Atlanta Falcons 2011 NFL Draft Grades


The Atlanta Falcons needed to act quickly this offseason after suffering a disappointing loss on their home field to eventual champion Green Bay, and they started the draft with a bang.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has to be pleased by the results of the draft, and Thomas Dimitroff has one of the best eyes for talent in the whole NFL. This was overall not really a sexy draft by the Falcons after their big move in the first round, but they made a trade that could really put them over the top in 2011…

1. First Round, 6th overall: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

As I sat there watching the draft, when this trade went down I couldn’t stop thinking about how gutsy of a trade it was, and how much I loved the move. Despite giving up a ton of valuable picks to move up and make this happen, I think it was a fantastic trade. Julio Jones is a big play receiver who is going to complement Roddy White in Atlanta’s offense and really put their offense over the top. Matt Ryan now has three legitimate Pro Bowl caliber players to throw the ball to, and one to hand it of to. Jones has everything you look for in a receiver prospect, and he couldn’t have asked for a better situation to go to.

Pick Grade: A++

2. Third Round, 91st overall: Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia

This pick doesn’t blow me away by any means, but it’s a solid pick. The Falcons keep Dent close to home and get themselves a good tackler and someone who can contribute on special teams right away. The hope is that he could eventually develop into a starting inside linebacker with Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon on the outside spots, and he might be able to crack that rotation sooner rather than later. He has good size and instincts, and was very productive for the Bulldogs.

Pick  Grade: B

3. Fifth Round, 145th overall: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

Dimitroff moved up again in the fifth round to select the extremely productive Jacquizz Rodgers, one of the most exciting backs in all of college football over the last few seasons. He will be a third down, change of pace back behind Michael Turner, something the Falcons have lacked with the absence of Jerrious Norwood. I really like this pick, because despite his size (5’6″ 196) he has never been hurt really.

Pick Grade: B+

4. Sixth Round, 192nd overall: Matt Bosher, K/P, Miami

The Falcons struggled to find consistency from the kicker position last year, so they go out and get one of the top guys available in the draft. Bosher really impressed me last year as both a kicker and punter for the Hurricanes. He will probably be strictly a kicker for the Falcons, but it can’t hurt to have both skills. He is accurate, and should provide them with some consistency.

Pick Grade: A

5. Seventh Round, 210th overall: Andrew Jackson, OL, Fresno State

When you are an elite team, it’s because you have depth at key positions. The Falcons have invested a lot in the offensive side of the ball, and they need to protect their most valuable assets. Developing young linemen is a great way to use later round picks. Jackson is a hard-nosed player who can bring some versatility to this offensive line and provide youthful depth.

Pick Grade: C+

6. Seventh Round, 230th overall: Cliff Matthews, DL, South Carolina

Matthews isn’t physically imposing, nor was he overly productive in his career at South Carolina. I think he will be nice camp fodder, but he might not make the final roster. At worst, he could be a practice squad guy with size and upside. He’s a hard worker and could have an impact down the road for the Falcons.

Pick Grade: C

Overall draft grade: B

This draft is all about the addition of Julio Jones. The Falcons got the guy they wanted, and they gave up a ton to get him. I love the move, and I think he could pay serious dividends down the road.