Atlanta Falcons Draft Review
By: Chris Horwedel
Selection: 2nd Round: Pick #37
Jimmy Williams (DB) Virginia Tech
Value: Good. Throughout the majority of the season Williams was looked at as a certain (and potentially high) first round selection. It was only issues that came up in personal interviews that pushed him down to the second round.
Fills a need? He does, we're just not sure which one yet. Teams were split as to whether Williams projected to the cornerback or safety position in the NFL. Regardless of which position the team sees him playing (right now it looks like cornerback), he can come in and help right away.
Value relative to surrounding picks? Good. Another player who was considered a first round pick (Chad Jackson) went right before him. No defensive back who was selected after Williams carried as high a grade.
Overall: Nice pick for the Falcons who seem to be developing a direct pipeline to Virginia Tech (they also selected Michael Vick and DeAngelo Williams from Va. Tech). While I do believe that Williams will eventually land at free safety, it's certainly not out of the question for him to turn into a good cornerback.
Selection: 3rd Round: Pick #79
Jerious Norwood (RB) Mississippi State
Value: Fine. This wasn't a sexy pick, but it should prove to be a solid one in the long term. Norwood is a dynamic athlete who can add another weapon to the team's offense.
Fills a need? Kind of. The team already has the underrated Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett at running back in front of him. However, Dunn is getting older and Duckett was a real disappointment last year. The Falcons could view Norwood as Dunn's eventually successor.
Value relative to surrounding picks? Again, fine. The third round pick was a chaotic mixture of reaches, steals and gambles. One thing that drives the value of this pick down in my opinion is that Clint Ingram came off the board with the very next pick and I felt Ingram was one of the more underrated prospects in the draft. Another underrated player, Brian Calhoun, was selected five picks before him.
Overall: As I touched on before, this pick has to be viewed as a selection for the future. Insurance against the aging of Warrick Dunn and/or the continued decline in production of T.J. Duckett. Very average pick.
Selection: 5th Round: Pick #139
Quinn Ojinnaka (OG) Syracuse
Value: Guards are one of the more arbitrary positions to grade, it's very common for a player's stock too vary greatly from organization to organization. Personally, I felt like this was a little early for Ojinnaka (I had him with a late 6th to undrafted grade), but it's not really that much of a gamble at this point.
Fills a need? Theoretically. For a team that likes to run as much as the Falcons do, the players they trot out at the offensive guard position are continually underwhelming. Quinn isn't going to step right in and make a difference, but down the road he could turn into a solid starter.
Value relative to surrounding picks? Honestly, awful. The top of the fifth round saw a number of talented prospects come off the board. Players like Parys Haralson, Jon Scott, Jerome Harrison, Tim Dobbins, DeMario Minter, etc.. were all selected following Quinn.
Overall: Offensive guard selections are rarely "exciting picks" and this selection follows that trend to a tee. With that said, it's possible that Ojinnaka steps into the starting lineup in a couple of years and has a solid career, I just wouldn't bank on it.
Selection: 6th Round: Pick #189
Adam Jennings (WR) Fresno State
Value: Good gamble. Jennings was near the top of my sleepers list. He never got the chance to start at Fresno State but was a solid contributor throughout his career. At this point in the draft you have to be happy in getting a guy that has a chance to be a better pro then he was a college player.
Fills a need? Not immediately. For a team that doesn't throw the ball all that much, the Falcons are pretty deep at the receiver position. Jennings will, at best, be the #5 receiver on the depth chart this year (behind Michael Jenkins, Roddy White, Brian Finneran and Jerome Pathon). Jennings can chip in on special teams right away and could eventually turn into a #3 receiver.
Value relative to surrounding picks? Ok. Jeff Webb came off the board later in the round and is viewed as having a greater upside than Jennings, but it's tough to compare them as the two are different types of receivers.
Overall: This is the kind of pick I can really get behind. If things go right you get a guy who'll be a good solider, play well on special teams and do the little things that help a team win. If things go poorly, then you're sixth round pick doesn't make the team and that's not exactly catastrophic.
Selection: 7th Round: Pick #223
D.J. Shockley (QB) Georgia
Value: Another good gamble. If Shockley had gone to another school where he wasn't stuck behind an entrenched starter, he could have been a much, much higher rated prospect. He should continue to improve as he gets more practice time. Spending a year as the #3 quarterback and leading the scout team could be very good for him.
Fills a need? Not now, but maybe later. Everyone knows that there's a growing number of Falcons fans who believe that the team would be better off by starting Matt Schaub then they are with Michael Vick. In that situation, Shockley could turn into a good #2 quarterback. If it doesn't and he develops, he could be a valuabe chip as a #3 quarterback.
Value relative to surrounding picks? Good enough. Gerrick McPherson or Dee Webb probably came off the board after D.J. and would have been more useful picks in the short term, but this was a good gamble regardless of that.
Overall: As I already mentioned, a couple times, you have to be happy in getting a highly rated college player this late in the draft. Sure, he's no where close to being ready to play in the NFL, but the Falcons aren't going to need him to be ready to play anytime soon.
Sometimes running the Mularkey offense makes me feel like I'm in a prison.