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Falcons War Room: Why They Should Draft DeMaryius Thomas

John Reid@JohnReidIVCorrespondent IIIApril 22, 2010

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 28:  Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #8 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets rushes upfield against the Clemson Tigers in the 2009 ACC Football Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on December 5, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

This is Year Three.

This is Year Three of the greatest trio to arrive in the city of Atlanta since the days of Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz.

This is the year in which the wisdom of Atlanta Falcons' GM Thomas Dimitroff , the leadership of Coach Mike Smith , and the talent of QB Matt Ryan begins to bear even greater fruit than in the previous seasons.  Now that Atlanta has removed the blemish of never having back-to-back winning seasons, the focus is now on becoming regular participants in the NFL's postseason. 

One of the greatest joys that an NFL fan can have during each offseason is the hope that their team can make that quick turnaround from also-ran to contender in just one season. The annual NFL draft in April is the first step in making a mere wish become reality in some circles, and that feeling is no different in Flowery Branch with tomorrow night's draft.

The question yet remains: Who should Atlanta draft with the 19th pick in the first round? Who is that one player that can take the Falcons to the next level to compete with the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and their own rival the New Orleans Saints in the NFC?

Many pundits have pointed to Atlanta's poor defensive statistics from 2009 as the culprit that prevented them from making the playoffs. After all, they were 21st in defensive yardage last year, and even worse on third downs, ranking 31st out of 32 teams (only Cleveland was worse) in passing situations. 

Also, with DE John Abraham having a drop in his sack total last year from 16 to 5.5, it has been widely suggested that the Falcons may need to bolster their pass rush.  However, taking a deeper look, I've noticed that Atlanta has already improved not only their passing defense, but their pass rush as well during the offseason.

They will have last year's first round pick DT Peria Jerry (knee) and second round pick S William Moore returning from injuries that ended their rookie campaigns prematurely.  CB Brian Williams , who was picked up in midseason, will also return after suffering a knee injury. 

Add to that the offseason signing of former Houston Texan CB Dunta Robinson , and Mike Smith's defense will already enter the 2010 season with impact starters fom Game One at Pittsburgh.

Although I do believe that Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon and Michigan DE Brandon Graham will be effective starters in the NFL, I don't think that Atlanta needs to go defense this early in the draft.  If they want to become contenders, they need to draft Georgia Tech WR DeMaryius Thomas , and here's why:

Bolsters the Passing Attack

Other than WR Roddy White (85 catches, 1153 yards, 11 TD) the remaining Falcon WRs (Michael Jenkins, Brian Finneran, Marty Booker, Eric Weems) had a combined 63 catches for a combined six TDs in 2009. Thomas immediately gives Matt Ryan a dangerous target that will prevent secondaries from doubling up on both White and TE Tony Gonzalez

Provides Offensive Balance

Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey prefers a run-first attack.  However, last year RBs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood were injured for much of the second half of 2009, and the Falcons' offense became very stagnant.  Thomas helps to take the pressure of opposing defenses stacking up eight men in the box. 

Also, with a schedule that features strong run defenses (Steelers, Ravens, Niners) as well as quick strike pass-first offenses (Saints, Packers, Bengals)  Atlanta must be able to keep up and prevent wear and tear on "The Burner."

Explosive Talent

Despite playing in the spread option offense at Georgia Tech, Thomas managed 1154 yards on only 46 catches.  He put his talents on display when GT needed him most, especially in the ACC Championship Game last December.  He will light up the Georgia Dome field turf. 

Also, with Gonzalez in the twilight of his career as well as Finneran continually recovering from injuries, Thomas provides that young talent that can grow along with Ryan.

No debating about it—DeMaryius Thomas has the kind of talent that Atlanta needs to take not only their franchise quarterback, but their offense, and ultimately, the team to the next level. 

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