Atlanta Falcons Draft

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8


The New Dirty Birds

By: TJ Hartnett news services

This is that special time of year when college football and the NFL collide to create the NFL Draft. Fans of both levels of the sport pay close attention; the college fans for validation of their favorite players and pro fans to see how their teams can improve by addition.

Coming off a 10-6 season with a playoff win, the Falcons looked for pieces to help them get over that hump they have struggled with for the past few years and secure that elusive Super Bowl victory. Did they succeed?

With the 26th pick, Atlanta took wide receiver Calvin Ridley from Alabama. Ridley certainly improves the already potent Falcons offense and could even be considered a secret weapon of sorts. Defenses across the NFL will focus on sorting out what to do about Julio Jones, Ridley could be deployed to great effect. If he can figure out the game at the pro level, he and Mohamed Sanu will complement each other to make a big-time receiving threat for the Dirty Birds after Jones.

Matt Ryan can do some real magic with those three if Ridley can step up. He’s athletic enough to do so and to his benefit he won’t need to be the Falcons number one option.

In round two Atlanta picked up cornerback Isaiah Oliver from Colorado. A curious choice because while Atlanta’s defense needs improvement, those improvements aren’t needed at cornerback. With Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Brian Poole, the Falcons are more than covered there.

He must have caught Thomas Dimitroff’s and Dan Quinn’s eyes, which isn’t a bad thing.

The real need was at defensive tackle, which the Falcons took care of with their third pick in South Florida’s Deandrin Senat.

He fills a dire need in Atlanta and will be relied on right out of the gate. Quinn has already suggested he’ll be slotted into a rotation at nose tackle. He’s big enough to take care of business against the running game and should be quick enough to stifle the pass. The DT pick came two rounds after I think most people expected, but they ended up with what they wanted nonetheless.

Russell Cage from LSU was taken next and he’s ostensibly a wide receiver but with Ridley going in the first round that is likely to change.

Cage transitioned to WR in 2016 after being recruited as a defensive back but is being looked at to serve as gunner, where he also has experience. A player with a lot of weapons and a solid pick four number four.

So, while the Falcons had a clear need at DT going into the draft, in a way they got to have their cake and eat it too. They waited until their third pick to satisfy that need but still managed to get a serviceable piece.

Instead, they went a different direction for pick number one and the rich offense got richer in Atlanta. It was a gauntlet throw down in a way, as the offense took a step back in 2017 after leading the planet with a potent scoring game the previous year.

Steve Sarkisian has an even bigger embarrassment of riches and he’ll need to utilize them to the best of their abilities. To me, this says that the team expects to be back at the top of the offensive heap in 2018 and anything less might be Sark’s head.

Overall, there weren’t any truly huge gets for Atlanta (thought that’s only because Ridley wasn’t as necessary as a DT was), but it’s a solid draft class for what was already a winning team.