2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers The Atlanta Falcons Should Target
5 Late-Round Sleepers The Atlanta Falcons Should Target
After a hugely disappointing season in 2013, the Atlanta Falcons will be hoping to bounce back quickly in 2014. With a large part of the team’s core still in place, the Falcons may be in position to reload quickly and make a serious run at a Super Bowl next season, behind the trio of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White. However, in order to rebound in 2014 and get back on top of a division that sent two teams to the postseason last year, Atlanta must have success during the 2014 NFL Draft and bring in an infusion of young talent to complement the star players they already have in place.
Atlanta didn’t get a lot of production from its rookie class last season, which ended up hurting them when they suffered so many injuries. The Falcons are going to need to get immediate help from the rookies they take in this year’s draft if they’re going to compete in a tough NFC South division. They do pick early in each round because they had such a bad record in 2013, so Atlanta should be able to find a couple of impact players early in the draft, but they are going to need to draft players that can contribute immediately in all seven rounds.
It shouldn’t be hard for Atlanta to find talented players in the first few rounds who fit their needs. However, the Falcons must be able to find late-round sleepers that will be able to contribute in 2014.
Here are five players who will be available in the late rounds that the Falcons should target.
5. DT DeAndre Coleman, California
DeAndre Coleman will drop to the late rounds of the draft because he’s more of a run-stopping specialist than a pass rusher, but the Falcons were second to last in the NFL in stopping the run last year, so they need help in that department. Of all the defensive tackles that’ll be available late in the draft, Coleman is the biggest, and his size is something Atlanta needs to add up front.
4. TE Xavier Grimble, USC
No one is going to replace Tony Gonzalez, but Grimble would be a nice pickup late in the draft. He’s not a downfield playmaker, but he’s a good run blocker and he can be a red zone target in the passing game. Atlanta has too many needs to take a tight end early the draft, so Grimble would give them a viable tight end to take in the late rounds.
3. RB Jerome Smith, Syracuse
Jerome Smith has drawn some comparison to Washington running back Alfred Morris as a guy who could come out of the late rounds to make an impact. He has a powerful frame, deceptive speed and great vision, which will give him a chance to be a quality part-time back.
With Steven Jackson getting older and missing significant time due to injury last year, Smith would be a good player to have as an insurance policy if Jackson gets hurt again, and to audition to be a part of Atlanta’s future at running back.
2. OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
Ryan Groy has NFL size and comes from a school that’s accustomed to producing NFL linemen. Atlanta could use more muscle and depth up front, and Groy is a player who can give them both in the late rounds of the draft.
1. WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama
Injuries at wide receiver hurt the Falcons so much last year, and with Roddy White’s time in Atlanta potentially coming to an end after 2014, adding a wide receiver might not be a bad idea.
Kevin Norwood doesn’t have eye-popping talent, but he’s tall, has good body control, adjusts well to the ball, and has a good understanding of how to play the position. Norwood is well polished and was a productive college player who should become a good complementary receiver in the NFL.