The Atlanta Falcons: Who Is Thomas DeCoud?

Kimberley Nash@sambrooklynSenior Writer IApril 20, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 9: Cornerback Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons sets on defense against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on August 9, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.   (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Thomas DeCoud in the third-round of the 2008 NFL Draft.  At 6'0", 197 lbs., he isn't a big guy. However, he had the reputation in college of being a monster hitter, racking up 116 tackles in his senior year.

To date he has been limited to playing special teams, an area he excelled in at Cal (he blocked six kicks as a two-year starter), but with the release of Lawyer Milloy, DeCoud finds himself in a position to perhaps win the starting safety role in the Falcon's secondary.

He has the size, the speed, and the potential to be solid at the position, but he will need to work on his pass coverage skills and suppress his urge to go for the big hit every time. His eagerness to de-cleat an opposing player has sometimes led to him biting too quickly on plays and missing the tackle altogether.

However, beyond that, his vertical ability could make him great in pass coverage once he learns to read play action and make the proper breaks on the ball.

For all his tackling and hitting prowess in college, he was not much of a threat to intercept.

He has the versatility to play any position in the secondary, he started at cornerback and was later moved to the safety position in college; he has also played some free safety as well, showing that he has the speed and ability to play anywhere on the field.

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As the Falcons look ahead to the draft, the safety position has been on their mind a bit, there are still some mocks with safety, Louis Delmas, being the guy chosen at 24. That could have more to do with DeCoud's value as a special teams guy and less with his inability to play safety. Hard to know for sure.

What is certain, though, is this: DeCoud has the potential to be a solid player for the Falcons and no matter who they draft, he will likely have the first crack at replacing Milloy and unearthing the potential that Dimitroff saw in him last year.