Editor’s note: The post below contains some explicit language.
The immediate Twitter reaction to the Atlanta Falcons’ 1st round draft pick of Florida Safety Keanu Neal was, um, a bit mixed, as Neal’s selection may have ruffled some fans’ feathers (no pun intended) (but man, that would have been a pretty good pun if I had intended it, right?).
But fear not! We at the Rise Up Reader blog on WordPress.com have used our powerful sway over the Atlanta Falcons football organization and brought the one and only Thomas Dimitroff away from his Flowery Branch exercise bike and onto this very blogsite. So not only can Thomas answer fan questions about the Falcons’ 1st round selection, but he can also calmly – as only he can – assuage all of our concerns. So put that tranquilizer gun back in the closet next to your Xanax bottle because all your lingering nerves and stresses are about to drift away thanks to the smooth, dulcet tones of Thomas Dimitroff’s voice. (And by that I mean his voice in written form.)
So let’s get to the Atlanta Falcons Fan Angry Twitter Mob Q & A!
With the start of the 2016 NFL Draft merely hours away, it’s time for one of my favorite pastimes—taking a stab at who I think the Falcons should draft tomorrow night. I’m not expecting to hit on 100% of these picks, I’m simply doing what I would do if I were the GM of the Atlanta Falcons. In this final mock draft of the 2016 season, I wanted to take a look at what a trade back scenario could look like. Atlanta only has a whopping total of five picks in this draft, and if they want to fill out their roster with more talent throughout, they’ll need to acquire more picks. Let’s take a look at how a trade back scenario could look for the Falcons.
Predicting a team’s win-loss record at the release of the schedule can be a tricky task for any prognosticator. Primarily, the draft is still on the way, where teams can either drastically improve or stay the same. Teams still have to strike cohesion in their respective training camps, as well. So, it’s early, but it’s still fun to look down the road.
The Atlanta Falcons have one of the league’s toughest schedules on paper in 2016—it’ll be a fight just about every week, but can the 2016 Falcons improve on last year’s 8-8 record?
The team tried to fix their offensive kinks by adding C Alex Mack and WR Mohamed Sanu to the fold, and they brought in DL Derrick Shelby and LBs Sean Weatherspoon & Courtney Upshaw to aid the defense. They also stand to add a few valuable pieces within the first four rounds of the NFL draft next week (and, fingers crossed, the seventh round and UDFAs turn out well, too).
So, how will the Falcons fare in the fall? Let’s take a look.
Last year, Randy Gregory out of Nebraska was one of the top pass rushers in the draft, and there was talk that he was a top-five talent. Many evaluators even had Gregory as the top pure pass rusher in the entire draft. They said that Gregory had great burst and bend off the edge. Gregory was in the running to be picked by the Atlanta Falcons along with Vic Beasley and Shane Ray, but then his stock started falling fast. He had a failed drug test at the combine and then a story broke out that he may be mentally unstable. This caused Gregory to fall to the second round and get scooped up by the Dallas Cowboys. Gregory was hurt for part of the season, but you could see the talent that he had, and even though he is suspended for the first four games, you can make the case that the talent was worth the pick in the second round.
So, what was the point of that story? Well, this year there’s a situation very similar to Gregory’s, a situation that revolves around Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche is a player that evaluators are saying is a top-five talent, but he has similar questions surrounding his off-field life. Should the Falcons pick the talented Nkemdiche should he fall to them? Let’s evaluate.
New center for the Falcons, Alex Mack, brings what we hope will be “the anchor” of our offensive line. That’s what he was for the Browns’ offensive line through four coaches and the debacle that was Johnny Manziel. With Mack’s price tag of $45 million dollars (28.5 millions guaranteed), some might wonder if he’s worth it—especially since he is 30-years old and will turn 31 during the upcoming season. I’m here to tell you that Mack was indeed well worth it, and here’s why.
With free agency winding down, it’s time for us to start looking forward to the NFL Draft happening later this month. Our Atlanta Falcons did a lot of nice things in free agency, and we should applaud them for making an effort in trying to improve the football team. The Falcons went into free agency with a game plan to improve the team in certain areas, and I believe they accomplished what they wanted to. But, the Falcons still have some unfinished business heading into the draft.
The Atlanta Falcons have completed the first wave of their free agency plan—C Alex Mack, WR Mohamed Sanu, DE/DT Derrick Shelby, and the returned OLB Sean Weatherspoon stood out as new Falcons that will see playing time in 2016.
Now, the team enters the second wave of free agency with a million or two shy of $10 million in cap space (increased by about $5 million in June when the team takes DT Paul Solial’s cap space off the books), and they figure to at least add a few more guys in to compete at the spots on the roster open for competition.
As of now, the weakside linebacker, right guard and strong safety spots are quite literally up for grabs, and the middle linebacker, second tight end and depth defensive end spots could afford new faces for competition.
Below are five guys that could be in Flowery Branch in 2016—three guys have ties to Falcons coaches, and two guys have played well in the past and could use a change of scenery in a place they can compete for a starting role.