Posted: 8:51 pm Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Thomas Dimitroff grades the Falcons’ draft: ‘An A’ 

By Mark Bradley

Jake Matthews and some other guy. (Jason Getz/AP)

Jake Matthews and some other guy. (Jason Getz/AP)

FLOWERY BRANCH

Thomas Dimitroff concedes that he’ll take a peek at what Mel Kiper and other draftniks think of his work. He’ll also admit that sometimes he doesn’t like what he reads. (One C-minus from Famous Mel really irked the Atlanta Falcons’ general manager.) So as to cut out the middleman, I asked TD the GM what grade he’d assign the Falcons in 2014.

“An A,” he said, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Then: “Well, if this is such a ridiculous exercise (draft grades) we all talk about, I’m going to give you a very candid maybe arrogant response.”

The belief here — and let’s hope that Dimitroff is better at identifying football talent than I am, otherwise we’ve both spent a lot of years in the wrong jobs — is that the Falcons did well if not exceptionally well. They landed their long-sought offensive tackle in Jake Matthews. They got a nice running back in Devonta Freeman. Ra’Shede Hageman could be a starting defensive lineman soon. (And, given that he was taken in Round 2, he’d better be.) Prince Shembo could fit into the linebacker rotation, which figures to grow by one given that the Falcons seem headed for the 3-4, even if coach Mike Smith won’t admit as much.

I would describe that as a good haul but not a windfall. Except for a Day 3 trade of late-round picks, there was no bold move upward. For those who hated trading five picks for Julio Jones, this was your kind of draft — heavy on depth but, with the exception of Matthews, less heavy on guaranteed starters. (Safety Dezmen Southward, taken in Round 3, seemed a reach: ESPN’s Scouts Inc. ranked him the 144th-best prospect; he was taken with the 68th pick.)

I’ve never done draft grades — that’s esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter’s province — but I don’t know if this one’s an A. I can’t say I was dazzled.  I can’t really say I was overly disappointed, either.

From myajc.com: The Falcons take Prince Shembo, and scrutiny will follow.

170 comments
Dman
Dman

B- I thought TD did as well as he could so I give his efforts an A but we didn't get that impact defensive player we really needed unless Hagman turns out to be a star. Overall, we got 4 or 5 quality players who will end up starting at some point in the future and we did fill some of our needs so a good solid draft.

Ackshun
Ackshun

Thomas Dimitroff's arrogance will be his undoing with Atlanta. He is absolutely convinced he made no mistake in releasing John Abraham last year, that more than any other thing motivated the lack of interest in an elite pass rusher early in the draft.  TD is delusional enough to think that if his defense hadn't had injuries the Falcons would have made the playoffs and he is dead wrong.  The Falcons will win more games this year because they are facing a weaker schedule but they will still have a pronounced inability to get to the quarterback. And since Arthur Blank doesn't share Dimitroff's optimistic appraisal of his team selection skills, this may have been his last draft.  In 08 when the new era began we were told we were in a 5 year process to a championship....this is year 7

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

The right side of our O-line should be a wall. Asamoah at RG and Matthews at RT should stonewall most defenders. If you go back to last season, that's where the trouble came from. Garrett Reynolds was awful and Lamar Holmes at RT stunk up the joint. We fixed both positions. Don't underestimate that Asamoah signing in FA. He is a good O-lineman and will give Ryan ample time to find receivers. And nothing else needs to be said about Matthews. Dad's a HOFamer, cousin is All-Pro Clay Matthews, etc. It's in his blood to be great. He will be a Pro Bowler/All-Pro before long. 

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

Hope getting Matthews will be like when they got Kenn....things improved quite a bit back then

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

How do you rate this article?......just kidding


I just feel this is a "B" Draft..due to FS position and feeling that Lawrence was better than Hageman at the time.....but I am pulling for Hageman to be a difference maker.....Freeman was a pleasant surprise....overall glad that they did not trade up and feel they addressed the OL and DL......

BummerBummer
BummerBummer

First round pick of Matthews was a easy correct pick for the Falcons. However, second round pick of Freeman is a question mark at such a early pick. With all the talent that surrounded Freeman at FSU it will be interesting to see how he performs in the NFL where parity exist ever week. Plus, when Freeman was drafted there were faster, bigger, stronger backs on the draft board. Falcon QB Ryan needs blocking protection from RB's as well as O-lineman.

DeeDawgs
DeeDawgs

 Enough already with the whining about the lack of a big trade up on draft day; as in 5 picks for Julio Jones.  Remember we moved all the way up to pick Julio at #6.  We were already there this time Bradley.  We made our trade last year trading losses for wins.

ATL89
ATL89

I like Matthews, but I feel like we should have taken Taylor Lewan over Matthews, he would have given the Offensive Line a much more needed edge or grit.  I also like Freeman, but I feel like we should have picked more of a power RB, Freeman seems like he is a less physical version of Quizz.

Ron49ers
Ron49ers

Problem with Dimitroff,  is he don't know how to trade down to get his guys, He see a player he like and assume  he must be taken as soon as possible. instead of trading down and picking up another player or two. IF your going to reach on a player  at least pick up another pick in the process

nbrdrdnk
nbrdrdnk

If a team is not rebuilding, most rookies won't make the final cut anyway -- maybe the top draft picks and a 'Surprise Cinderella'.  Unfortunately, the Falcon Defense needs a reboot so they needed numbers -- the Free Agent additions better pay off. I had hoped that the Falcons could make a trade to move up -- quantity for quality.  I agree with DLed:  this is at best a C+ draft class.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Dimitroff is the Frank Wren of the NFL.

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Simply stopping after getting Jake Matthews would be worthy of passing grade.  This is going to be a long term success with much positive upside.   We'll have to re-evaluate rest of the picks after 2, 3, 4 years before determining validity.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I would suspect Thomas Dimitroff would think the draft was an A--- he's kind of full of himself. But my grade will come at the end of the year with wins and loses. This schedule won't be easy and I believe 8-8 won't cut it with Mr. Blank. Least we forget they come right out the gate with the Saints and I'm frankly tired of losing to them. Keep in mind that Dimitroff was the same guy that thought he had put together a good offensive line. Maybe the Falcons can get a pass rusher later down the line. Or maybe he thinks what's on the roster will do.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

TD drafted to fill holes and the players from the fourth round up will be expected to step in and fill them. The top three picks need to nail down starting jobs and play competently in 2014 because the holes they fill are huge. If they do, this was a good draft. If they don't, the draft will be roundly and legitimately criticized.

tmc
tmc

This is the first draft i can remember in a long time where the Falcons drafted for "need" over best available throughout the entire draft. I like the fact TD concentrated on the defensive side of the ball for most of the picks. In sheer numbers alone, the defense should be better next year. (i know, i know, they couldn't be worse... but they could be the same, which i don't think they will be)


Logical One
Logical One

I thought the first two picks were excellent, but the round 3 to the end seemed to fall flat. Some possibly good picks but from what i read, the picks, at least for some, were way off base as to timing. For example, taking a player that might have been the 3rd or 4th best available at the same position.  Yes, they are more than likely to get cut but why waste the picks when you could have done something significant with them. Just feel like some of these supposedly valuable picks were just wasted. 

tyger
tyger

Falcons Draft Grade: B


1. Jake Matthews OT - A

2.  Rashede Hageman DL - A


3. Southward - too early, good metrics - C

    (Charles Sims, Brandon Thomas, Andre Williams)

4. Freeman runs hard, prefer bigger backs...B

4. Shembo - didnt like the pick - C

    (Kadeem Edwards solidifies porous OL)


5. Ricardo Allen - small, ballhawk w bigplay ability - B

6. Marquise Spruill - love this pick, urgency - B


7. Smallwood - good value late - B

7. Starr - good value late - B



MikeS777
MikeS777

This was a very good draft for the Falcons.  Keep in mind, they got a couple of big bodies for the D line in FA.  I think they also signed a good O lineman in FA as well.


1)  Matthews was a steal at 6.  No one expected him to drop that low.

2)  Hageman was supposed to go in the first round by most accounts.  He didn't, so thats another steal in my book.  A big 300 lb body to put on the line with Umenyiora and the FA pickups and Biermann should be back.

3)  Moving to the 3-4, you need LBs that can get after the QB.  Thats exactly what they got in the later rounds.  They got a couple that are pretty much rail guns you line up, point at the QB, and cut them loose.

4)  They got a couple of hard hitters in the defensive backfield.  There is questions on size from the corner, but neither one are afraid to make the big hit.

5)  They got a big RB who might be able to develop into Jackson's eventual replacement.

I said they need to sellout on the lines, and get tougher.  I think that's exactly what they did in this draft.

ATLfaninVA
ATLfaninVA

I like Matthews, Hageman, Freeman and Southward. I know Southward was rated much lower, but if he reaches his potential, he could be a solid starting Safety for the Falcons. He won't have a chance to be lazy with Moore back there with him. Moore will get in his *** on the field if he's not "getting after it". I did think Atlanta would have grabbed Jamea Thomas, who didn't get drafted until the 6th round by the Patriots. I thought that would have been a good pick up, but hopefully Southward turns out to be better. Other than that, not bad. I would say a solid B…but not an A. None of us know how these players will pan out. For those saying these were bad picks, you honestly have no idea. Same goes for those saying they were great picks. Everyone jumped on the Cleveland band-wagon years ago when they traded back into the 1st to grab Quinn (seems eerily familiar to what they did with Manziel). We'll see what happens. I honestly think this draft class deserves a B, if for no other reason, TD actually drafted off of NEEDS. Atlanta sorely needed help on O and D lines, and he did that. They needed a Safety and LBs…he did that. Another RB was needed with the retirement of Snelling…he did that. This was the first time I remember him truly drafting off of needs…so with me, he gets a good grade.

NCDawg
NCDawg

It was a solid B with a possible A- if Hageman contributes early and well.  I would have liked to have seen a pass rush specialist taken.  What Houston wanted for the 1st overall was way out of bounds.  As always time will tell but on first blush it was a good draft.

RandyFalcon
RandyFalcon

I'll give it a B+. I do think we got better as a team. We threw out the Falcon filter with the Shembo pick.

thebugman10
thebugman10

I'll give the Falcons a "B". Like the Matthews pick, maybe now Ryan won't be on the ground every play. Still think we should've went DE/OLB in the 2nd round (maybe Attaochu). Didn't really see the need for running back in this draft.

jrob1234
jrob1234

I gave myself the same grade in shop class. The teacher disagreed. 

LessIsMore
LessIsMore

Gave the Falcons a C+.  Rashede Hageman pick was questionable with the resigning of Jerry, Peters, & Babs.  D-line did get younger.  Thought Attaochu or Ealy would have been better picks.  Safety pick was very shaky - Southward better be Ed Reed or it this will be a fail.  Small corner was a questionable pick when there were better corners on the draft board.  Character issues with Shembo but he's tough. Freeman pick was ok but also thought there were better RBs.  I did like the Yarwin Smallwood pick,  he was a sleeper on many draft boards.  Spruill pick is shaky but he is fast.  That 3-4 hybrid defense requires linebackers to edge rush.  Thus so many linebackers.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

You take a test, turn it in, get it graded, then you get the result.  Wait 3 years until the grading is done.  As far as grading, "Did the Falcons draft someone in each round, as was predetermined?"  They did.  What does that matter?  Maybe if they did not use up all 10 minutes on the clock each time?  I agree with Dimmy.  In three years everyone could be playing in Pro Bowls (a worthless game), everyone could be injured and suing the league for not caring about them, or everyone could be so-so, a little spark of greatness, or a lazy good-for-nothing.  That is when you grade a draft.  As for Bradley being in a profession that needs to be able to judge the talent of ball players, that is a good laugh.

RogerHenslee
RogerHenslee

Not saying there aren't some good players in this draft hail but other than Jake M at #1 I disagree with every pick(I get that round two was actually value, I just think that a greater need could have been filled with an equal talent.)..either reached for a guy that could have been gotten a few rounds later, or chose someone that just wont be in the NFL in a 6 months to two years

Hope Im wrong!

fansince74
fansince74

Considering the additions in free agency coupled with the pick of Ra’Shede Hageman, the D-line has gotten much better. The same can be said for the O-line. I definitely liked the pick of Freeman. As for the linebackers and the two secondary placers, we'll have to wait and see. If Southward and at least one of the LB's turn out to be really good, then this draft was definitely an A. Only time will tell. 


suave61
suave61

Where's the beef (big DE's & DT's) we were promised and they've been lacking the past 10 seasons? In order to play a good 3-4 you need 3 beast upfront which the falcons are too gun shy to pick. Don't tell me your going to rush every down because other teams will pick up on that. Dree Brees is going to own them again!

Poledawg83
Poledawg83

We won't know for a year of two but if they don't get this one right they never will.  They had the senior bowl to get an up front look at the kids.  If Hegeman turns out to be a contributing starter then maybe that senior bowl exposure helped.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

One other thing,  the 2 guys the Falcons drafted late in the 7th round (Starr & Smallwood) both graded out in the mid 6's so those are pretty good value picks that late in the draft.   Not sure about the Allen pick because do they really need another small cornerback?  Most experts thought Freeman should have stayed in school another year so he may be a project that may pan out in a couple of years.   Out of the 4 linebackers they drafted all of these guys have a chance to make this team and a couple of them could turn out to be really good.  

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

There is no way you can grade the talent of a draft right away but based on the positions the Falcons went after I give it a B.    The Falcons addressed needs and in 3 years if the first 3 and half the others are on the roster then this draft will have been a success if after 3 years only a couple have panned out then the draft is a bust.    I would have liked to have seen the Falcons gotten a better running back but there was not much available when they decided to draft one and with all the QB talent in this draft I would have like to have seen them try and upgrade the back-up QB position.   There will be a few guys cut in the next few weeks so maybe they can address those two positions then. 

slydawg
slydawg

Did anyone catch how Blank slightly disses Matty Ice?

WhereDaMoney
WhereDaMoney

the draft overall is about a C---thomas and arthur act like they suddenly got  a bunch of super bowl players.  didn't happen.

slydawg
slydawg

If Matthews and Hageman turn out OK, then this draft should get an A. One thing got fixed and it's the most important: line of scrimmage.

4DaBirds
4DaBirds

I don't know why people are so high on Devonta Freeman. He has no breakaway speed, and that makes him no better than JaQuizz or Steven Jackson. The fast running back we do have (Antoine Smith) only seems to get utilized on special teams. Better and faster RB options were available, but for some reason we went our usual mediocre direction in this category.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

One cannot possibly know how good a draft may be for about 2-3 years.

If #1 & #2 turn out as starters and impact players, if #3 makes the team...you have a very good draft.  If they all make their teammates better, you've got an A+ draft.

Not otherwise.

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

@Ackshun you may be right, but having a stronger push up the middle from the DL should free up the current and new "pass rushers".......don't you think? Abraham would have fared no better last year....imo

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@BummerBummer  Freeman was a 4th round pick. Hageman was our 2nd round pick. Hageman was projected by some as a 1st round talent. So really, we got two first round talents with our first 2 picks. Could pay dividends.

TheMonger
TheMonger

@ATL89 Number 2.... Freeman is EASILY a much more powerful runner than Jacquizz!  Don't know what source you have been watching, but Freeman was the first Seminole to gain 1,000 yards rushing in a year since Warrick Dunn ( Maybe you have heard of him). You don't get that distinction without being a hard runner.  Most draftnicks referred to his running style as "running with his hair on fire". or "hits the hole with authority and runs hard, keeping those legs churning", or "doesn't shy away from contact".  Also, he is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield, which is crucial for a Matt Ryan running back.  You are totally wrong on Freeman.  Watch youtube, "Davonta Freeman Ultimate Highlights" and tell me if you still agree.

TheMonger
TheMonger

@ATL89 Disagree with both points...

1.  Matthews was rated the #1 Offensive Tackle on many sites, ahead of Robinson on quite a few.  He is the most NFL ready Tackle in the draft.  He is more proficient in pass blocking, run blocking, technique, footwork, and picking up blocking schemes than Lewan... hands down.  He is durable, as evidenced by him playing every game at Texas A&M, and he is versatile, being able to play both RT and LT, being a First team All-American at both positions.  Also, the bloodlines on this guy are insane... son of 18 time Pro Bowler Bruce Matthews, a Hall of Famer.  Cousin to Clay Matthews, a 4 time Pro Bowler.  This kid is technically as sound as any Offensive Lineman in the draft, he plays smarter than an OL, and he has heart and is as tough as any of the lineman, except maybe Lewan.  Best pick at #6 they could have possibly gotten.  I would have taken him at #3, and most draft experts agree with that.

WPL
WPL

@LessIsMore  They keep trying to play this " character " game here in the state of georgia, that's one of the reasons they can't win any championships, Nick Saban comes over in GA and get all the players he wants, Florida Gators, FL State, Tampa Bay, Dolphins, Heat, have championships. What do falcons, hawks, bulldogs have, nothing. 98 percent of all players have character issues. Bottom line is you or anybody else is not going to stop progress, because if one of these billionaire owners, believe a player can help his team, he is going to draft him, whether the folks in GA like it or not, and remember GA doesn't have any clout or respect, because they don't win championships. 


zuzu331
zuzu331

@RogerHenslee  Now THATS an honest assessment. No one knows,cant miss prospects OFTEN miss and these 'no names from mediocre schools' tear it up every year,like clockwork. How can grown people be so Ignorant of simple truth in front of their faces? You guys are like pointless background chatter,white noise just buzzing away...


GGee
GGee

We drafted 1 and picked up several in FA. Take a look at the roster before you post. Im more worried about the LBs on the team than the DL.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@suave61  Yep that Dree Brees is a world killer..isnt he? Wow.

jrob1234
jrob1234

@4DaBirds  I think I would have much rather had Lache Seastrunk than Freeman. This team needs guys that break one at any time. Lache can do that any time he touches the ball. 

suave61
suave61

But if you buy gold plated jewerly like the falcons picks are then chanches are they'll turn green! All the talk of getting bulk & beef upfront was a lie once again. What's with all the LB's. If you get into the secondary it's a wrap. Once again there's no pass rush. And don't tell me the LB's are going to blitz every down. Teams in this league pick up on gimmicks. Why are the falcons afraid of sucess (game changer DT'S & DE's)? Think about my words when Dree Brees sits in the pocket all day and picks the falcons apart again! It's kind of like the falcons love punishment!

slydawg
slydawg

If they won't scout the SEC, no way they get to him...lol.

BummerBummer
BummerBummer

Freeman gained a lot of yds. behide many talented players . As a a #2 pick he is a high risk. There were other RB available whom gained high yds. through individual toughness.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@WPL  ". . . Florida Gators, FL State, Tampa Bay, Dolphins, Heat, have championships. What do falcons, hawks, bulldogs have, nothing . . . ."

_____________________________

Don't forget the Thrashers and Flames; they also have nothing.