Draft Grades – Atlanta Falcons
I’m going to be looking at the fantasy repercussions of the 2013 Draft and giving out a few grades and rankings. The grades mostly focus on fantasy-relevant positions, but I’ll also be examining overall positional value and strategy. It goes without saying that there’s an informational gap between what the teams have at their disposal and what I have. On the other hand, the great thing about being an outsider is that the informational gap often runs the other direction as well.
No. 20 Atlanta Falcons Grade: C-
The contrast in styles demonstrated by the Pats’ golden era brain trust is fascinating. Belichick loves to trade down. Atlanta’s star GM Thomas Dimitroff aggressively moves up, and former Chiefs strongman Scott Pioli waits for his pick to arrive like a deer caught in someone’s high beams. Dimitroff has dominated the draft with both flair and aplomb in recent seasons. He identifies needs, hones in on the best player to fill those needs, and unabashedly moves into position to get him. When Matt Ryan’s development was stalling, he flouted convention and screamed up the board for a wide receiver with otherworldly physical gifts.
The targets in 2013 were obviously corner, defensive end, and a developmental prospect to groom behind Tony Gonzalez. The results are a little more mixed than usual. He did move into position to take Desmond Trufant, a highly-rated corner who scorched the Combine track with a 4.38 forty and almost unheard of 3.85 short shuttle. Atlanta evidently had him well above Darius Slay (drafted by Detroit at 36).
Dimitroff then doubled up with Robert Alford, one of the draft’s other sub-4.4 corners. It never seems like a great sign when your own college coach claims you’re a long way away mentally, and the overall approach at corner cost the Falcons a chance to make an impact selection at their other positions of need. Neither Malliciah Goodman (DE) nor Levine Toilolo (TE) seems likely to fill the big shoes they inherit any time soon.
While the Falcons have been smart not to overrate the value of slot receivers or scatbacks, they’re one of the few franchises far enough along in the building process to benefit from upgrades in these areas. I talk a little about Jacquizz Rodgers in my piece on Mike Gillislee and definitely do not believe he’s the answer. Meanwhile, Kenjon Barner went off the board at a huge discount to his value and might have been a smart pick when Atlanta selected Stansly Maponga.