ESPN Scout INC view of the Falcons,interesting!

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ESPN Scout INC view of the Falcons,interesting!

Postby thescout » Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:33 pm

Free safety
There is an abundance of depth despite the fact Atlanta made Cory Hall a cap casualty. Keion Carpenter has re-signed and unrestricted free agents Ronnie Heard and Rich Coady have signed. In addition, Heard should make a smooth transition because he played under head coach Jim Mora when he was San Francisco's defensive coordinator.

However, there is no clear-cut starter. Carpenter missed most of last year because of a knee injury and Heard lacks the range to consistently cover the deep half of the field. Coady is strictly a situational player.

Look for the Falcons to use a first-day pick on a safety who has the speed and cover skills to compete for the starting role. Georgia's Thomas Davis and Oklahoma's Brodney Pool have the natural ability to make an immediate impact.

Left offensive tackle
Kevin Shaffer is a powerful drive blocker who works hard to sustain his blocks, but he is somewhat of a liability in pass protection. Unrestricted free agent Steve Herndon has re-signed and is a versatile reserve who can line up at guard as well as tackle.

The problem is Herndon is an overachiever who lacks the size and athletic ability to develop into an every-down player. Drafting a tackle who has the agility, power and tenacity to eventually replace Shaffer would allow him to move to the No. 3 role, where he should provide great depth. It would also allow Herndon to stay at guard, where there is little depth at this point.

Atlanta probably won't fill this need with a first-day pick because former offensive line coach and consultant Alex Gibbs believes it can find a quality tackle in the later rounds. Florida State's Ray Willis and Washington State's Calvin Armstrong are two possibilities here.

Defensive tackle
Rod Coleman is one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the league and 2004 fourth-round pick Chad Lavalais quickly developed into a quality No. 3. However, Coleman and Lavalais are undersized and tend to wear down when teams consistently run at them.

Having a steady three-to-four tackle rotation is important, and the departures of Ed Jasper and Travis Hall have weakened depth. While Antwan Lake plays with a good motor, he lacks ideal initial quickness and isn't an ideal fit for Atlanta's one-gap scheme.

Look for the Falcons to use a first-day pick on a defensive tackle capable of competing for the starting role opposite Coleman, such as Missouri's C.J. Mosley.

Wide receiver
It would be unfair to place all of the blame for a passing offense that finished 30th in the league last year on the receivers. After all, QB Michael Vick is still learning the West Coast offense and offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp understandably emphasized the run last year.

WhiteHowever, the receivers aren't exactly shouldering their fair share of the load. Dez White's production has been declining the past three seasons, 2004 first-round pick Michael Jenkins hasn't progressed as quickly as hoped and Brian Finneran is a sub-package possession receiver.
In addition, Peerless Price has a retinal disorder that is preventing him from looking balls into his hands, and there is a chance he won't return. It's unlikely the Falcons fill this need in the first round because of Jenkins, but improving the receiving corps should act as a catalyst for Vick's development. Don't be surprised to see them use a first-day pick on a receiver.

DeAngelo Hall, a first-round pick in 2004, and Jason Webster return as the starters, but both missed time with injuries last year. The good news is unrestricted free agent Kevin Mathis has re-signed. Mathis did an admirable job of filling in last year, starting 13 games, and should provide excellent depth.

However, the Falcons made Aaron Beasley, who possesses a good combination of size and strength, a cap casualty, and Mathis lacks the bulk to consistently line up on the outside. While Allen Rossum has also re-signed, he makes his biggest contributions on special teams.

With Hall and Webster having some problems staying healthy, Atlanta should add a corner who has the cover skills and strength to line up on the outside should either sustain another injury.

Defensive end

SmithPatrick Kerney and Brady Smith return as the starters, but Smith is 32 and there is very little depth behind them, as Hall also lined up at end at times. Adding a defensive end with a second-day pick should improve depth and give the Falcons an opportunity to start grooming a possible replacement for Smith.
Outside linebacker
Demorrio Williams appears ready to step into the starting role vacated by unrestricted free agent Matt Stewart, who signed with Cleveland. He shows great burst to the ball and has the athletic ability to make plays in space.

However, depth is somewhat of an issue and Atlanta would like to give him some competition. Although unrestricted free agent Ike Reese has signed, he makes his biggest contributions on special teams, so expect the Falcons to select a linebacker in the middle rounds.

Tight end
Alge Crumpler is one of the best in the league and No. 2 Eric Beverly can push the pile when Atlanta goes to its two-tight end sets, but the No. 3 role needs to be filled. In addition, Beverly is 31 and on the downside of his career.

The priority here will be adding a tight end who has the strength to develop into a quality in-line blocker and is a reliable short-to-intermediate receiver so he can eventually replace Beverly as Crumpler's backup.

Scouts, Inc. watches games

Based on the observation def tackle,receiver and safety will be first day picks.Calvin Armstrong and Ray Willis and possibilities at off line ,don't know much about them.Thought I would share this info with the board!

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Postby Pudge » Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:44 am

I'm not sure about Armstrong and Willis. Although I think toughness is not a concern, neither are as mobile as your typical Gibbs OL. Both seem like RT candidates rather than guys that really should be at the LT. I know Vick is right-handed so that side is no longer the blindside, but considering that they are still typically facing the top pass rushers on the opposing team, you still need good pass protectors there. I do however like the idea of possibly moving Shaffer over to RT. I think that may be his best position in the long run since he's a stronger run blocker than pass protector and seems to a better match for the larger LDEs than the smaller, quicker ones you usually see at RDE. It would seem that if the Falcons strike gold in this draft, they might be able to move Shaffer over as soon as next year, cut Weiner and save a bunch in cap space which they can then spend however they please (which may include signing a FA OT).

I also think they are overrating our need at the DT position. I don't think the Falcons are looking for a starter per se at that spot, but rather a #3 guy. Which likely means that we won't see us use a pick there until Round 3 or later. Now the team won't pass on a good DT early if he's there, but I don't think McKay & Co. are entering this draft thinking they have to get a guy good enough to challenge Lavalais right away. I still think the team plans to bring back Hall, so depth is their major concern.

I also believe the Falcons will put heavy emphasis on the DE spot, more so than these guys indicate. Mora with Andre Carter, Donatell with KGB, and McKay with Rice all know how important it is to have speed off the edge. And from last year, we know that Kerney's play dips significantly when Coleman is out of the lineup so the team can't rely on him to be the main pass rusher. Right now Smith is best served as a 2-down guy, and if all the Falcons get this year is a guy that serves on 3rd downs, then so be it. But I really think that Smith won't be back in 2006, and the team wants to add a guy that can play sooner rather than later.
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Postby VTCDTSYLR » Tue Apr 05, 2005 11:03 am

I think that is why we here a lot of talk about us and Demarcus Ware. He also gets comparisons to Julian Peterson, another Mora type fav. My only problem is what if Ware turns out to be unable to play DE, we have LBs now, will we seriously release Brooking? I don't think so. I guess Ware might be able to bulk up some and maybe DL coach and Kerney can mentor him but I don't know about tweeners unless they are tweening between two simliar skill set positions, DT-DE, or CB-S, or even RB-FB.

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Postby Pudge » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:15 pm

well based on the cap info that me and Chad have been able to find, and my calculations:

Releasing Brooking won't have a positive effect against the cap until after 2006 at the earliest. But most likely that will be negated by some hidden roster bonuses that neither me nor Chad can pinpoint. So in all likelihood, based off his contract, Brooking is locked into being a Falcon at least through 2007. Based on my calculations, the team can save about $3.025 million against the cap if he's released then. That may be reduced by the likelihood he may receive a roster bonus between $1 and 2 million that season. So in simple terms, Keith Brooking will be a falcon for at least the next 3 seasons including this upcoming year.

Based off Demorrio's contract, he is likely to be signed through 2007. Which could mean that the Falcons may have to make a choice at that point. Either to keep Brooking and his high cap figures or give the reins to Williams. Brooking will be 32 at that point, while Williams will only be 27.

Now if you factor in the possibility of drafting a big-time SLB this year, who will likely be signed through 2008 at the very least you have a possibility of the Falcons sporting Williams and said rookie as starters in 2008.

But I don't think the Falcons are looking at Ware as a OLB. I think they see him as a DE that they can work on bulking up. Ware has good strength, and just needs to learn to use his size better against the run. Right now he sports a 6-4/250 frame, and I bet Al Miller & Co. will try to get that up to around 260-265. Ware IMO seems like to much of a project at LB for the Falcons to try and move him there. He would work in the 3-4 as a ROLB, but not in the 4-3 as a SLB. There's a big difference between those two positions.

If the Falcons are looking for a SLB type that can bring pass rush ability, then I think they need to look elsewhere: Darryl Blackstock (UVA), Kevin Burnett (Tennessee), Marques Harris (Southern Utah), Ryan Claridge (UNLV), Kenneth Pettway (Grambling), Rian Wallace (Temple), Jonathan Welsh (Wisconsin) and Nick Speegle (New Mexico). Again, many of those guys would be projects as a 4-3 SLB, but probably are a foot above Ware since most have more experience playing in coverage and standing up.

The Falcons have been reported to be interested in Arnold Harrison (UGA) and Speegle, and I suspect that's because the team wants to get bigger at the SLB position. Harrison (6-3/235) and Speegle (6-5/242) have that, but Harrison looks most likely a ST guy at this point, and Speegle doesn't have great upside to be a top starter and too looks like better depth than anything else.

We'll see, I agree that ultimately Mora is going to favor a Julian Peterson type at the SLB position, and I think Williams is only a temporary fix until we find that person. But it doesn't seem like this year is the year that we will find it.

I agree on tweeners as well. You should only take a tweener on the first day only if you're sure that they can make the transition or stay at one particular position. Ware is a DE, Bryan Scott was a S (although the Falcons were foolhardy enough to believe he could be an effective NFL corner for several months), etc. When it comes down to tweeners, it really becomes about niches. Do you have the niche on your roster for this guy to fill? Robert Mathis is one of those ultimate tweeners, but he fits well in Indy because they use him on 3rd downs as a situational pass rusher. Now this year, there are reports that they will try to begin the conversion of him to a LB now that its his 3rd season in the league. But despite his pass rush skills, Mathis may not have made it in the NFL if he went to another team. Because that other team may have immediately tried him at LB, or full-time at DE, and that wouldn't have been good. It's partially why Nick Rogers has struggled to stick in the NFL this past year. Because too many teams think of him as a DE, while others see him as a LB. He's been moved back and forth. It's why Alonzo Jackson and Nathaniel Adibi have struggled in Pittsburgh making converts to 3-4 OLB. It's really basically looking at your team, and asking yourself do you have the right niche for this guy's current skill set? Converting players right away is usually going to end up in disaster, particularly as you say VT when you move them from positions with different skill sets, like S to LB, DE to LB, TE to OL, RB to WR, etc. those positions are similar, but not the same.
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