Saturday, June 11, 2016

Three Reasons to Love the 2016 Falcons Draft Class

Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Keanu Neal, left, poses for a photo with his jersey and head coach Dan Quinn following a news conference at the football team's practice facility Friday, April 29, 2016, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Yes, the draft class by the Atlanta Falcons was small in numbers just as the 2015 draft class, but the 2016 draft class is held with equal importance, believe it or not. Prior to the NFL Draft, it was frequently noted that General Manager Thomas Dimitroff would have his work cut out for him as the Falcons only held five draft picks and several roster holes to fill. Well in actuality, he sort of did fill those holes. So today, I will present three reason why the Atlanta Falcons 2016 draft class is worthy of optimism. 

  1. A much needed boost of athleticism:

Keanu Neal big hit vs Alabama

Some tend to provide their opinion on whether or not strong safety Keanu Neal was a rich at 17th overall. For the unique defensive scheme that Atlanta's runs, having a solid and well-rounded strong safety is vital. So if he is the next Kam Chancellor, which the reports & film study tends to portray, why not take him, even with needs at DE and LB? With Neal, linebacker Deion Jones (2nd round) and LB DeVondre Campbell (4th round), Atlanta adds three physical defenders with speed and athleticism. 

Deion Jones with a pick six against Eastern Michigan

The defense made notable improvements in 2015 and injecting these three players into a defense that already includes Vic Beasley, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, Grady Jarrett, and Ra’Shede Hageman, Atlanta has their most athletic defense in years. Let head coach Dan Quinn and his staff work some magic and we can see even more improvements in 2016. 

2. Second straight draft with Quinn’s fingerprints:

Austin Hooper with a nice catch vs USC

Going back to his time as an assistant coach at the University of Florida and as a member of Pete Carroll’s coaching staff in Seattle, Quinn has a penchant for finding talent. His first draft as Falcons head coach was vivid in showcasing Quinn’s blueprint for the team. He followed that same suit with another draft in 2016 that shows his vision. He wants to get physical and that is indicated with three of the first four picks. Not only that but adding a skilled tight end in Austin Hooper shows that he wants to get more athletic there as well. 

3. The draft class provides more depth:

Devin Fuller touchdown reception

Another key facet that Quinn has been snoozed on by some is that both the offensive and defensive schemes are predicated by versatility. In the case of Hooper, it gives the offense a tight end that is skilled to be an inline tight end or lined up in the slot. With Jones and Campbell, either one has the fluidity and athleticism to play in the middle or the weak-side. Now Atlanta has other options to keep opponents on their toes on game days.

Eric Robinson (@ERobinsonRSEN)