Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DBN Fanatics Mock Draft: Pre- Super Bowl Edition

The 2015 NFL season is over and now we begin to focus on the off-season. After an 8-8 season for Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons, the team will look to improve on some of their biggest needs in this year's NFL Draft; however, the Falcons are limited in this upcoming draft. 

Atlanta enters the 2016 NFL Draft without their fifth and sixth round selections, making it a very crucial draft in which the front office and scouting department will aim to nail their remaining picks in a few months. 

Dan Quinn and company are obviously aware that the Falcons lack talent at key spots like the interior of the offensive line, edge rusher, linebacker, and safety, and they'll have a combination of about $30 million in cap space and their five draft selections to patch those holes. 

DBN Fanatics Writers Eric Robinson and Raekwon Gilbert collaborates to give us their first of many mock drafts on which direction the Atlanta Falcons could go in the upcoming draft this April.

Round 1: Jaylon Smith-- Linebacker, Notre Dame 

Jaylon Smith in coverage against Virginia last season

Smith can adapt well in Dan Quinn's 4-3 under defense by playing the mike linebacker and having experience of playing at middle and outside linebacker for Notre Dame. At times, we've seen him cover Wide Receivers and Tight Ends and understands how to play with leverage against receivers that possess more speed than him. One of Smith's biggest attributes would be his athleticism and his ability to read and react against the run and pass. Smith has great size somewhere between 228-234 pounds; but he could definitely add more weight to his frame. There isn't many areas for an linebacker that Smith doesn't have the capability to do. 

Jaylon Smith against Texas
Smith will enter the NFL Draft coming off an ACL tear injury that occurred during an bowl against Ohio State. The good news is just he did not have any nerve damaged and is expected to make a full recovery. Now, I know some fans (including General Managers) would hesitate to select Smith in the first round of the draft but Smith's talent outweighs his injury problems so the Falcons should reap the rewards right ?

Round #2: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive End, Florida (6’3 275 lbs) 

Bullard stopping the run against Ole Miss

An emerging prospect, Bullard is powerfully built. Displays a motor and consistent effort. Bullard has developed skills to disrupt the pocket with power moves and some hand techniques and also has experience of playing multiple spots on the line at Florida 

Bullard earns a sack against New Mexico State

How he fits in Atlanta: One thing Dan Quinn loves is a versatile defensive lineman and Bullard provides another asset to his defensive line rotation. 

Round #3: Karl Joseph, Safety West Virginia

Karl Joesph interception against Georgia Southern

Joseph's biggest attribute is possibly that he's a physical safety, which lots of NFL scouts will want to add to their defense for the future. Joesph possesses the ability to come up in run support and stick his nose in, he's considered a ”Hit stick” type hitter. Joseph also has solid instincts and the ability to read and diagnose plays. In man-to-man coverage, he's able to get his head turned around quickly and make a play on the ball. Joseph is a sound tackler and if trailing the play, applies instincts to make “shoestring” tackles which is something Atlanta's defense has missed for years. Joseph brings a lot of attitude, which teammates feed off of and that's the energy any professional defense would love to have. 
Joseph big hit against TCU in 2014

Joesph's lack of height and his weight is iffy as well. Although he has the ability to wrap up and complete the tackle, he doesn't always apply that discipline when needed. At times, he's not the best defender in zone coverage, seems lost at times and has trouble getting off blocks with opposing linemen due to his size. Joesph is a liability when covering tight ends or big receivers. There is a  concern that his size and hitting ability may lead to numerous injuries at the next level; overall, he could pan out well for the Falcons. 

Round #4:  Jerell Adams, Tight End, South Carolina, (6’6 235 lbs) 

Jerell Adams touchdown reception against LSU

On the surface, Adams’ numbers don’t pop off the page to most. However, I for one don’t believe the numbers reflect his skills. Adams was simply underutilized while at USC. A combination of his height/weight and skills makes Adams a mismatch. If he excels at the combine and workouts, expect to see his name rise. 

Adams touchdown reception against Furman in 2014

How he fits in Atlanta: With the solid play of Jacob Tamme, tight end is not a glaring need but it is a position that was somewhat ignored since the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. Adams can be drafted and learn the ropes as a second tight end and eventually take the starting spot in 2017. 

Round #7:  Devon Cajuste, Wide Receiver, Stanford (6'4, 228 lbs)

Cajuste with a big reception against Notre Dame

Maybe one of the few unheard players expected to join this year's draft, fifth-year Senior Devon Cajuste is a physical specimen at 6-4" and 228 pounds with admiral speed around the 4.6 range. Cajuste has good body control, nice catch radius range, and an understanding of the situation in games.He's also very quick when coming out of his cuts and a good run blocker in space. 
Cajuste touchdown reception in 2013

Having a pick in the seventh round does not mean that you're going to find a valuable starter or consistent role player but it does offers the chances to gamble on the progression of valuable player down the road.  Cajuste is a perfect project with size and athletic. If Dimitroff would like to take a gamble like he usually does, then he would be a perfect match.


Eric Robinson---- @ERobinsonRSEN 

Raekwon Gilbert---- @RxGilbert97

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Falcons Finish the Season 8-8

Well, it wasn’t how we wanted to end the season but it was good game to the end. Last Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons lost to their division-rival, the New Orleans Saints, 20-17 in both team’s season finale. While the Falcons may have ended their season 8-8, they still exceeded expectations made before the start of the season and look forward to improving for the next season.

What were the good things that happened?

-  Devonta Freeman finished the year as first to reach 1,000 yards since Michael Turner in 2012. Freeman had 24 carries for 81 yards breaking him for 1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did fumble the ball in the red zone that killed an successful drive. Freeman's efforts in the ground game helped the team when there wasn't much support behind him, however, his fumble in the fourth quarter did hurt the team’s chances.  Also congrats to Devonta on earning a trip to the bowl for his outstanding breakout season.

-  Matt Ryan had a great game UNTIL his late-fourth quarter interception that virtually ended the game. I mean, he really had a great game besides a few overthrown balls and a critical mistake. He completed 24 on 36 attempts for 334 yards and two touchdowns. It would have been great to see Ryan come from behind and win the game but his decision-making has been questioned all season.

-  Julio Jones needed 246 receiving yards to break Calvin Johnson’s receiving yards record and though he stated that he didn't care about breaking it, he really put on a show. Jones had nine catches for 149 yards and looked completely unstoppable but he did drop a few balls here and there that were catchable balls. Still, Jones showed why he is the league’s best receiver.

- Vic Beasley dealt with injuries throughout the season, but did not use it as an excuse. Defensive line coach, Bryan Cox, admitted to misusing Beasley in the beginning of the season and he continues to impress despite showing up in the stat sheet. If there is anything to look forward to it should be Beasley progress into becoming a great pass-rusher.

What were the bad things?

- Andy Levitre was to supposed to help bring the offensive line to another level in both pass and run blocking, especially in Kyle Shanahan’s zone block scheme. But still it seems to me that he has been nothing but a liability to the team in term of his performance. He committed an unnecessary penalty close to the end of promising drive that really changed the game. I don’t expect the team to bring him back next year.

-  Mike Pearson is done. That’s all that needs to be said.

-  I love Paul Worrilow, but he's nothing more than a reserved player or part-time player. The entire linebacker core has been the Achilles heel of the team and you may see a change coming sooner than expected.


After the game, Jonathan Babineaux was asked on how he felt about the season and Dan Quinn’s coaching philosophy. Babs in response gave an answered, “ With this staff that Quinn has I know that they'll win a super bowl soon”. I don't know how you would like to take that but it does add a little excitement for next year.