Ranking the Atlanta Falcons’ 2014 Draft Picks From Worst to First

Falcons' Picks from Worst to First

roger goodell nfl draft
Adam Hunger- USA Today Sports

The 2014 NFL Draft has come to an end, and the Atlanta Falcons made a splash. Going back and looking at the outcome of the event, let's rank the Dirty Bird's draft picks from worst to first.

9. Round 5 (Pick 147)- Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

ricardo allen atlanta falcons
Pat Lovell- USA Today Sports

9. Round 5 (Pick 147)- Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

ricardo allen atlanta falcons
Pat Lovell- USA Today Sports

Not sure what Atlanta was thinking going with Allen in the fifth round. He is undersized at 5-foot-9 and doesn't have the burst and quickness to make up for it. The Panthers drafted Kelvin Benjamin. Tampa Bay brought in the giant Mike Evans to complement the towering Vincent Jackson, and New Orleans signed the big UDFA Brandon Coleman to go alongside Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Allen has a complete physical disadvantage in the NFC South.

8. Round 7 (Pick 253)- Yawin Smallwood, OLB, Connecticut

yawin smallwood
Howard Smith- USA Today Sports

8. Round 7 (Pick 253)- Yawin Smallwood, OLB, Connecticut

yawin smallwood
Howard Smith- USA Today Sports

The Falcons had an incredible draft and rating Smallwood second to last was a tough decision. He was a good, productive college linebacker. However, I feel he lacks the speed and athleticism to excel at the next level. Either way, grabbing him in the last round could turn into a steal for Atlanta. He was a tackling machine at UCONN, so maybe he can transition and be productive at the NFL as well. College and pros are two different games.

7. Round 5 (Pick 168)- Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse

marquis spruill
Matt Konezmy- USA Today Sports

7. Round 5 (Pick 168)- Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse

marquis spruill
Matt Konezmy- USA Today Sports

Spruill was a nice college linebacker, but his coverage skills, size, strength and flexibility are not ideal to that of an NFL player at his position. However, he does play with leadership and intensity, which could find him a roster spot in Atlanta. He could definitely be a factor on special teams.

6. Round 7 (Pick 255)- Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota

tyler starr
Jerry Lai- USA Today Sports

6. Round 7 (Pick 255)- Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota

tyler starr
Jerry Lai- USA Today Sports

Starr was a productive three-year starter at South Dakota. He has excellent size, athleticism and pursuit skills to be a quality pass rusher, but he lacks overall strength to compete against the bigger, stronger and faster of the next level. However, there is always room for growth and development. Starr could end up being a nice option in Atlanta's linebacker corps and an absolute steal as the team's last pick.

5. Round 3 (Pick 68)- Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin

dezmen southward
Jeff Harnisch- USA Today Sports

5. Round 3 (Pick 68)- Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin

dezmen southward
Jeff Harnisch- USA Today Sports

The Falcons were smart to address their safety needs, but I'm not sure if Southward is the right guy. His man coverage and playmaking ability are a bit below average. The fact that he runs a 4.3 but still allows receivers to get behind him tells me that he will need to drastically improve his coverage skills before making a positive impact in the NFL. His speed and athleticism do make him a potential upside, but development is the key.

4. Round 4 (Pick 139)- Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame

prince shembo atlanta falcons
Matt Cashore- USA Today Sports

4. Round 4 (Pick 139)- Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame

prince shembo atlanta falcons
Matt Cashore- USA Today Sports

Shembo lacks ideal size to be the pass rusher that he was in college, but his power and strength are far above average and could help him succeed at the next level. With that strength, his quick burst and explosiveness could make him a solid outside guy. He was not the best linebacker available when he was drafted, but he is a tough, raw player and the Falcons are in need of that intensity on defense.

3. Round 4 (Pick 103)- Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

devonta freeman florida state
Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports

3. Round 4 (Pick 103)- Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

devonta freeman florida state
Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports

For Freeman's small size at only 5-foot-8, he is one of the most physical and agile running backs in his class. I think he's a steal in the fourth round and could eventually develop into a starter. He is an absolute workhorse, and who better to learn behind than Steven Jackson?

2. Round 2 (Pick 37)- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

ra'shede hageman
Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports

2. Round 2 (Pick 37)- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

ra'shede hageman
Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports

Hageman adds a nice plug up the middle as well as excellent pass-rushing potential. He is a converted tight end and former basketball player, so the athleticism is there. Hageman plays angry, and the Falcons are in need of intense players like him. He is a good, solid pick in the second round for Atlanta.

1. Round (Pick 6)- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

jake matthews atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

1. Round (Pick 6)- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

jake matthews atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

The son of Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews is a no-brainer at No. 6 overall. He is big, physical, strong and he's NFL-ready from day one. The Falcons were in desperate need of protection for QB Matt Ryan after an awful season in 2013. Atlanta just found their long-term option at tackle in Jake Matthews. He will be needed against the NFC South's pass-rushing powerhouses, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.


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