2008 Atlanta Falcons (Pre-Combine) Mock Offseason
by Matt Libid
January 25, 2008
It has been a while since I've done one of these things. I'm only forcing myself to do this because I promised you guys I would post a mock offseason once we hired a new head coach. Well, it seems like you want to know what I think of Mike Smith. Was he the best candidate on my list? I don't think so. I was looking for Spagnuolo. We waited this long to hire a head coach, why can't we just wait a week and a half longer? The scouting is mostly done by your scouting company anyways. However, I'm still happy about the hiring. At the date of this write-up, it looks like Mularkey will be our offensive coordinator and VanGordor has been hired as our defensive coordinator. I'd be all for Mularkey being our offensive coordinator, but can VanGordor really coordinate and call plays for this defense? He struggled in college, what makes Dimitroff think he will succeed in the NFL?
Oh well, enough negatives. Now I will post my mock offseason. This was done in roughly one and a half days. The mock draft isn't the most detailed like my previous ones, but I tried my best to do as much as I can with a limited schedule and free time. I also didn't add the cut/resign part and my free agency has only one key signing because I didn't have time to think the contracts out. So if a player isn't on my depth chart, consider that player cut and released. That would mean you as well, Ookie Dookie, Ron Mexico, and Michael VIck. Anyways, without further ado...
-OG Alan Faneca FR/Pittsburgh
This makes the most sense to sign out of any of the free agents. Faneca is on a franchise tag from Pittsburgh and wants to get out of there as quickly as possible. We'll have enough money won from Michael Vick's contract to make a big splash through the free agency, and I think this is the 'splash' we'll all be looking forward to. Mike Smith and Mularkey share the same offensive gameplan with each other, and that is 'Smashmouth Offense'. To those who don't know what that means, it means we will be running the ball... a LOT. We'll have to solidify the entire offensive line this offseason if Mularkey wants to run the ball up the middle any time soon. Faneca is the right man, and he's not too old nor too young.
(1st Round ) DT - Sedrick Ellis - U.S.C.
I'm just guessing we lose the coin toss and end up with the fifth overall pick behind Miami, St. Louis, Oakland, and Kansas. I see these players going in order: Dorsey, C. Long, McFadden, J. Long. That leaves us with no one to draft except... Sedrick Ellis! This defensive tackle from U.S.C. is the kind of defensive tackle that Mike Smith would want in his defense. Mike Smith's emphasized a big man in the defensive line when someone asked him about the draft in his introductory press conference. He wanted a man to 'stop the run' and 'rush the passer'. Ellis is one huge chunk of meat, and the picture alone can show you why he'd be a perfect nose tackle for us.
(2nd Round ) OT - Chris Williams - Vanderbilt
We missed Jake Long in the previous round because Kansas took him. Oh well, we take the next best valued offensive tackle that we can get in Chris Williams. He's a dominant left tackle who can block for the running game very well. Again I will emphasize our gameplan will most likely always going to be RUN THE BALL. Williams is the third best run blocker in this draft behind Jake Long and Jeff Otah IMO. He's yet to prove himself to be a valued first round pick, so he will fall to us relatively early in the second round. We don't pass up on him here having a big hole in left tackle.
(2nd Round FR/Houston ) QB - Joe Flacco - Delaware
I was criticized in a lot of forums for drafting Ainge in the third round and passing on Flacco. I've decided to finally include him in my mock draft. Flacco's big, tall, and has got the body and tools that seems almost perfect for Atlanta. Small school competition and shotgun offense raise concerns, also was a D-1 recruit at Pittsburgh, but transfered because he was never going to beat out Palko. and he's got poor footwork dropping back because he's never had to do so in college. However, it's nothing unfixable. All in all, Flacco can end up being our signal caller here. He's quite certainly the most impressive quarterback this year.
(3rd Round ) RB - Ray Rice - Rutgers
Ray Rice decided to declare this year. Although he wanted to get to the NFL early, I think it was a pretty bad decision for him because he would end up being maybe in the second or third round. Luckily in this mock draft, Atlanta drafted him. The Falcons would be very lucky to grab a solid running back like Rice at this point of the draft. He's proved that he can be an NFL running back in the last game of his NCAA career. Rice is a great selection that I think would almost be perfect with Jerious Norwood and occasionally Jason Snelling.
3rd Round [COMPENSATORY] ILB - Beau Bell - U.N.L.V.
Beau Bell's stock has fallen a tad bit because of his underachieving performances in the Senior Bowl practices and his minor injury during them. I don't think they're really huge, but team scouts will look for every little negative they can think of and bring the other inside linebackers higher in their draft board because of how close all the inside linebackers seem to be in this draft. Beau Bell is a huge linebacker (240 pounds), and Smith has said that that's the kind of linebacker that he wants. Beau Bell is one of the biggest linebackers we would be able to get in this draft, and he's very stout against the run. This would be a great valued draft pick for Atlanta if we draft Bell.
(4th Round ) S - Tom Zbikowski - Notre Dame
Despite a horrible senior season, I'm still ready to take all the hits I would need to if I say that Zbikowski is one of the best Notre Dame defenders ever. Zbikowski has 'leader' written all over him. If I were to choose a successor for Lawyer Milloy, it would be Zbikowski. He's a very versatile safety who makes solid hits and reads the offense very well. His draft stock has had to take its number of hits this year. However, I am still ready to say that Zbikowski is probably the most under-rated safety in this draft. This is my sleeper pick of the draft by the way.
(5th Round ) DE - WR - Dexter Jackson - Appalachian St.
Every thing that Appalachian State has been through this year has been nothing short of incredible and amazing. Dexter Jackson's stock has skyrocketed ever since his punt and kick returns for Appalachian State. Jackson was going to be my sleeper pick of the draft, but I decided to add Zibby in the fourth round, and there goes that. However, I'm still ready to say that Jackson will end up being more important to us than anyone will expect because of his special teams contribution. Jackson's stock will go higher once he shows off his skills and displays them in the Senior Bowl.
(6th Round ) K - Art Carmody - Louisville
We passed on Mason Crosby last year in the fifth round. We had the pick right after Green Bays' three consecutive sixth round draft selections and RIGHT before we drafted, Green Bay selected Mason Crosby from Colorado the pick exactly one pick before us. That greatly infuriated me when that happened. It got me even more annoyed when I saw how well Crosby has played for Green Bay. He is now the next best kicker in the NFL. Art Carmody is the best kicker for us in this draft. We certainly need someone to replace Morten Andersen. Carmody's the most accurate and consistent kicker in this draft, and that's the kind of kicker that we will need for a while now. Enough of the free agent kickers that we always have to bring and then cut in the preseason. A kicker is as important as any other position on the team, if not, more important. Think of the kicker as a closer for a major league baseball team. We will need someone who can kick at clutch moments, and I'd want 'Art-O-Matic' more than any other kicker.
(7th Round ) DE - Tommy Blake - T.C.U.
Defensive line was one of the least durable positions last year. John Abraham hasn't exactly been the most durable player in his career. I'm surprised he was able to play every game last season without having to suffer a serious injury. Although he should be applauded for such a feat for a player like him, I still think we can't trust Abraham to stay healthy. Blake is very much like Abraham, and he can be a solid back up for quite a while. I think he will be well liked in Atlanta because of his mixed speed, pass rush technique, and awareness of the field.
(7th Round FR/Pittsburgh ) FB - Jehuu Caulcrick - Michigan St.
I hate to admit it, but Mughelli hasn't proved he was worth those free agent cash that we paid him in the past offseason. I would still give Mughelli the benefit of the doubt and let him start, but we've still got to think of the future, and I don't think Mughelli will be included in it. He's been almost invisible this year, and I think we need to bring someone in to compete for that starting job. Jehuu Caulcrick is a great blocker. He's just a pure blocker though, and I don't think he can run nor catch too well. This is a very late seventh round pick, so the boom-or-bust factor should not even be accounted for.
QB: Redman | Flacco
RB: Norwood | Rice
| Dunn | Snelling
FB: Mughelli | Caulcrick
TE: Crumpler | Blakely | Milner
WRy: White | Robinson | Jennings
WRz: Jenkins | Horn | Jackson
LG: Blalock | Batiste
C: McClure | Datish
RT: Weiner | Foster | Clabo
Analysis: Obviously, for the quarterback position, we won't be starting Flacco until the EARLIEST Week 8. However, that's unlikely, and he will most likely sit out the entire year just learning the offensive playbook. I've stuck with Leftwich because of his connections with Mike Smith. Norwood and Rice will be our 1, 2, Punch combination this year, and Dunn will just be an occasional type of running back. He will mostly be tutoring and mentoring the young running backs like Rice and Snelling. Mughelli will stay fullback, but I can see Caulcrick be our starting fullback once his contract runs up. I've kept Snelling at both of his respectable positions because I still believe in him. I think he'll bust out next year, and we will become a better rushing team because of Mularkey's playcalling too. With his returning responsibilites taken away, I think Jennings can be a pretty solid wide receiver. For offensive line, Williams will obviously start because he won't need to sit anything out at all. Renardo Foster will be a very good back up. I'd like to keep Datish and see if he can become our starting center by Week 8. I'd still consider him a rookie this year considering he got a season-ending injury last year during training camp and didn't really get the chance to prove anything. However, before Doug Datish was injured, people were talking about him competing for the starting job against McClure, and that definitely shows a lot of heart IMO. I would love nothing more for Datish to start for us when he is ready. Clabo is an offensive guard, but in the past year, due to the serious number of injuries on our offensive line, we were forced to move him to the right tackle, and he did decently. However, I think his true position is at guard, but he still gives us valuable depth on our offensive line which is important to any team looking to solidify their offensive line and prevent injuries from plagueing the team. Weiner is an underrated tackle IMO, and he did well against Carolina's Julius Peppers and Seattle's Patrick Kerney. I think he deserves to stay on this team for just one year at least.
RDE: Abraham | Blake
UT: Coleman | Babineaux
LDE: Anderson | Davis
SLB: Boley | Wilkins
ILB: Brooking | Bell
WLB: Williams | Nicholas
LCB: Hall | Sanders | Grimes
RCB: Houston | Irons
SS: Milloy | Zbikowski
FS: Williams | Stone
Analysis: John Abraham bringing pressure from the right side of the defensive line, Coleman and Ellis stuffing the middle, and Anderson consistently being that run-stopping left defensive end that he is, I think this defensive line can go places. Our anchor lineman will obviously be John Abraham because without him, our defensive line will have no pressure to apply upon the quarterback. Blake will still not be ready enough to take over Abraham's duties until he's a second or third year player. Boley should be re-signed, and I can guarantee you that we will resign him. Beau Bell will sit out a year behind Brooking and will be shown the ropes in the NFL. The following year, Beau Bell will become the starter because I predict Brooking will retire. As for safety, I think Zibby gets the nod at the successor of Lawyer Milloy. However, Stone will still be able to play an important role in the defense as Jimmy William's back up and as the special teams' main gunner. I see Daren Stone as our future special teams warrior, and he's shown what he can do in special teams this year. I think our safety position will have a lot of value once we add Tom Zbikowski who has leadership.
KO: Koenen | Carmody
Analysis: Nothing too special to see here. Carmody will place kick, Koenen will hold and punt, and Schneck will snap the ball. Dexter Jackson will be our new returner now, and he and Zbikowski will share the punt returning duties. Zibby didn't do bad in college returning for Notre Dame, so I think we should take advanntage of that value and make him return some kicks/punts.
There you have it. I hope you guys enjoy, and I'd appreciate any feedback at all. I'm sorry if you disagree, but keep in mind that this is MY mock offseason, and if you want to draft or sign anyone else, make your own respectable topic. I appreciate all the readers. Reply with your opinion as soon as possible. This will be my final mock draft before the NFL Combine. Expect a new one a while after the Combine- maybe a week or two before the NFL Draft.