Atlanta Falcons 2013 NFL Draft Breakdown and Analysis
Atlanta Falcons 2013 NFL Draft Picks
As with many teams in this star-driven, salary cap restricted version of the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons came into the 2013 NFL Draft with needs and choices. The needs were varied, and the choices were driven by money in most cases.
The one thing Atlanta did not need to focus on was skill position players--and it's a good thing since those weren't in any great abundance in this year's crop of players. Atlanta needed interior linemen on both sides, defensive backs, speedy linebackers, and a tight end to eventually take the torch from Tony Gonzalez.
That's a lot to ask in any single draft, and while the Falcons did a lot to fix some issues via free agency, they knew that a lot of their needs would have to be addressed in the draft.
Overall, GM Thomas Dimitroff did a good job of evaluating the best players that were available as compared to his team's needs. The problem of finding some help in the secondary was certainly taken care of, and the Falcons did draft a tight end.
It would seem that on the issue of interior linemen, the Falcons have decided to give the younger players who were drafted in the last two years a chance to make a name for themselves, rather than using more draft picks on the same. This means that players like Garrett Reynolds, Lamar Holmes, Peter Konz, and others are going to have to show Dimitroff this year that they are starting material.
Overall, based on Atlanta's needs, their order in the draft, trades made to move up and players selected, I'd give the Falcons a solid B+ for this draft.
One thing is certain in looking over this list; the Falcons have given commentators some great names to practice on their pronunciation skills.
Here's a look at the Atlanta Falcons draft class of 2013, in reverse order from the last man drafted to the first.
Rd.7 (No.249): Sean Renfree, QB - Duke
You have to carry three quarterbacks in the NFL today, and there's certainly nothing wrong with getting a solid ACC QB in the 7th round of the draft. Sean Renfree played in a similar offense to which the Falcons run while at Duke, and is great at reading progressions. He's got good accuracy and a feel for the pocket. The biggest knock on Renfree has been his inability to avoid injury, suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2009, and then hip, back and shoulder problems over the next few years. A nice pick who should become an adequate backup QB.
Rd.7 (No.244): Zeke Motta, S - Notre Dame
When you are looking at safeties, one of the key factors is durability since this is position which dishes out (and takes) a lot of punishment. Zeke Motta never missed a game nor suffered any significant injuries while playing for Notre Dame, nor did he shy away from delivering a hit. Beyond his toughness, Motta is a fairly average player who could develop into a nice backup and special teams player for Atlanta. Not a "ball hawk" type safety, but a good tackler and who plays smart conservative defense. All in all, a solid player to have learning from Thomas DeCoud and William Moore.
Rd.7 (No.243): Kemal Ishmael, S - UCF
Again looking at the need for defensive backs the Falcons found a thumper of a safety in Kemal Ishmael. A very aggressive DB who plays with an edge, Ishmael became known for some thunderous blows while at UCF. He does struggle at times in coverage, and will tend to improvise to try for the big play, something that the Atlanta coaching staff will have to reign in. Like a few other picks, could make his start with the Falcons on special teams.
Rd.5 (No.153): Stansly Maponga, DE - TCU
If the Falcons were looking to find someone who was going to be a sub-package pass rush specialist, they may have found it in Stansly Maponga, who is a bit undersized and struggles in run defense. However, the TCU product has great speed on the edge, and excellent lateral quickness. He has a great burst at the line of scrimmage, and very quick hands and feet. His motor definitely cranks up a notch when he's standing up as opposed to a 3-point stance. Osi Umenyiora has himself a mentoring project in Maponga.
Rd.4 (No.133): Levine Toilolo, TE - Stanford
The top tight ends--which was a pretty thin position this year--were gone very early in the draft, but the Falcons did find a very athletic and big-bodied one in Levine Toilolo. While at Stanford, he was used inside as a blocking TE and safety valve, as well as lining up outside. Toilolo only has average speed, and has been known to drop passes. His size and vertical leap make him a great target in red zone possessions, however. To plan on Toilolo as being the heir to Tony Gonzalez may be a bit of a stretch, but he brings some skills and versatility that the other Atlanta tight ends don't have.
Rd.4 (No.127): Malliciah Goodman, DE - Clemson
This was probably my least favorite of all the Falcons' picks. Malliciah Goodman is a solid end, tall and lean, but lacks any real size. It's tough trying to find a place on the Atlanta defense where Goodman will fit. He's short on real pass rush skills, and rarely wins the battle with his first move. He does have exceptional speed, but not straight ahead in a pass rush mode. His biggest asset is his strength at the line, where he can stand offensive linemen upright. However, the weight disadvantage that he will face against NFL offensive linemen could neutralize that part of his game. Goodman also has great durability, having never missed a game in four years a Clemson. Not a bad pick, but with some beefy defensive tackles still sitting there in the fourth round, it was a little surprising.
Rd.2 (No.60): Robert Alford, CB - SE Louisiana
I heard a saw a lot of Falcons fans tweeting "Who?" when Atlanta took Robert Alford. It won't be long before that question is answered for them. Alford is a pure athlete with excellent cover skills. Quick to the ball, and with great recovery speed, he'll work nicely in sub packages for Atlanta, and possibly could be looked at in the kick return game. He can be weak at run support, and needs to work on some technique, but his athleticism and work ethic couldn't be ignored by the Falcons. Alford should end up as a starter by 2014.
Rd.1 (No.22): Desmond Trufant, CB - Washington
With the first 1st round pick the Falcons have had since taking Julio Jones in 2011, the Falcons got the guy they had their eye on in CB Desmond Trufant. Many experts had the Falcons picking Trufant even earlier than the 22nd pick, where they traded up to from the 30th, but either way Trufant gives Atlanta the complete package corner they needed to replace Brent Grimes and/or Dunta Robinson. A solid tackler, very good in run support, and with excellent speed and instincts, there is no reason that Trufant couldn't be a starter right away. With the variety of sub packages the Falcons play on pass defense, he'll get significant playing time either way.