a daunting task at No. 24 because whoever they choose needs to be a) ready to step in and play immediately and b) worth the money that a first-rounder will command.

No fan wants to see a mistake with this pick because all the great strides of last year could quickly become a distant memory if we do.

So, with this article, I hope to point out a few of the players that the Falcons may be thinking of picking up (at least according to the gazillion mock drafts out there), while mentioning my own prospect, who is likely to be available by the time the 24th pick rolls around:

Louis Delmas (SS, pictured above)

The Falcons need a safety. That's a fact. Lawyer Milloy is gone and that leaves a gaping hole in the secondary that the Falcons have to fill.

Delmas is the No. 1 safety in the draft and fits the mould of the kind of player that GM Thomas Dimitroff loves to have on his teams. He's tough, plays bigger than his size, is a hard-worker, and has a great feel for the game.

However, he does not possess the body of a strong safety and will most likely get kicked around a bit against the larger, more physical receivers in this division.

Further, for all his potential, he did play at a small-school so you have that nagging question in your mind as to whether or not he can excel as a pro against tougher opponents than he will have seen in the Mid-American Conference.

Lastly, the Falcons have yet to see what Thomas DeCoud can do. He was drafted last year in the third-round and didn't see much time behind Milloy.

He may be the answer for the Falcons at safety so drafting Delmas may be jumping the gun a bit.

Brandon Pettigrew (TE)

There are still a few people out there who feel like Matt Ryan would be better served with a tight end to bolster the offense.

However, at this point, I think it is clear that the Falcons' main concern should be their defense.

If offense was a concern, I don't think they would have traded wide receiver Laurent Robinson, a move that I am not altogether sure I am happy about. Then again, you have to like what they were able to get in return for a guy who didn't play last year.

Now, Robinson wasn't a tight end, but some feel he had a ton of potential and maybe should have been given an opportunity to see if he could contribute once he returned from injury.

However, what that tells me is the Falcons are interested in stockpiling as many quality draft picks as possible. They now have five of their picks within the first 160 or so.

That will give them a lot of wiggle room to find some talented players for that playmaker-starved defense.

Translation; no tight end at No. 24.

Vontae Davis (CB)

Since DeAngelo Hall left, there is a pretty big void at the cornerback position.

Vernon Davis' little brother, yes that Vernon Davis (the 49ers TE), is one of the top three cornerbacks in the draft and offers the perfect combination of speed (he ran a 4.49 40) and athleticism.

He's got all the tools to be a phenomenal player at the position.

However, his recent failure of an NFL drug test would lead me to believe he is no longer high on the Falcons list of players to draft.

Clay Matthews (LB)

If you have read my other article, then you already know how I feel about the Falcons drafting a linebacker.

However, if you haven't read it, here are my thoughts on that in a nutshell; they don't need to, at least not this year.

I feel that between Stephen Nicholas and Coy Wire, they can find a guy to start alongside Mike Peterson and Curtis Lofton. If they want to pick up a linebacker in the later rounds, then fine, but I don't think it's their strongest need this year.

Matthews also tested positive for PED's which leaves his status as a first-rounder in doubt.

However, prior to that, he was quickly becoming the scouts choice for being one of the most undervalued linebacker prospects in the draft pool.

At 6' 3", 240 lbs, he definitely has the size that you want, and he showed great speed off the edge during the pass-rush. He's also amazing in special teams and plays with an tireless motor.

However, with limited starts, it's hard to know how far his potential can go.

Evander "Ziggy" Hood

Grady Jackson is gone and the Falcons have a missing piece at the defensive tackle position.

Hood is one of many players who have been thought of as a possible pick for the Falcons (Peria Jerry and Sen'Derrick Marks are others) to fill this need.

Hood is tough and plays as such, but he doesn't have the body of a defensive tackle and his player profile seems to be much like that of the already signed Jonathan Babineaux.

Hood may hold a bit of potential, but I am not sure that he is appreciably better than what we already have on staff.

So, where do we go from here? Well, personally, I think the Falcons desperately need a corner. I don't know that I would like Davis at No. 24, but I am impressed with Darius Butler of Connecticut.

I realize that, due to his size, he may be at a disadvantage against bigger receivers, however, if he can put on a little weight, I think he has the potential to be that shutdown corner the Falcons are desperately in need of finding.

Butler has the speed to keep up with the best wide receivers in the league and the athleticism to make the big play when needed.

He is also instinctive both on and off the ball, so he is always around the play as it is happening.

He is a deceptively good tackler and has the ability to force a fumble here and there.

I truly feel that where he lacks in skill, he more than makes up in instinct and talent. Everything else he lacks is teachable.

The Falcons will be making their lists and checking them thrice.

I'm so ready for the mocks to end and the real draft to begin. Whoever the Birds end up with at No. 24 is certain to be cause for more discussion.

Either way it goes, April 25 can't get here quick enough for me.


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