Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Team Grades: Atlanta Falcons

6th Overall Pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

The Falcons were continually rumored to be trading up, but weren't willing to give up everything to get Clowney. They made the right choice sticking here and still being able to grab an elite tackle. Matthews was the consensus top tackle in this draft until Robinson's stock got a big boost in the past few months. The Falcons' main priority had to be getting protection for Ryan, who struggled last year with no blocking up front. Smart pick for Atlanta.


2nd Round: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

I thought Ealy would be the pick, but the Falcons took another falling first round prospect instead. I love Hageman and think he could be a great player in the NFL, but the Falcons signed four defensive tackles this off season. It was one of the few needs they appeared to have completely filled before the draft. Some say he's athletic enough to play defensive end, so maybe that's what Atlanta is planning on doing. Either way, I find it a bit surprising they didn't go with a pure pass rusher, but its hard to argue with taking a first round prospect.


3rd Round: Dez Southward, S, Wisconsin

This is way to early for Southward. He shouldn't have made it into the fifth round, much less the middle of day two. The Falcons are desperate for help at safety, but reaching for a player who probably won't be able to contribute soon isn't the answer. Bad pick.


4th Round: Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

This is solid value for Freeman, as I think he's better than some of the backs taken in the third round. He also fills a pretty big position of need, so this is a solid selection.


4th Round: Prince Shembo, DE/OLB, Notre Dame

The Falcons were rumored to like Shembo, so taking him with an extra pick in round four is a solid choice. He will probably get some playing time early on passing downs.


5th Round: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

The Falcons needed some solid depth at Corner, and this is a good range for Allen. Solid pick.


5th Round: Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse

I wouldn't have been shocked if Spruill went undrafted, so this is too early to take him. He probably would have been available with one of their last picks.


7th Round: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut

I wouldn't have been surprised if Smallwood went in the third round, so this is amazing value. You just have to wonder why they took Spruill two rounds earlier instead of Smallwood right there. They're lucky he fell to them.


7th Round: Tyler Starr, DE/OLB, South Dakota

It's never a bad idea to add a pass rusher in the later rounds. Starr could have gone a bit earlier than this.


Overall, I think this is a pretty mediocre draft for Atlanta. Matthews was a great pick in round one, but they made a number of puzzling selections starting on day two. They got an absolute steal in Smallwood in the seventh round, but there isn't too much else to be thrilled about. I feel like the Falcons panicked with some of their selections.


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