A look at Atlanta heading into the NFL Draft; the Falcons have the 27th pick in the first round.


Record – 13-3 and won NFC South division title.

Playoffs – lost in divisional round of the NFC playoffs to Green Bay 48-21, after getting a week off and home-field advantage in the NFC.


The Falcons have been a winner the last three seasons, after owner Arthur Blank blew up the front office and brought in Thomas Dimitroff to be General Manager, and he turned around and hired Mike Smith to be Atlanta’s head coach. The Dimitroff/Smith Falcons are now 33-17 with two post-season appearances in the last three years.

Another part of the additions was drafting QB Matt Ryan (right) in 2008 and he’s become the face of the franchise. The addition of RB Michael Turner gave them a top notch runner and they plugged in veteran TE Tony Gonzalez in a trade with the Chiefs. The offensive line has been solid.

Defensively, the Falcons do a good job of handling opponents, as they forced 31 turnovers last year. Veteran DE John Abraham had a big season, finishing with 13 sacks. CB Brent Grimes and SS Thomas Moore each had five interceptions. Overall, 13 different defensive players had interceptions.


Offense – averaged 341.1 yards per game (16th in NFL) and scored 42 offensive TDs. Turner led the team in rushing with 334 carries and 1,371 yards. WR Roddy White led the team in receiving with 115 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 TDs. Gonzalez contributed 70 catches for 656 yards. Ryan had 28 TD passes to 9 INTs, passing for 3,705 yards with a 91 passer rating. Ryan finished with a 91 passer rating.

Defense – gave up an average of 332.4 yards per game (16th in the league) and allowed 32 TDs. Defense forced 31 takeaways, topped by 22 interceptions. Abraham had 13 of the team’s 31 sacks. MLB Curtis Lofton was Atlanta’s leading tackler with 118 total tackles.

Special teams – Matt Bryant handles the kicking, hitting 28 of 31 FGs. With the perfect conditions inside the Georgia Dome, P Michael Koenen is solid but not spectacular, with a 40.7 gross average and a 35.6-yard net average. The return game is strong, handled last season by Eric Weems, who had a punt and kick return for touchdowns and averaged 12.8 yards per punt return and 27.5 per kickoff return.


Owner – Arthur Blank, who is involved but seems to back off and allow his football people to make the football decisions.

GM – Thomas Dimitroff, came out of the Belichick/Pioli Clan and has earned NFL executive of the year honors twice in three years. His background in personnel gives him great insight into the draft each year.

Head coach – Mike Smith has three seasons in charge, after coming over from Jacksonville for the 2008 season. Smith’s coaching record is 33-17 with a pair of appearances in the playoffs. Smith’s background is on the defensive side of the ball.

Player personnel director – Les Snead has been with the Falcons for a dozen years, the last two in the PPD role. He’s a former college tight end at Auburn.

Who has the power? – That belongs to Dimitroff.


1. Wide receiver – A quarterback like Ryan needs targets, or certainly more talented receivers on the outside than just Roddy White, who ranks among the league’s best pair of hands. After that it’s Michael Jenkins (41 for 505 yards) but he’ll be 29 and in his eighth year during the coming season. Harry Douglas, Brian Finneran and Eric Weems are also on the roster at various stages of their careers. Since they drafted White in the first round in 2005, they’ve selected four receivers and only Douglas has worked out.

2. Cornerback - The Falcons have dropped a lot of resources into the position over the years, with first-round picks like DeAngelo Hall (’04) and Jimmy Williams (’06) and big free agency money for Dunta Robinson (’10). On the right side, Robinson has that spot but the other side remains unfulfilled. They’ve drafted five more CBs in the Dimitroff Era and the only one who hasn’t gotten a real shot yet is last year’s fifth-round Dominique Franks out of Oklahoma.

3. Defensive end – John Abraham will be 33 in just over a month, and had a comeback year in the 2010 season with 13 sacks. But Abraham is in the last year of his contract and none of the young DEs on the roster have shown the ability to fill his shoes – Jamaal Anderson (2007), Kroy Biermann (’08) and Lawrence Sidbury (’09). In fact those three had just six sacks between them last year.


It’s been 10 starters pulled out of the last three drafts by the Falcons, including the franchise QB in Ryan and the MLB in Lofton. The leaders on both sides of the ball have been huge in getting the on-field performance turned around.

The draft classes before Dimitroff arrived left something to be desired and helped lead to the change in regimes that went on after the ’07 season was completed.

2006: Five players taken and there’s nobody left from this group, including CB Jimmy Williams, the first player selected that year, going in the second round.

2007: DE Jamaal Anderson was the eighth player taken and he’s been a major disappointment with just 4.5 sacks in four years. They hit on 7th-round RB Jason Snelling.

2008: Dimitroff’s first draft hit with Ryan in the 1st-round, starting LT Sam Baker in 2nd and starting MLB Curtis Lofton and starting FS Thomas DeCoud both in the 3rd round.

2009: Top picks have been less than sensational, including 1st-rounder DT Jerry Peria, 16 games last year, just 9 tackles.

2010: Picked up a pair of defensive starters in first two rounds with LB Sean Weatherspoon and DT Corey Peters.

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