Poor Drafts can really hurt a team over the long run. In the past 5 Drafts the FALCONS have only added added 6 starters from their 36 selections. They entered the 2016 Draft with only 6 Picks (8 is average), and made a few strange selections in the process of using those picks. GM THOMAS DIMITROFF could be testing the patience of Owner ARTHUR BLANK, who has an expensive new stadium to start filling, at higher ticket prices real soon. Here’s what they did in this year’s DRAFT.
Round 1 KEANU NEAL/SS/FLORIDA 6’1/211 4.63/40 10 5/8″H/32 3/4″A
NEAL was a fast rising prospect the final month of the Draft evaluation process. HC DAN QUINN was instrumental in recruiting NEAL to Florida back in the day. He projects to in-the-box roles, but is also at least average in his coverage ability. His speed indicates that he may not be the guy you assign to deep coverage very often. The team drafted 2 LB with better 40-times than him. I just hope they tried hard to trade this pick and move back a bit. On the bright side, he should represent a better SS option than anyone else currently on their roster. Will need to clean up his tackling a bit. Right now he goes for the big hit a bit too often. Clearly a reach this early.
Pick # 17 GBN Rank: 45 Ourlads Rank: 152 PP Rank: 41
Round 2 DEION JONES/LB/LSU 6’1/222 4.59/40 9 1/4″H/32 3/8″A
A very productive player in college, who may fit the mold of today’s passing game NFL LB very nicely. He pursued his way to 100 tackles in 2015, but also demonstrated his ability to play in coverage with 1 INT & 3PBU. Consider him a potential 4-down player, which includes Special Teams if they choose to risk him there. If they can protect him blockers he’ll be just as effective as a pro. Note his 40-time speed listed above. EVen though I had him ranked lower than this, I like the pick.
Pick # 52 GBN Rank: 84 Ourlads Rank: 79 PP Rank: 73
Round 3 AUSTIN HOOPER/TE/STANFORD 6’4/248 4.71/40 10 5/8″H/33 3/4″A
You have to luv his big hands and long arms. But he leaves a bit to be desired as an in-line blocker and his speed, or lack thereof, is a bit frightening. I would compare him to another ex-Cardinal ZACH ERTZ/EAGLES, in his overall potential. This team has struggled mightily to replace TONY GONZALEZ at the TE slot. That’s to be expected when replacing a future Hall of Famer, so let’s hope the pressure doesn’t crush HOOPER, who has a good bit of work to do if he is to be a favorite target of MATT RYAN, and soon. Hitting on this pick is a big deal for the FALCONS’ effective use of a TE in their offense. RYAN would surely appreciate a quick development by HOOPER.
Pick # 81 GBN Rank: 75 Ourlads Rank: 95 PP Rank: 68
Round 4 DEVONDRE CAMPBELL/OLB/MINNESOTA 6’4/232 4.56/40 9 5/8″H/33 5/8″A
Make no mistake about it this young man is an excellent athlete, with elite size. He is so long that he looks skinny. But he racked up 92 tackles as a senior for the Gophers. He also recorded 1 INT & 3 PBU. Looked solid at the Shrine venue, but overall did not stand out with play making. This is a pick based on athleticism and potential. His arms and wingspan are almost what one expects from an elite OT. He may be rather quiet as a Rookie, but could emerge in a year or two as a starter if he responds to coaching.
Pick # 115 GBN Rank: 107 Ourlads Rank: 189 PP Rank: 248
Round 6 WES SCHWEITZER/OG/SAN JOSE STATE 6’5/301
I did indeed watch SJSU a couple of times last fall and they were a very mediocre team. SCHWEITZER was their best OL, but didn’t appear to be anything special to me. His college position coach was KEITH CARTER, who is the FALCONS Assistant OL COach right now. Assuming JOHNSON vouched for his ability, and was a large voice in this pick, the kid had best step up or JOHNSON may be banned from the Draft Room at the very least. I don’t see doing much more than hanging around the League for a couple of years as a back-up, at best.
Pick # 195 GBN Rank: 346+ NR Ourlads Rank: 300+ NR PP Rank: 300+ NR
Round 7 DEVIN FULLER/WR/RS/UCLA 6’0/195 4.41.40 9 1/8″H/30 3/8″A
FULLER got somewhat lost in a glut of receivers on the UCLA roster during his college career. With RODDY WHITE gone the team can also use more quality depth, and FULLER might be of help. Note his very good 40-time above. It is also important that he handled Punt & Kick Return chores effectively in college. With DEVIN HESTER getting up in years and rehabbing injuries this off-season this pick makes even more sense for them. With that in mind I have no issue with his selection in Round 7. He may be a nice, multi-piece option at the bottom of their roster right away.
Pick # 238 GBN Rank: 346+ NR Ourlads Rank: 300+ NR PP Rank: 300+ NR
Clearly some members of this coaching staff went out on a limb to get “their guy”. Nice to give people input but when you listen too long and draft guys way before the rest of the football world ranks them you are usually headed for trouble. I sure hope that NEAL works out because my gut tells me they could have traded back into the early 2nd Round, picked up some extra picks and still gotten him. I guess that’s a bit of second guessing, but… This group of players has got to step up and contribute right away for the FALCONS to fight for a Wild-Card Play-Off spot in 2016.