2011 NFL Draft Grades | Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons headed into the 2011 NFL Draft with few goals in mind. After racing through the 2010 season with a 13-3 record, a division title, and first round bye, only to lose their first playoff game, the team was searching for questions. Namely, the biggest question turned out to be what they were going to do at receiver.
The Falcons made a key decision in the draft to trade all the way up to the sixth overall selection, after previously resting at 27. Making that trade to land a stud receiver instantly improved their offense, while shaking up the entire first round of the draft.
Read on to see how that pick turned out in terms of a grade, as well as the rest of Atlanta’s selections:
Round 1 (Pick 6) - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I love the action with the blockbuster trade to be able to land a stud receiver like Jones. Atlanta did give up a second and fourth round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, which kills the value of this pick, but Jones is so talented that is hardly matters. Atlanta already has Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Now their passing offense is just disturbing.
Round 3 (Pick 91) – Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia
Dent may not land himself a starting gig in 2010, but he certainly has the instincts and control to do so. Dent isn’t a very flashy player, but he wraps up well and makes smart plays around the ball. He’ll compete and participate on special teams at the very least.
Round 5 (Pick 145) - Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Rodgers is tiny and fast, and should look to fill in Jerious Norwood’s old shoes. Rodgers is extremely athletic and versatile, and despite his small stature, is a great value pick considering his pure talent here in the fifth round.
Round 6 (Pick 192) – Matt Bosher, K, Miami
You never like to see kickers getting drafted, but Atlanta is simply being smart here. They’re protecting themselves in case they don’t bring back a veteran, and at the very worst are offering up some healthy competition. Bosher is already accurate, and kicking in a dome will only increase that attribute. Far from sexy, but a solid need addition in the sixth round.
Round 7 (Pick 210) – Andrew Jackson, OL, Fresno State
Pure depth pick here. Jackson is a solid, balanced lineman with some versatility, but I wouldn’t bank on him playing much in his first year.
Round 7 (Pick 230) - Cliff Matthews, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Matthews is an extremely versatile pass-rushing specialist who has the ability to drop into coverage or rush off of the line. He still needs to get stronger and work on being less predictable as a pass rusher, but he has all the tools to become a terror at the next level. How he lasted until round seven is beyond me.
Anytime you make a huge trade that has you losing two solid picks and gaining one elite player, you’re bound to get mixed reviews. But either way you look at it, the Falcons added a major explosive boost to their already stout offense, which could potentially be the difference for them between a long playoff run or an early exit. The solid depth additions across the board with their other five selections kept them at an above average grade.
Overall Grade: B-