2013 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons spotlight
The Falcons have the ammunition and confidence to make trades over draft weekend, will they move up in the first round?
This is the 30th of a team-by-team series, analyzing five prospects each team should consider in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made a trade in every draft he's directed for the Falcons.
He's made big trades (Julio Jones and Sam Baker) and he's made little ones (trading up for Jacquizz Rodgers and Dominique Franks). There is a report that the Falcons are looking to move out of the 30th spot to move up in the draft. Here's a quick look at some possible trading partners:
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- Former Falcons executive David Caldwell is sitting at No. 2 as the brand new general manager of the talent-starved Jacksonville Jaguars. They could amass some picks to service their many needs.
- Former Falcons executive Brian Xanders is with Detroit. The Lions have the fifth pick in the draft. He was hired in January as a senior personnel executive for the Lions and has been working on a new scouting database. Xanders reports directly to general manager Martin Mayhew. However, there may be some bad blood over the Chris Houston trade, which got a little sloppy over the compensation.
- The Cleveland Browns are sitting at No. 6. However, the old regime that the Falcons fleeced for the No. 6 pick to get Jones in 2011 is out.
- Former Falcons executive Les Snead, and Dimitroff's right hand man for four seasons, is the general manager of the St. Louis Rams and is sitting there with the 16th and 22nd picks in the draft.
- The New England Patriots and Dimitroff former mentor Bill Belichick are right in front of the Falcons at 29.
The Falcons have made it clear that they are a needs-based drafting team under Dimitroff. That means they are not going to sit in their spot and take the best available player. They have needs at cornerback, defensive end, linebacker, tight end and right guard.
They've got their guys identified - FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree or Stanford tight end Zach Ertz - and they're going to try to move up to get them.
Courtesy of team reports published by The Sports Xchange.
Atlanta Falcons 2013 draft picks: 30, 60, 92, 127, 133, 163, 198, 236, 243, 244, 249
Primary needs: CB, DE, TE, OG, LB
General manager: Thomas Dimitroff (seventh season)
Five draft picks that clicked:
-- WR Julio Jones, 6th overall, 2011
-- QB Matt Ryan, 3rd overall, 2008
-- S Thomas DeCoud, 98th overall, 2008
-- DE Kroy Biermann, 154th overall, 2008
-- WR Roddy White, 27th overall, 2005
Five players who should be on the Atlanta Falcons’ draft radar:
Player, school (overall rating, position rating)
CB Desmond Trufant, Washington (23, 3)
With Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes playing elsewhere in 2013, the Falcons have cornerback very high on their list of needs for the 2013 NFL Draft. There is a good chance we'll seem them trade up, but if Atlanta stays at 30 in the first round, Trufant is a likely possibility. He was a four-year starter at Washington and will benefit from his bloodlines as the younger brother of two current NFL defensive backs. Trufant needs to refine his technique as a tackler and in coverage, but is physical and has the feet to stick with receivers up and down the field. He’s not yet a finished product, but there is no question he has the fluidity and competitiveness to be a top-32 selection.
DE Alex Okafor, Texas (57, 8)
The Falcons added free agent Osi Umenyiora to the mix, but still need to add young depth on the edges and Alex Okafor would give them player who is reliable against both the pass and run. He has a productive resume, leading the conference in sacks (12.5) as a senior, and has seen time at both end and inside at defensive tackle. Okafor has violent hands and aggressive limbs to shed with a strong swat-and-rip move and although he isn’t an explosive athlete, he stays controlled in space. Okafor projects as a strongside defensive end in the pros and would give the Falcons a pass rusher to develop.
TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (89, 5)
Future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez is back in the fold for the 2013 season, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Falcons draft his eventual replacement. Escobar is an athletic receiver with the size and length to be a productive downfield pass-catcher in the NFL. He can stretch the seam and make difficult grabs at all levels of the field, showing natural hands and body control to be a reliable weapon. Escobar needs a lot of development as a blocker, lacking the power and technique to be dominant in this area. Ideally suited in a spread look so he can operate from the slot, Escobar is a player the Falcons can get in the third round and develop behind Gonzalez.
OG Jeff Baca, UCLA (145, 8)
Baca is one of the few prospects in this draft class who can boast playing time at every offensive line spot over his collegiate career, starting mostly at guard, but also saw time at tackle and center in some formations. He isn’t the strongest to simply overwhelm defenders, but isn’t shy about shooting his hands into his target, using his long arms and heavy hands to his advantage. Baca will drive coaches crazy with the penalties and needs some work, but he plays with a chip and has the skill-set to provide versatile depth at any interior line spot.
LB Michael Mauti, Penn State (170, 19)
If it weren’t for the durability concerns, we would be talking about Michael Mauti as a possibility for the Falcons in the first round. He is extremely productive on the field, but has struggled to stay healthy with three ACL tears over the past four seasons, the most recent knee injury coming in November 2012. Mauti is extremely smart with the innate ability to sniff out plays and put himself in ideal position to make the play. He wins with hustle and elite instincts rather than explosiveness or speed and is worth the gamble on the third day.
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