Here are some interesting observations about the book that was recommended to me here last week (my sincerest thanks for that, by the way).
1) NFL rookie of the year Shawn "Lights Out" Merriman" did not pass the Falcons Filter.
2) Travis Johnson, oftentimes considered the best DT in the draft, also did not pass the Falcons Filter. I was someone frequently linking him with us in mocks but to my surprise, the team fell in love with Chauncey Davis while they were vetting Johnson. In point of fact, one Falcons scout said they expected Davis to have as productive a career. They genuinely loved him as a player, giving him a strong 5.8+ draft grade.
3) Like draft prospects, every member of the Falcons team currently has a grade like this on the team draft chart. 8.0 is the highest grade possible, but the Falcons are so stringent on their evaluations that the top listing we had at the time of the book was well, you know, Him with a 7.0. The coaching staff is so confident about our starting QB's abilities that they do feel he is capable of eventually growing into an 8.0. 7.0 or above is considered elite while 6.1 or above is considered All-Pro. Note that we are so critical in our evaluations that Kerney was only a 5.9 at first before eventually being bumped up to a 6.2. If we think a prospect is a 6.2, he's ridiculously talented. As you will see in a moment, we obviously think highly of Roddy White.
4) The team does a second form of grading based on two evaluations: worth ethic and game character and personal character. This leads to a second style of graded which we have grown to know as The Falcons Filter. Having read the book, I have a significantly better understanding of what McKay means when he discusses this sort of player. The grading is done by letter with CC indicating a player who meets our criteria to an acceptable degree. I would consider it unfair to describe such a player as being average in these regards since we are so stringent in our evaluations. A CC means a man has acceptable character for the Falcons, which is indicative of a fine human being. Simply making the main Falcons list is an accomplishment given our criteria.
5) Mike Williams and Matt Jones were both considered H-backs/tight end prospects by us.
6) It sounds like the organization is under no duress to select a tight end early in the draft given the presence of Alge Crumpler. We considered Heath Miller and Alex Smith perfect fits in our offense but were never seriously considering drafting either one unless they had pronounced draft day slides. I think it's safe to say that Leonard Pope won't be coming here barring something unforeseen.
7) With our second round pick, the Falcons faced a decision between Jonathan Babineaux and Jordan Beck. The former player was not expected to be on the board with that selection. The choice of Babs demonstrates something important about the Falcons Filter. We do *NOT* use it as a criteria in breaking ties. Had that been the case, Beck would have been the selection.
8) Rob Hunt, a player several of us had speculated perfectly fit the Falcons system, was in fact on our board. He was on the short list for our pick when we took Omiyale. In fact, Anthony Alabi, Hunt and Omiyale, all three of whom we had listed as perfect fits for the Gibbs scheme, went within four picks of one another starting at #162. This tells us that not only do we know how to find a Gibbs player late in the game, we have an impeccable ability to forecast exactly where they will go. Or we were just unbelievably lucky this time.
9) We are so particular in our criteria about players that only 80 guys were even on our red dot board of guys we really wanted. And 10 guys from that list were probably never going to make it to the Falcons. Both Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown were near the top of our board and AA Falcons Filter recipients as well.
10) We are particularly careful in bringing in DBs who fit our scheme's criteria. Only the following players were acceptable CBs: Antrel Rolle, Bryant McFadden (a personal favorite of former DBs coach Maxie), Dominique Foxworth and Justin Miller. We are even choosier with regards to safeties. The only players we felt would fit our scheme were Thomas Davis (yes, we had projected him as a safety), Marviel Underwood, and Sean Considine. That's right. Only three safeties were on our board.
11) The only players we would have considered trading up (to 20 or so) to get were Ware and Davis.
12) Pac-Man Jones, Richie Incognito, Darrent Williams and Odell Thurman were other players eliminated from our board due to character concerns. Also, while the book never clearly spells it, there is an underlying theme that it was Incognito's mouth which nearly cost Chris Canty his eye. Incognito talked the reclusive Canty into going out one night while they were both training together at the combine. The men got into an argument with a drunk at an exclusive club and he threw a bottle which hit Canty in the eye. Canty comes across very well in this book and apparently cleared the Falcons Filter, which is impressive considering how many negative stories there were out there about him last season.
13) The Falcons never thought they had a chance at getting Falcons Filter recipient Ronnie Brown, but they did think that if Tampa Bay passed on Carnell Williams for Mike Williams, they would have an opportunity to see him fall to their range.
14) Rich McKay does a "hot list" of value rankings. We had a grouping of five players considered worthy of #27 overall. Those guys were all local players, David Pollack, DeMarcus Ware, Roddy White, Marcus Spears and Thomas Davis. They were the only guys we would take at the spot. Had they been taken ahead of us, we would have bailed out of the position and selected one of Mike Patterson, Logan Mankins or Chris Spencer. That was the play anyway though as it turns out all three players would have been gone at the end of round one anyway. If forced to select at #27, the choice would have been Patterson or Mankins.
15) The Falcons were enamored of David Green and would have loved to draft him based upon talent and NFL projections. Due to our situation at the position, though, this only would have occurred had he fallen a ridiculous amount until very late into day two. My speculation is that had he lasted until our Boley pick in round five, the staff would have been faced with a tricky decision. Ruskell rendered that irrelevant.
16) Ruskell only saw the defensive side of our board before leaving for Seattle. Yes, Lofa Tatupu was highly rated on it. As McKay quipped, he was the one who fell in love with the player, so Ruskell was stealing his guy. He said it without animosity and seemed perfectly okay with the situation, though. Anyway, the point is that to the best of McKay's memory, he never directly spoke with Ruskell about Roddy White so even though Seattle maneuvered to pick one spot ahead of us in the draft, we felt reasonably comfortable they would not take our guy in that situation.
17) Having read the book, I am deeply impressed by people who get the AA stamp which we have grown to know as true Falcons Filter players. This means that A) I will have to be nicer to Philip Rivers from now on and cool.gif Jordan Beck and Michael Jenkins are truly impressive human beings.
18) The Falcons determine player intelligence through the vetting process. Our scouts are required to interview at least five people who intimately know the player. During these discussions, the scout forms an opinion about how quickly the player assimilates information. We basically ignore the Wonderlic entirely.
19) The prospects the Falcons selected this year had this grading:
Roddy White - 6.2, CC
Jonathan Babineaux - 5.9, CB
Jordan Beck - 5.9, AA
Chauncey Davis - 5.8, CC
Michael Boley - 6.0, CC
Frank Omiyale - 5.7+, CB
DeAndra Cobb - 5.8+, BB
Darrell Shropshire - 5.8-, CC
20) Boley's grade is particularly unique. He's what is termed an elevator player, someone whose status is so up in the air that he has a low floor and a high ceiling. Very few prospects each year receive that grade.
21) To say that the draft went well for the Falcons would be a huge understatement. Prior to the draft, McKay had given himself a realistic draft scenario list. It looked like this:
First round: Roddy White
Second round: Jordan Beck
Third round: Chauncey Davis
Fourth round: Marviel Underwood (SS out of SD State drafted by Green Bay)
Fifth round: DeAndra Cobb
Fifth or sixth round: Kevin Dudley (FB out of Michigan who went undrafted.)
The description in the book is that Babineaux was never expected to be on the board for us at our pick in the second round. He is, in effect, a free player we got for maintaining the integrity of our board. We got a man McKay felt was well worth a first round pick. Then, he showed patience and refused to reach for Beck when a player at a more scarce position, defensive tackle, slid. We did not break the tie based upon character but instead need and scarcity. Due to this, we got Beck, Davis and Cobb a full round lower than we had anticipated. This liberated the team to pick a pure BPA selection in Michael Boley and a Gibbs prototype lineman with our two picks in round five. Afterward, we got a player who made our roster in Kevin Dudley as a UDFA. We had him with an acceptable draftable grade worthy of #163 yet we got him for free. That's a draft day home run to get that much value across the board.