Matt Ryan performed as well as any Falcons fan could have hoped. The Falcons were in absolute turmoil (Mike Vick) heading into the season. Enter Matt Ryan, Atlanta finished 11-5, they were knocked out of the playoffs in the wild card round by the super bowl runner up Cardinals. Michael Turner came running out of Ladainian Tomlinson's shadow in San Diego, he finished with 1,699 yards and proved that he is one of the better backs in the NFL.
Along with Ryan and Turner, Roddy White also had an excellent year. He is a sure handed receiver and provides a deep threat for the Falcons. The Falcons have a very good offense, but lost games last year because of holes on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons took defensive players with their first five picks, lets take a look at some of them.
With the 24th overall pick the Falcons took Peria Jerry DT out of Mississippi. Jerry is very agile for his frame (6'2" 300lbs), he moves well on the inside and shifts to his gap responsibility quickly. He uses his hands well on the line to defeat blockers and find the ball.
Not a lot of negatives with Jerry, sometimes he has the tendency to stand up and get pushed around by bigger lineman but this is something that he will learn quickly. Jerry has the talent to be a presence in the middle for the Falcons right away. His quickness should interrupt run lanes and he has the speed to get after the quarterback. Good pick here for the Falcons.
William Moore safety out of Missouri was the Falcons second pick. Moore is very athletic. He has great instincts and could be a solid cover two situation safety for the Falcons. I said "could" instead of "will" because Moore has some inconsistencies that lead to me not being totally sold on him.
Moore sometimes relies to much on his athleticism and forgets his technique, this can lead to him being susceptible to double moves. Moore also goes for the big crowd pleasing hit too often, leading to missed tackles. That being said, he remained one of the best prospects at safety because teams always feel that that can mold a player to succeed within their system. Moore is athletic enough to make the adjustments to be successful, and has the potential to be a game changer. I just think he might have been a slight reach 55th overall.
Christopher Owens (draft guys with the breakdown) was the Falcons next pick. Owens is 5'10" 181lbs, but plays bigger then that. Owens has a very physical style of play, he likes to be physical with the receivers on the line of scrimmage, and does not shy away from contact at the point of attack. I think that Owens can help right away in passing downs because of his physical style.
Only negative thing about Owens is that he is a smaller player, He plays hard and usually puts himself in a position to make a play. But sometimes he simply gets out sized by larger receivers. This means the Falcons will be careful leaving Chris on an island to defend a wide out one on one. Owens could make an immediate impact for the Falcons within the teams nickel and dime packages.
The Falcons only selected one offensive player (Garrett Reynolds) in this years draft. They needed to sure up their defense and taking seven defensive players is certainly one way to do that. I like Perry with the first pick and think that he can be productive. I am hesitant to commit on Owens and Moore, but they could both turn out to be good picks for the Falcons.
Player to Watch: Chris Owens is a spark plug and if he can learn the system quickly I can see him making some plays for Atlanta. Also, look for Jerry to be productive from day one.
Overall draft Grade: B-
(Draft Party with the Vid)