My apologies for being away so long. I attribute it mostly to laziness. Laziness and ketamine.
The Atlanta Falcons are a team that has decided to move on from the Michael Vick Era. Which is a good thing, because Michael Vick is in jail. While it will be difficult to put behind them the multiple Super Bowls and eye popping passing numbers that Vick gave the Falcons over the years, put it behind them they must.
What? Vick never won any Super Bowls? And his passing numbers were among the worst of any active NFL quarterback during his career? You're kidding me. Chris Berman kept telling me he was redefining not just the position but the game. Are you trying to tell me Chris Berman doesn't know what he is talking about? I refuse to accept that.
The Falcons signalled their new era not just by using the third overall pick in the draft to select a new QB, Boston College's Matt Ryan (more on that later), they said goodbye to Vick's favorite receiver, TE Alge Crumpler, running back Warrick Dunn, and corner DeAngelo Hall, who was probably the Falcons' best defensive player, if not always their happiest.
So, getting back to Ryan. His selection was kind of a surprise. I had them taking LSU DT Glenn Dorsey with the third overall pick. The defense ranked 26th against the run last year, and didnt have anyone outside of DE John Abraham who could rush the passer. Dorsey would have helped them with both of those problems.
Coulda but wonta. They decided they wanted to put the period at the end of the Michael Vick sentence, and bring in Ryan. There's nothing wrong with Ryan. By all accounts he's going to be a very good NFL quarterback. The problem is he has one viable receiver, Roddy White, to work with, and little else. Granted, the Falcons now have a pretty nice running back tandem in Michael Turner and Jerrious Norwood to help take the burden off the passing game, but most miserable teams turn it around by building a defense first. It's just easier.
Atlanta had a second first round pick, and used that 21st overall selection to take USC offensive tackle Sam Baker. Baker is quick, agile, and smart, and was a 4 year starter for the Trojans. The only concern with him is that he's seen as a finesse player, but there's really no reason to think he shouldn't succeed. He'll enter the season as the starting left tackle.
Curtis Lofton, the Falcons second round pick, was one of the best of a weak class of inside linebackers. He's got speed and tackling skills, but he's an even six feet is a little small for his position. Franchise mainstay Keith Brooking is the incumbent MLB, but he may be moved outside to make room in the middle for former Sooner Lofton.
The Falcons had 3 third round picks. The first was used on LSU corner Chevis Jackson. The comments I've read on him say he is small and slow. Other than that he's great though. He will compete to fill Hall's vacated spot. The next third round selection garnered Louisville WR Harry Douglas, who had back to back 1000 yard seasons with the Cards, but at 5-11 170 relies wholely on technique. The Falcons hope he can turn into Wes Welker, the way I hope I can someday be the meat in a Reese Witherspoon/Carrie Underwood sandwich.
Their last third round selection was Cal safety Thomas DeCoud. He's raw but has good physical tools, and is seen as someone who can play either corner or safety.
The Falcons are going to be an interesting team to watch in 08, if not a good one. Watching top 10 drafted QB's develop is always fun. I can't think of anything more fun than watching David Carr or Joey Harrington try to live up to expectations. They definitely chose sizzle over steak this offseason, and I wish them luck with that.