After an eventful first two days of the NFL Draft that saw the team trade up in the first round, and select two elite-level cornerbacks, the Atlanta Falcons “settled in” a bit on Saturday, picking six players after entering the day with seven picks.
With their first selection of the day (in the 4th round), Atlanta drafted Defensive End Malliciah Goodman out of Clemson. Goodman is a long-armed guy with a reputation for being quite solid in the run game from the defensive end spot, and he has shown the ability to get to the QB at the college level. The Goodman selection certainly fills a “need” area for Atlanta, as depth at the DE position is severely lacking after Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann, and I liked the pick a lot.
After picking Goodman with the 30th pick in the 4th round, the Falcons picked just six picks later and took a “future” pick in selecting Tight End Levine Toilolo from Stanford. Toilolo is a massive, 6-foot-8 target who won’t run away from anyone at the next level, but could develop into a big-time red zone target down the road. The scouting report on him is one of a better inline blocker than anything right now, but with Tony Gonzalez on board, he won’t be needed in the passing game as a rookie. In the 4th round, this is a nice value.
In the 5th round, Atlanta made their one “move” of the day, trading up 10 spots (in exchange for one of their 7th round picks) with Chicago and grabbing another Defensive End in Stansly Maponga from TCU. As evidenced by his willingness to trade up, this was a big target for Thomas Dimitroff, and he clearly felt there was value in the undersized DE. He has a pure pass rusher, and will be a nice compliment to the bigger, more run-focused pick of Goodman in the 4th round.
Lastly, the Falcons made use of their three remaining 7th-round picks for some pure depth moves. Atlanta drafted back-to-back safeties with their first two picks, as the grabbed Kemal Ishmael (from Central Florida) and Zeke Motta (from Notre Dame) at picks 243 and 244. Both guys are run-stuffers by reputation, but Motta is a player who’s stock dropped violently after he ran a 4.72 in the 40 at the combine. If either guy can cover effectively in the passing game, they could stick, but there isn’t any available playing time at the moment behind Thomas DeCoud and William Moore. The final 7th-round pick was used on QB Sean Renfree from Duke. Atlanta is searching for a quality backup option behind Matt Ryan, and Renfree is a big-time physical talent who could be molded into a solid player. He injured his shoulder late in the season and saw his stock plummet, but if his big arm returns, this could be a nice value selection.
Overall, it was a busy and productive draft for Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons. They addressed their two major “need” areas with two cornerbacks and two defensive ends, and I loved the moves. It is certainly too early to “grade” anyone’s draft, but the Falcons hit a home run for me, and I’ll end this thought with this (as usual). All hail Thomas Dimitroff.