Atlanta Falcons Draft Review: Solidifying the D

Micky WoosleyContributor IApril 27, 2009

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 23: Cornerback Chevis Jackson #22 of the Atlanta Falcons defends against a pass by the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome on November 23, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Well it seems so far the "process" is working. With another solid draft under their belt, the Falcons have solidified the D and shown their draft prowess once again.

Thomas Dimitroff once again proves why he won the Sporting News executive of the year award last year. Last year's draft focused more on the offense and depth; this year's draft almost solely was defense.

Let's look at the draftees and what effect they will have on the Falcons heading into the '09 season.

The Falcons went into the draft with holes at linebacker, safety, corner, defensive tackle, and defensive end. Before the draft, Atlanta traded their second round draft choice in 2010 to Kansas City for Tony Gonzalez, thus fortifying the tight end position.

The trade was a good one considering Atlanta got a pro-bowl tight end and should receive multiple compensatory picks in next year's draft due to free-agent losses. 

With the 24th pick in the draft Atlanta selected highly-touted DT Peria Jerry. The consensus on Jerry is he is a great player and possibly better than B.J. Raji, who was picked ahead of him.

With this pick and the return of Trey Lewis from injury, the Falcons look to have one heck of a defensive tackle rotation. Last season the defensive line was porous against the run and exposed the underachieving line-backing corps. This pick should help to solidify the defensive line against the run and Jerry should help out with pass rushing as well. 

After last season, the Falcons knew they needed to get better and younger at strong safety. They picked up (what may be a steal) SS William Moore in the second round.

Due to injuries, Moore had a down senior season and fell to the second round in the draft. Prior to his senior season, Moore was considered a possible top 10 pick in the draft. Moore has good speed (4.45) and is a hard-hitter. Another need pick and hole on the D filled.

In the third and fifth rounds, the Falcons picked up two cornerbacks, Christopher Owens and William Middleton. Atlanta was very high on Owens and he has very good man-to-man coverage skills. 

With the return of injured CB Von Hutchins, the pickup of Moore at safety, and the addition of two corners, the Falcons secondary looks good.

With the retirement of OT Todd Weiner, the Falcons needed to add depth to the offensive line. They did this by using a pick in the fifth round on OT Garrett Reynolds. Reynolds has good size at 6'8" and 310 pounds and should prove to be a solid backup.

Since Jamaal Anderson has so far been a bust, the Falcons looked to the defensive end position in round four. They selected DE Lawrence Sidbury from Richmond. Sidbury is 6'3" and weighs 266 pounds and is a pass-rushing specialist. Sidbury was considered a top small-school prospect and may have been a steal.

With Sidbury, Biermann, and Chauncey Davis on his heels it is time for Anderson to show something. If he doesn't, he may not be a Falcon at the end of training camp due to his high-salary and low production.

The one question mark about the Falcons draft was that they showed little priority to drafting a linebacker. Going into the draft, many felt the Falcons would draft a linebacker in the first or second round but didn't address the position until late in day two.

In the sixth round, they selected LB Spencer Adkins out of Miami. Adkins didn't play a whole lot and is a bit undersized at 5'11" and 230 pounds. The team must be more enamored with what they have at linebacker than I am to address the position so late in the draft. Look for Stephen Nicholas to push for a starting job alongside Peterson and Lofton.

The Falcons traded and acquired a pick in the seventh round that they used on DT Vance Walker out of Georgia Tech. Walker has good size at 6'2" 304 pounds and may become a valuable backup prospect.

With this draft, the Falcons solidified the defense in every position they lacked except for linebacker. It would be hard to fill all the holes they had through the draft but they did a pretty good job of it.

If these defensive additions can improve the 24th ranked defense the Falcons had in 08, then Atlanta may be the team to beat in the NFC.


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