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View Full Version : Rick Gosselin - "Quantity didn't mean less quality in draft"


Shiver
04-30-2007, 12:47 PM
LINK (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/columnists/rgosselin/stories/043007dnspogosselin.392d015.html)

NEW YORK Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wanted the management of his football team to do whatever necessary to keep Calvin Johnson home to play his professional football.

Johnson is from Tyrone, Ga., and played his college ball at Georgia Tech. He played it brilliantly, in fact, putting himself near the top of the NFL draft board in 2007.

Johnson won the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best receiver in 2006 after catching 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. Along the way he set Georgia Tech records for career receiving yards (2,927), touchdowns (28) and 100-yard games (13).

Johnson is a special talent and would be quite the drawing card playing his football on Sunday afternoons in Atlanta.

But the Falcons owned the eighth overall selection of the draft, and that wouldn't be high enough to secure a talent the likes of Johnson, who penciled in as the second overall choice behind LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Atlanta would have had to trade up with Detroit, owner of that second pick, to get Johnson. And he was there for the taking if the Falcons were willing to pay a price a very steep price.

NFL sources said the Lions were asking for Atlanta's first, both of its second-rounders in 2007 and another second rounder in 2008. The discussions ended there.

Falcons general manager Rich McKay said any trade "would have wiped out Day One of our draft. This was a draft where we [have] to get players that can start for us, help us win and build a football team. This wasn't a draft that we were going to mortgage the future."

So the Lions would keep Johnson and the Falcons would keep their abundance of draft picks and start the rebuilding process. Coming off a 7-9 season, the Falcons weren't one player away from a Super Bowl.

The Falcons erected quite a foundation for future success with a superb draft that could conceivably produce six starters in the very near future.

Count them: defensive end Jamaal Anderson of Arkansas in the first round; guard Justin Blalock of Texas and cornerback Chris Houston of Arkansas, both in the second; wide receiver Laurent Robinson of Illinois State in the third; linebacker Stephen Nicholas of South Florida in the fourth round; and offensive lineman Doug Datish of Ohio State in the sixth.

Johnson certainly would have invigorated the NFL's 32nd-ranked pass offense. But he wouldn't have been much help on the other side of the football. That's where the quantity of Atlanta's draft came in.

Anderson's pass rush and the coverage skills of Houston and David Irons of Auburn should improve the NFL's 29th-ranked pass defense.

So would the athleticism of Nicholas, who started 50 games at South Florida and made 326 tackles. He has 4.6 speed in the 40 to contribute in coverage, intercepting two passes and breaking up seven others last season.

Blalock and Datish bring experience to an Atlanta offensive line that allowed 47 sacks a year ago. They combined to start 86 games at every position along the line in their college careers.

Datish has started at center, left tackle and left guard, and Blalock has lined up at right guard and right tackle. Datish was a team captain and an All-Big Ten pick. Blalock also was a team captain and was a three-time All-Big 12.

Robinson isn't Johnson, but he brings size (6-2, 199) and speed (4.38 in the 40) to the flank. He's Illinois State's all-time leading receiver and capable of the big play with five career catches longer than 60 yards. He averaged 18 yards per catch in 2006 and 15.7 yards in his career.

Also, the Falcons swiped Georgia's All-SEC tight end Martrez Milner in the fourth round and Irons, a second-team All-SEC cornerback in the sixth.

One pick would have made the Falcons a much better offensive team had they traded up for Johnson. But staying put with their 11 picks should make the Falcons a better football team in the long run.

Sometimes the best trades are the ones that aren't made.

Awesome article.

D-Rod
04-30-2007, 01:53 PM
Love it...

thefalconer
04-30-2007, 01:58 PM
this may sound dumb but anyone think there any possibility that datish can be converted to a LT in the future?

iloxygenil
04-30-2007, 02:02 PM
I don't think so tf.

Shiver
04-30-2007, 02:26 PM
I think Datish may have a chance to be the Center of the future, though.

D-Rod
04-30-2007, 02:55 PM
Yup, he'll have a couple of years to get his strength up, and he's a very technically sound and intelligent player, exactly the guy you want at C. McClure will be a great mentor to him.

More importantly in the short term, Datish's experience and versatility will enable us to carry less OL in the game squad, thereby allowing us more space for ST players etc. (avoiding disasters like Baltimore last year).

iloxygenil
04-30-2007, 02:57 PM
I think he may edge out McClure sooner than we think, He's so much stronger and so much bigger already, he's got the edge physically, but not mentally...yet...it could happen this season...

D-Rod
04-30-2007, 03:02 PM
The fans are the only people who underrate McClure. Many coaching staffs have expressed admiration for the job he does, most notably our own. He'll get up to around 300, maybe a little under, which is respectable for a C.

If McClure has struggled at all recently, it's because he has been covering for that waste of space Matt Lehr for the past couple of years. Thank god that's over. With Blalock taking up the NT by himself, and Forney well able to handle the UT, McClure can focus on picking up LB and clearing up any other mess.

Shiver
04-30-2007, 03:04 PM
Todd McClure is a great Center. He'll be even better now that he can get back up into the 295-300 range, something Gibbs didn't allow. His only problem is he is thirty years old.

D-Rod
04-30-2007, 03:12 PM
Which isn't even that old for a center. He'll start for at least the next couple of years, which would be a perfect learning curve for Datish.

Right now, I actually like how our OL is stacking up - all apart from LT. Please, footballing gods, let Omiyale emerge in glory!! If not, we're looking at two years, at least, of substandard LT protection, because even a 1st rounder next year would take time to bed in. By which time Vick would be 28/29.

Grrr. Shocking that it could take us 8 years to give Vick a proper LT.

ATLDirtyBirds
04-30-2007, 03:15 PM
Before the draft, I probaly would have pulled the trigger. Now that I see who we got, no way.

iloxygenil
04-30-2007, 03:27 PM
if we get a dominant LT he could be productive day 1 because the transition isn't THAT tough for an elite prospect. Don't bring this Gallery BS which is all the fault of the coaching moving him around like mad.

D-Rod
04-30-2007, 03:34 PM
Jon Ogden - started at RG his rookie year.

Joe Thomas - likely to start at RG his first year, by all accounts.

Jammal Brown - started at RT his first year.

Giving a rookie tackle one year to ease into the NFL at a position of less pressure than LT is generally a good idea for their long term development. No, it's not mandatory, but I don't think that even a top-15 LT would be a great NFL LT in his rookie year. It can happen - see McNeill - but it's not something to rely on.

There's not a lot we can do about it, but it's certainly a worry: and one reason why I will be watching out for Frank Omiyale more closely than any other player this preseason. Come on Frank!!

iloxygenil
04-30-2007, 07:33 PM
Why would Joe Thomas start anywhere but LT? He's already there I'm certain of it.

ksfalconsfan
05-01-2007, 05:16 PM
One thing that has to be remembered is that for the Falcons, the RT spot is actually Mike Vick's blind side, so Todd Weiner is actually the crucial and most important offensive lineman.

JeffSamardzijaIRISH
05-01-2007, 07:53 PM
One thing that has to be remembered is that for the Falcons, the RT spot is actually Mike Vick's blind side, so Todd Weiner is actually the crucial and most important offensive lineman.

Not really

ksfalconsfan
05-01-2007, 11:40 PM
Im not saying that the LT position is easier with a lefty QB, because the other teams' best pass-rusher still will line up on that side. However, it isn't basically an automatic sack because Mike Vick can see them coming and throw it away, scramble, or at least protect the ball to avoid a fumble.

D-Rod
05-02-2007, 09:05 AM
It does even it out a little, but they are both still very important. As i said before, it limits the CONSEQUENCES of a breakdown in protection, not the chances of it actually happening. It's still a broken play, just less likely to be a fumble.

Shiver
05-03-2007, 01:20 PM
I just hope Frank Omiyale, or Quinn Ojinnaka have any future. I would kill to have someone beat out Wayne Gandy.

ksfalconsfan
05-03-2007, 04:25 PM
I hope so too, but if they don't I think we definitely need to get a franchise left tackle in the draft next year. We have 2 second rounders, so we can trade up if we have to. Hopefully Jake Long or Sam Baker.

thefalconer
05-03-2007, 09:01 PM
JAKE LONG! dude is a beast.