Posted on: April 12, 2010 1:13 pm
We're ten days and counting from showtime. It's time for the mock drafts out there to start putting in their final entries - the ones that really matter.
The best one I've seen yet this season was in the Chicago Tribune this weekend. It's not a one-guy-picks-all deal like we'll get from the so-called gurus who don't spend more than ten minutes becoming familiar with any given team. Instead, this one is a collective effort, with the beat writers from local papers around the country representing the teams they cover.
So D-Led made the Falcons pick, Rick Stroud of the St Petersburg Times picked for Tampa, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic made the Cardinals pick, etc, etc. It was compiled by the Trib's Sam Farmer, who did NOT make a pick himself since Da Bears sent their first rounder to Denver last year.
It still has all the flaws of other mocks in that it leaves out trades, is based on voices/opinions from outside team compounds, etc. But at least the people involved are intimately familiar with the teams they are representing. That puts it a step ahead of anything we might hear from Todd McShay, Pete Prisco, Don Banks, Peter King, or Darth Helmet Hair this week.
Spoiler alert... Lindsay Jones of the Denver-Post saved us by taking D-Led's man-crush away from him at #11...
Here are the picks:
1. Rams: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. (pick by Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) "They're doing everything but stitching his name on his jersey."
2. Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska. (Nick Cotsonika, Detroit Free Press) "Suh is the smart, multidimensional and productive player the Lions want."
3. Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma. (Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times) "If McCoy or Suh is there, the Buccaneers will run to the commissioner with the card."
4. Redskins: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State. (Rick Maese, Washington Post) " Donovan McNabb will have someone to protect his blind side, a luxury Jason Campbell didn't often have."
5. Chiefs: S Eric Berry, Tennessee. (Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star) "It's been close to 10 years since the Chiefs have had a playmaking safety in the secondary."
6. Seahawks: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma. (Danny O'Neil, Seattle Times) "His athleticism makes him a better fit than Iowa's Brian Bulaga for Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking scheme."
7. Browns: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame. (Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland Plain Dealer) "The Browns could try to trade the pick, draft Clausen and trade him or draft him and keep him. They also like Colt McCoy."
8. Raiders: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland. (Jerry McDonald, Oakland Tribune) "There's a 50-50 shot they take Campbell, but they'd probably take Trent Williams over him."
9. Bills: OT Brian Bulaga, Iowa. (Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News) "The left tackle position torpedoed the entire team last year. The Bills would be happy to get any of the top guys."
10. Jaguars: ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama. (Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union) "The Jaguars are short on linebackers. Question is, is McClain better than the best defensive end on the board?"
11. Broncos: C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida. (Lindsay Jones, Denver Post) "This is a bit high for a center, but the Broncos don't have one. If they were to line up today, they'd have nobody to snap the ball."
12. Dolphins: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State. (Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun Sentinel) "Dez Bryant is looking for a father figure, and Bill Parcells wouldn't mind being one. The Dolphins need a difference maker at receiver."
13. 49ers: CB Joe Haden, Florida. (Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) "The 49ers need help in the secondary, and their corners aren't great. Haden would be a good pick at a high-profile position of need."
14. Seahawks: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson. (O'Neil) "Seattle is one of four teams not to have a 1,000-yard rusher in any of the past four seasons. Spiller would be an instant upgrade at the position."
15. Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida. (Ralph Vacchiano, New York Daily News) "He's a freakish athlete, and the Giants have some uncertainty at the position, especially with Osi Umenyiora unhappy."
16. Titans: DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech. (Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean) "The Titans are in desperate need of an impact player at the position after losing Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency."
17. 49ers: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers. ( Dan Brown, San Jose Mercury News) "The 49ers sorely need offensive line help, and Mike Singletary's presence will help allay concerns about Davis' character."
18. Steelers: G Mike Iupati, Idaho. (Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) "The Steelers need to start getting some studs on their offensive line, and Iupati certainly is that. He's a safe pick for them."
19. Falcons: OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri. (D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) "With Mike Peterson turning 34, the Falcons need a run-and-hit linebacker who's adept in coverage."
20. Texans: S Earl Thomas, Texas. (Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle) "The Texans really need some help in the secondary, and Thomas has the type of ballhawking skills they could use."
21. Bengals: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma. (Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer) "Tight end is a real weakness for the Bengals. They need a guy who can both block and stretch the field."
22. Patriots: OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas. (Karen Guregian, Boston Herald) "Kindle fits the physical prototype the Patriots like for an OLB/DE. They also like Michigan's Brandon Graham."
23. Packers: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State. (Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) " Al Harris is 35 and coming off reconstructive knee surgery; Charles Woodson is 33. Robinson fills a real need."
24. Eagles: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State. (Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer) "With Sheldon Brown gone to Cleveland, the Eagles need a cornerback who can step right into the starting lineup."
25. Ravens: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State. (Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Sun) "The Ravens need youth on the defensive line, and Odrick would fit right into their 3-4 scheme."
26. Cardinals: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee. (Kent Somers, Arizona Republic) "The Cardinals have been searching for a 3-4 nose tackle ever since Ken Whisenhunt arrived. They need somebody who can hold the middle."
27. Cowboys: OT Charles Brown, USC. (Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) "With Flozell Adams gone, the Cowboys have a hole at the position. Brown not only fills an area of need, but he fits in that draft slot."
28. Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State. (Jay Paris, North County Times) "LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, and the Chargers have a void at running back. They'll hope to get Alabama DT Terrence Cody in the second."
29. Jets: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan. (Rich Cimini, New York Daily News) "One of the problems the Jets had on defense was they had to blitz a lot of guys to get pressure. They need a pass rusher."
30. Vikings: CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers. (Judd Zulgad, Minneapolis Star Tribune) "Depth at corner is a problem for the Vikings, who have had health problems at the position. They really like McCourty."
31. Colts: DT Brian Price, UCLA. (Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star) "The Colts failed in their attempt to get better on the defensive line last offseason. The bid continues this year."
32. Saints: OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU. (Mike Triplett, New Orleans Times-Picayune) "Hughes might be a 'tweener for a 4-3 defense, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will find a way to fit him in."
Posted on: January 2, 2010 10:38 am
The NFLPA has always voiced strong opposition to the salary cap system, and has always insisted that the final year under each CBA be uncapped. The purpose of this is that if no new agreement is reached and a stoppage occurs, the status quo will be without a cap.
The wisdom or absurdity of the union's position is fodder for another time. For now, the key point is that when the owners brought in the cap system, the concession they offered as a trade-off was early free agency. Before the cap system, players had to have six years of service to become true (unrestricted) free agents. Until they reached six years of tenure, they could only be restricted free agents. But with the salary cap in place, unrestricted free agency began after four years of service.
The catch is that since we don't have a new CBA in place for 2011, 2010 stands to be an uncapped year. And when the cap goes, so does the early free agency. So all over the league, guys with four or five years in the league who would become free agents will find themselves RFAs (restricted free agents) rather than UFAs.
Their current teams will be able to tender (offer) them standard one year contracts. There are several levels of tenders. If the tender offer is a higher level, the team will get draft picks as compensation if another team signs that player away. At the highest tender level, the price tag is a first round AND a third round pick.
Also, the current team has the right to match any offer made to a tendered RFA to keep the player. It becomes that team's choice - match the offer and keep the player, or let the other team sign the player away and take the draft picks.
According to several reports, there are currently a total of 212 potential free agents that will be affected. These are players who would become true (unrestricted) free agents if we get a new CBA to restore the cap before March but will drop back to RFAs without a new deal.
Here's the list:
Atlanta Falcons - T/G Tyson Clabo, G/T Harvey Dahl, T/G Quinn Ojinnaka, RB Jerious Norwood, P Michael Koenen, S Charlie Peprah, S Jamaal Fudge.
Arizona Cardinals – SS Hamza Abdullah, FB Justin Green, G Duece Lutui, K Mike Nugent, WR Jerheme Urban and NT Gabe Watson.
Baltimore Ravens – G Chris Chester, WR Mark Clayton, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, SS Dawan Landry, T Tony Moll, TE Quinn Sypnieski, T Terry Adam, CB Favian Washington and WR Demetrius Williams.
Buffalo Bills – OLB Keith Ellison, QB Gibran Hamdan, G Richie Incognito, TE Joe Klopfenstein, SS George Wilson and CB Ashton Youboty.
Carolina Panthers – OLB James Anderson, OLB Thomas Davis, TE Jeff King, CB Richard Marshall and T Rob Petitti.
Chicago Bears – DE Mark Anderson, FS Josh Bullocks, NT Dusty Dvoracek, FS Danieal Manning and OLB Jamar Williams.
Cincinnati Bengals – MLB Abdul Hodge, OLB Rashad Jeanty, LB Brandon Johnson, G Evan Mathis, and DE Frostee Rucker.
Cleveland Browns – SS Abram Elam, LB Arnold Harrison, RB James Harrison, LB D’Qwell Jackson, FS Brodney Pool, LB Matt Roth and FB Lawrence Vickers.
Dallas Cowboys – WR Miles Austin, DE Stephen Bowen, CB Cletis Gordon, DE Jason Hatcher, WR Sam Hurd, T Pat McQuistan, C Duke Preston, G Cory Procter, SS Gerald Sensabaugh, DE Marcus Spears, SS Pat Watkins and K Shaun Suisham.
Denver Broncos – LB Elvis Dumervil, G Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler and DE Le Kevin Smith.
Detroit Lions – SS Daniel Bullocks, C Dylan Gandy, DE Jason Hunter, WR Adam Jennings, G Daniel Loper, FS Ko Simpson and LB Cody Spencer.
Green Bay Packers – SS Atari Bigby, CB Will Blackmon, G Daryn Colledge, FS Nick Collins, DE Johnny Jolly, FB John Kuhn, FS Derrick Martin and C Jason Spitz.
Houston Texans – FS John Busing, T Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, SS Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans and C Chris White.
Indianapolis Colts – WR Hank Baskett, FS Antoine Bethea, FS Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, T Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho and CB T.J. Rushing.
Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Clint Ingram, DT Montavious Stanley and WR Troy Williamson.
Kansas City Chiefs – OB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, C Rudy Niswanger, T Ryan O’Callaghan and FS Jarrad Page.
Miami Dolphins – RB Ronnie Brown and TE Anthony Fasano.
Minnesota Vikings – T Ryan Cooke, DE Ray Edwards, NG Red Evans, QB Tarvaris Jackson, CB Karl Paymah and FB Naufahu Tahi.
New England Patriots – K Stephen Gostkowski, G Logan Mankins and LB Pierre Woods.
New Orleans Saints – RB Mike Bell, T Jammal Brown, G Jahri Evans, DT Tony Hargrove, SS Roman Harper, FS, Hernandez Jones, WR Lance Moore, WR Courtney Roby, T Zach Strief, TE David Thomas and CB Leigh Torrence.
New York Giants – LB Chase Blackburn, G Kevin Boothe, FS C.C. Brown, NT Barry Cofield, CB Kevin Dockery, WR Derek Hagan, WR Sinorice Moss, T Guy Whimper and LB Gerris Wilkinson.
New York Jets – QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, NT Howard Green, G Wayne Hunter, WR Brad Smith, SS Eric Smith, RB Leon Washington.
Oakland Raiders – LB Jon Alston, T Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, QB Charlie Frye, LB Thomas Howard, LB Kirk Morrison and CB Stanford Routt.
Philadelphia Eagles – WR Jason Avant, C Nick Cole, LB Omar Gaither, LB Chris Gocong, CB Ellis Hobbs, G Max Jean-Gilles, TE Alex Smith and RB Leonard Weaver.
Pittsburgh Steelers – T Willie Colon.
San Diego Chargers – LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, C Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DE Travis Johnson, T Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles and QB Charlie Whitehurst.
Seattle Seahawks – LB Lance Laury, P Jon Ryan, G Rob Sims, C Chris Spencer and DE Darryl Tapp.
San Francisco 49ers – G David Baas, LB Ahmad Brooks and CB Marcus Hudson.
St. Louis Rams – DE Victor Adeyanju, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, T Alex Barron, RB Sam Gado, DT Gary Gibson, WR Ruvell Martin and G Mark Setterstrom.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mark Bradley, WR Brian Clark, LB Matt McCoy, T Donald Penn, LB Barrett Ruud, WR Maurice Stovall, T Jeremy Trueblood, RB Carnell Williams and LB Rod Wilson.
Tennessee Titans - DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson and RB LenDale White.
Washington Redskins – QB Jason Campbell, SS Reed Doughty, DT Kedric Golston, LB Rocky McIntosh, DT Anthony Montgomery, C Will Montgomery and CB Carlos Rogers.
Tags: Ashton Youboty, Atlanta, Bears, Bills, Braylon Edwards, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Carlos Rogers, Carnell Williams, Chargers, Charlie Peprah, Chiefs, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Danieal Manning, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Gerald Sensabaugh, Giants, Harvey Dahl, Jamaal Fudge, Jerious Norwood, Jets, Kevin Dockery, LenDale White, Lions, Michael Kownwn, Miles Austin, Packers, Panthers, Quinn Ojinnaka, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Ronnie Brown, Saints, Seahawks, Shawne Merriman, Texans, Titans, Tyson Clabo, Vikings
Posted on: October 5, 2009 5:54 pm
Before the salary cap system began, players didn't become unrestricted free agents until after they had reached six years of league tenure. With the salary cap, that time dropped to four years.
Also, the maximum length of the rookie contract for all players drafted after the first round is four years. (For guys in the first half of the first round, it's six years. It's five years for the back half of the first round.)
Put it together, and it means that the initial contract is the maximum length of time you can count on keeping your drafted prospects. Dealing with that is an interesting aspect of personnel that teams approach in different ways.
One ramification is with the draft itself. Many teams passed on drafting Curtis Martin because the scouts at the time said he'd probably only last a few seasons before wearing out. That didn't stop Bill Parcells from selecting him in the third round for the Patriots. Parcells explained that it didn't matter, because four years was as long as you could count on keeping the guy anyway.
The flip side is that top draft prospects now receive contracts out of proportion with the rest of the league. If the kids need more than average development time, it's a disastrous use of a high draft pick.
The obvious example for the current Falcons roster is Jamaal Anderson, who is in his third season and has yet to show anything to prove he was worth a first round pick. An even better case is Brady Quinn, who is also in his third season. He was selected in the back half of round one (#22 overall), so the Browns only have him for two more years before he's a free agent.
Likewise, Tarvaris Jackson and Brodie Croyle were second and third round selections by the Vikings and Chiefs. Both are still works in progress - but they were both drafted in 2006, so this is year four for both of them. They're free agents at the end of the season, so those teams may end up with very little total return for their first day draft picks.
The other ramification is that since the specific players won't necessarily remain past the first contract, the draft pick should be treated as an asset unto itself. Whether the player ultimately makes it in the NFL is one thing, but if the team can get ongoing returns through trades or free agency, then the GM has done a fine job of asset management.
For now I'll just hit one example, but it's a pretty good one since it ties together the personnel moves of Dan Reeves, Rich McKay and Thomas Dimitroff:
Ellis Johnson was a first round selection by the Indianapolis Colts in 1995. He played with them for seven years but was released in the summer before the 2002 season.
Dan Reeves needed another DT to help rest Ed Jasper. He scooped up Johnson, who then racked up 7 sacks in 2002 and 8 in 2003. (By comparison, all Falcons defensive tackles combined had only 6 in 2007 and 6.5 last year.) Note that Reeves got him as an off the street free agent - picking him up did not cost the Falcons a draft pick or anything in trade.
But Johnson wasn't sure he wanted to play for a rebuilding team under Jim Mora in 2004 and talked about retirement rather than playing another season for Atlanta. New general manager Rich McKay traded him that summer to the Denver Broncos for the ever-popular "unspecified" draft pick, which turned out to be a fifth rounder the following year. (Johnson appeared in 13 games for Denver in 2004, making 16 total tackles with 3 sacks and an interception - and then retired at the end of the season.)
McKay used Denver's draft pick to select linebacker Michael Boley. Boley started 53 of the 64 games of his four year rookie contract and played in every game. He was a defensive star of the horrid 2007 team, racking up 109 total tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes defensed.
He fell out of favor with the new Falcons coaching staff last season and was allowed to leave via free agency. But the story doesn't end there. The Giants signed him to a big enough contract that the Falcons will receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2010 draft. That pick will likely come at the end of the fifth round. (It may end up at the end of the fourth round, but I'm not getting my hopes up too high on that one.) Compensatory draft picks can't be traded, but the team is allowed to trade its own fifth or sixth round picks while keeping the compensatory pick.
So for now, Atlanta has the extra firepower to trade for additional personnel if necessary, and Thomas Dimitroff will have an extra Falcons player in the draft next April. And it all goes back to Dan Reeves scooping up a guy released by the Colts plus Rich McKay talking the Broncos out of a fifth rounder for a guy who was ready to retire.
Posted on: November 13, 2008 10:07 pm
The media has already jumped on the story of Jason Elam and Domonique Foxworth facing their former teams. (Tyson Clabo also started his career with the Broncos, signing with them as an undrafted free agent in 2004. Jamaal Fudge is likely to remain on the inactive list, but he's also a former Bronco.)
But the best story of a player coming back to face a former team goes the other direction... A Falcons staffer told me in preseason that our Birds would probably have won four more games last season if we only had a kicker. I always get a chuckle out of that idea, because we actually had several of them.
First we had Aaron Elling, but we cut him in camp to go with Billy Cundiff. Cundiff kicked extremely well in camp and was rock solid in the first three preseason games. Then, in the final week of preseason, Matt Prater became available. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg had been watching the kid for a while and liked what he saw, and he had GM Rich McKay invite the young kicker in for a workout with the coaching staff.
Petrino never even had him practice with the team. He didn't even watch a complete workout. He simply had McKay sign the young kicker, had Prater kick the final exhibition game (when he had the entire first unit take the night off), and unexpectedly cut Cundiff the next morning in favor of the kid with the tribal armband tattoos on BOTH arms.
Falcon fans remember the rest of the story, though hardly any can even remember the kid's name. Prater was working through a brief period with some mechanical issues. He had pulled one of his three kicks in that final exhibition game. He also pulled one of his two attempts in the first regular season game against the Vikings - but hardly anyone cared, as the game wasn't particularly close, and the Falcons had many other problems to occupy everyone's minds.
But in the second game, against Smitty and the Jags no less, he shanked both of his attempts. Both were from short to middle range, and the Falcons ended up losing the game by... six points. The ever-so-patient hog caller released him immediately, and by that Wednesday Atlanta had once again dragged Morten Andersen back into action.
Meanwhile, the Broncos had a tendency of carrying a second kicker strictly for kickoffs in order to save Jason Elam's leg. (This was what I had hoped the Falcons would have done with Cundiff and Prater.) In midseason, they picked up Prater as their second kicker.
He worked out the mechanical problem he had during his whopping 17-day Falcon career and became their full time kicker after Elam's departure. Today, many Bronco fans claim he's better than Elam.
Mike Shanahan was asked if he's looking forward to seeing Jason Elam again. Shanahan joked of course not - he's kicking against us. I feel the same way about Prater. Rosburg was right. The kid has astounding potential, and Petrino cast him aside after just one bad game.
I'm glad things worked out well for him, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in action again. Considering that Petrino did more damage to Atlanta than General Sherman, Prater was probably lucky to have been set free so early. He missed the misery of the next 12 weeks that followed here in Atlanta (which many of the players compared to a form of purgatory - except worse), and he landed on his feet in a great situation for a young kicker.
Unfortunately for us, the kid has a cannon of a leg. If the Broncos choose to have him kick deep, expect to see the Falcons starting at the 20-yard line after any Denver kickoff. And if anyone in the league right now is capable of kicking a game-winning 60+ yard field goal, my money would be on Prater as the guy most likely to do it.
Posted on: November 13, 2008 12:50 am
Edited on: November 13, 2008 1:02 am
The Falcons will still be without Sam Baker, who will almost certainly be out for at least the next three games. Kindal Moorehead, who sustained a foot injury against New Orleans, missed practice Wednesday. He'll be the main player to watch out for in Friday's injury report. The other noteworthy casualty from the Saints game was John Abraham. He was only partially active in practice on Wednesday. Jason Elam missed the practice session, resting his hip, but at this point isn't considered a cause for concern. The other banged up Birds (Grady, Grimes, Weiner) participated but were kept out of full contact drills. None of them are expected to miss the game.
All in all, the Falcons are in great overall health. The way the coaching staff limited their contact during two-a-days in training camp caused some raised eyebrows, but it seems to have worked very well. In each of the previous three seasons, the Falcons had so many casualties by this point that they were scrambling just to find enough bodies to throw out on the field. This year, Atlanta hasn't lost a single player to IR since the final preseason game, when RB Thomas Brown was taken down by an illegal horse collar tackle. Luck has been a part of it, but improved conditioning is the main factor. Big time kudos to strength and conditioning coaches Jeff Fish, Bill Hughan, and the staff of trainers and medics.
By comparison, Denver will be playing with ten days rest after their Thursday win over Cleveland last week. But even though they'll be well rested, the Broncos will come to the Dome without several key players. Two of their starting linebackers, Nate Webster and D.J. Williams, have already been announced as unavailable due to knee injuries. Starting safety Marlon McCree will also miss the game with an ankle injury. Champ Bailey hasn't officially been ruled out yet, but as of Wednesday he still isn't practicing. He hasn't played since September 14.
The Bronco problems at running back have already been widely reported. Three RBs are already on IR. Selvin Young is still battling a groin injury and is expected to miss the game. That leaves fullback Peyton Hillis as their primary runner, with P.J. Pope (promoted from the practice squad last week) as the #2 runner, and Tatum Bell (re-signed this week - keep an eye on your luggage) as the #3.
Fans on the Falcon message board have likely noted that I've made a theme of stressing how the Falcon defensive line has simply been outsized at times. That was most obvious in the Eagles game. When Grady was off the field, any randomly selected Philly offensive lineman had at least a 30 pound advantage on any randomly selected Atlanta defender. Some of the video was painful to watch, as our guys were simply crushed up front. Life against the Saints was a little easier since New Orleans played without starting center Jonathan Goodwin. His replacement was our old pal Matt Lehr, who currently lists at 290 pounds. When he was here, Lehr couldn't overpower anyone even while he was on the steroids...
This week, we'll face the line that made the cut-based zone blocking scheme famous. If our linemen can survive the cut blocks, they shouldn't be overpowered. Rookie left tackle Ryan Clady lists at 325 pounds, but he's by far the largest of the bunch. The rest of the starting line is Hamilton (290), Wiegmann (285), Kuper (302), and Harris (300).
One item to watch will be how frequently Abraham lines up against Clady vs how frequently he lines up on Harris. Once it's clear which one gives Abraham the greatest advantage, the team will line him up most frequently at that spot, leaving Jamaal as the sacrificial lamb against the better Bronco pass blocking OT.
The middle of the line will also be noteworthy. Grady will almost certainly be double teamed every play that he is on the field. He might be able to power his way between the defenders a few times. If Grady lines up on Wiegmann and Kuper, that will leave Babineaux one on one against Hamilton. They are roughly equal size, with Babs listing at 284 to Hamilton's 290. It could be an interesting matchup. Babs is having a great season as a full time starter, and this will be his first game against undersized starting guards.
But keep in mind that the basic premise of Smith and VanGorder's defense is for the defensive tackles to force double teams whenever possible, giving the linebackers free access to the backfield. If Babs (or Jamaal, moving to the middle) plays effectively, it will be the LBs that look good in the box scores.
Posted on: November 10, 2008 6:01 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2008 9:32 pm
Shortly after the combine, DeAngelo Hall demanded a trade. The Falcons consented. And right after his new team played against these very Falcons, Hall found himself unemployed. He didn't want to be a Falcon to start the season, and it turned out that the Falcons didn't want him back to finish the season.
We rip MeAngelo to shreds on a regular basis on the Falcon message board, but I do have to give him due credit. Going into that Oakland-Atlanta game, he had 3 interceptions (all of the Atlanta cornerbacks combined had only two) and was second in the league in passes defended.
In the meantime, Brent Grimes moved up from the practice squad and has played pretty well. Chris Houston is developing nicely. Chevis Jackson is still making rookie mistakes, but he's progressing well too. But the real treasure came out of a week 1 trade with Denver. It's our new top cornerback, Domonique Foxworth.
With 18 starts and 46 games played in the prior three seasons, Foxworth is by far the most experienced cornerback on Atlanta's active roster. Chris Houston started 11 games as a rookie last season, while Grimes appeared in (but did not start) the last two games of 2007 after interim coach Emmitt Thomas called him up from the practice squad. David Irons played special teams last season, and Chevis Jackson is a rookie this season.
Foxworth was strictly a backup and saw very little action until the bye week, as the coaches waited until he could learn the defense before they threw him in. But he's now listed on the team's depth chart as the starting left cornerback, ahead of Brent Grimes. Grimes hurt his knee late in the game against Chicago. Foxworth has started the three games since then.
In his first three starts as a Falcon, Foxworth has notched 5 passes defensed and has allowed very few completions, becoming Atlanta's most dependable defensive back.
He is a free agent after this season. Under the terms of the trade, the Falcons would have to send their sixth round draft pick to Denver if they re-sign him. There are also reports that the seventh round pick Atlanta traded to acquire him is a conditional pick that could escalate based on playing time.
It should also be noted that Foxworth can play safety. The team should get Von Hutchins back from IR next season. If they can retain Foxworth, the what-ifs for next season's secondary will be really interesting...