I'm not a big grade guy anymore. Because grading is such a rough way of evaluating. Because what are you grading on? Need? Value? Talent? And then without having a good look at what others team wanted, got, and needed, your grade is not too accurate.
Plus teams that get high grades eventually find out their drafts are not as good as initially thought, and teams with low grades often discover their drafts are better than expected.
But with all that in mind, I would say the Falcons get a big fat B-
Not too great, but decent. I think the pros of this draft was that I think we got good talent. All of our picks are talented. Some more than others. But I think all these guys have the ability to fill a niche in the NFL well if not become quality starters down the road. I also think we got pretty good value in this draft, particularly with guys like Boley and Shropshire on Day 2. Boley slipped mostly because he was a speedy linebacker in a draft class full of speedy linebackers. Also his off-season wasn't particuarly strong, when he could have possibly solidified himself as a 2nd round pick, he winds up being a 5th rounder. Shropshire is another mid round guy. A 3rd or so tier DT, but a quality player that most figured would be a 4th/5th rounder. Not because he was exceptionally talented, rather mostly with the lack of a lot of quality DTs in this class, but still that says something.
But where I don't like this draft is that our 3 biggest needs which I outlined (DE, OL, and S) were not significantly addressed. Sure we picked up Davis and Omiyale. But both are developmental guys, probably more so than any of our other picks. Davis has good speed and looks like he has a good chance to be a situational pass rusher right away (mostly because we lack any other decent alternatives), but it's doubtful he will be more than that. Omiyale is a developmental guy that will benefit mostly because the team lacks any serious depth at OT. But he needs to get stronger, and is unlikely to present any significant challenge to Shaffer this year. And he may not even be ready to do much in 2006.
I think ultimately, most people will judge this draft based on how they like the #1 pick: Roddy White. It's true that WR was a need as this team is trying to desperately upgrade their passing attack. But the question is how much White is going to do for that. I'm not saying White is a bad player, but like last year, I think he was a reach in Round 1. Sure, I realize that a lot of teams had him rated in the late 1st around #25-30 or so. But that doesn't mean he's going to be a good player. Teams overvalue WRs so much in this league. Like Jenkins, it would seem that White is a better fit as a #2 guy. The problem is that I don't think this team needs another #2 guy, it needs a clear cut #1. Of course, that's not an easy player to acquire. But I think this is one of those instances where McKay & Co. were keen on getting a WR this year, but they wanted someone that actually had the talent and upside to be a starter quickly, and feared that after Round 1, finding one of those guys would be very difficult. So I think just like they did with Jenkins last year, the team made a reach. If you like the White pick, I think you will like this draft. If you don't, you will hate this draft. If you're similar to me and have no particularly strong feelings either way, then you will feel the same about the draft.
I'm at the point where I'm willing to wait and see. WRs don't do much as rookies as a general rule, so I'm not going to bash White if he doesn't make a signficant contribution this year. My eyes will be more on the likes of Jenkins, in how much he improves (as a 2nd year WR, he has no more excuses) and if Price improves as well. White, unless he surprises, likely won't see the field much this year and may be inactive for half the season unless he can make something happen on special teams (since Jenkins and Finneran are likely to fill that role).
I like Babineaux. I think he'll help the rotation. I'm not expecting him to crack the starting lineup, but I think he can develop some skills behind Coleman. I think he fits in well with our current D-line group, and I respect Bill Johnson to really help him play bigger than he is. I think by 2007 or 2008, he should be refined enough to be Coleman's successor. In the meantime, I think Lavalais can handle the starting job. Which leads to Shropshire, who most likely will back him up. If Shropshire can't beat out Lake, then he was a wasted pick. He looks like a good fit for the NT spot since he can eat space and occupy blockers that is not going to be a great pass rusher, but could get 1-3 sacks in a season if pressed to start. These are two picks that solidify the rotation behind Coleman and Lavalais and probably means that Mitchell will work a lot at DE this year and Travis Hall won't be back.
Now the two linebackers: Beck and Boley. I don't have issue with these two picks because I do believe both can be starters in the NFL. And for the short-term they solidify depth at LB. But one would expect that unless Hartwell/Williams/Brooking fold it in at some point, these guys aren't going to play much over the next 3 years. Boley will likely work at SLB eventually, although he'll probably start at WLB this year. Beck is going to be the backup MLB. So I like adding depth since this was an area that we would probably need to add 1 or 2 veterans after the draft if we didn't in the draft. But these are two players that for the short-term will just be ST guys most likely, and you have to wonder what kind of talent could have been had at DE, OL, and S at these picks.
I don't much about Cobb, but he's a player that some people who have seen him raved about. He looks like the successor to Dunn, but we're going to need a more immediate impact from him than we got from Quincy Wilson last year. Cobb is said to be similar in style to Dunn, which is a plus. But he's going to need more development as a receiver. But his ability as a KR makes you question how much longevity Rossum will have in Atlanta since we now have Cobb and Hall as potential return men. I don't see Rossum going anywhere this year, but next year is a question mark. Just when I finally thought I wasn't going to question if Rossum makes the roster...
But overall, I'm not upset with this draft. I was just really intent on the team addressing those three key needs early on, and I don't think they did.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.