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The Atlanta Falcons spent the past couple
08-07-2019, 09:06 AM,
Post: #1
The Atlanta Falcons spent the past couple
FLOWERY BRANCH , Ga. (AP) —This time around, they’re coming off a hugely disappointing season that turned up the heat on coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.The Falcons have the 14th overall pick in next week’s draft — their earliest selection since 2015, when they took Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley at No. 8.Despite a 7-9 record in 2018, which led to the ouster of all three coordinators, Dimitroff said there is no greater sense of urgency than other drafts. Just two seasons removed from a trip to the Super Bowl, he still feels the Falcons have the nucleus to reclaim their place as one of the league’s better teams, especially after addressing some of the most pressing needs in free agency.“We’re going into the draft in a really good place,” Dimitroff said. “We don’t feel the same amount of pressure going into the draft having to get all these depth areas taken care of. That’s a good feeling.”This is the fifth draft together for Dimitroff, the Falcons’ GM since 2008, and Quinn, who came aboard as head coach in 2015. The two take a collective approach to making their choices, which seems to work well for both.“We all have our hands in it,” Dimitroff said. “This is not an organization where you have one guy pounding their fist on the table.”The Falcons’ success on the first night of the draft may be determined by how many quarterbacks are selected in the first 13 picks. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Missouri’s Drew Lock have all been mentioned as potential top 10 picks.Atlanta, of course, is set at quarterback with 2016 MVP Matt Ryan and veteran backup Matt Schaub. Quinn jokingly lobbied for other teams to gobble up as many quarterbacks as possible before the Falcons get their turn.“This is one of the best quarterback classes I’ve seen since 1983,” Quinn said, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. “It’s really, really something to behold.”Here are some things to watch for when it’s the Falcons’ time to pick:BULKING UPAfter a devastating rash of injuries gutted both sides of the line Drew Lock Jersey , the Falcons learned the hard way there’s no such thing as too much depth. Even though they signed guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency, and also brought back defensive end Adrian Clayborn, the Falcons will be looking for more big bodies in the draft.If Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins or Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams falls their way, it would be hard to pass up — especially on the offensive side, where the Falcons must do a better job of protecting Ryan.“It’s a big year for offensive linemen,” said Dimitroff, who thinks as many as 10 could go in the opening round. “It’s not only a big year for number of tackles, but this is a year when several guards could fall in the first round as well.”THIN CORNERThe Falcons parted ways with three of their top four cornerbacks from 2018, including longtime starter Robert Alford, making this a top draft priority. Atlanta always seems to select a player from LSU, so Greedy Williams could be on the radar. Georgia’s Deandre Baker is another player to keep an eye on.“It’s not necessarily a fast group,” Dimitroff pointed out. “That said, there are some really good corners. Just because their (40-yard) times are in the 4.5s doesn’t mean they won’t be effective in this league.”EYES ON THE BACKFIELDRunning back Devonta Freeman has endured two straight injury-plagued seasons, and the Falcons no longer have insurance policy Tevin Coleman, who left in free agency to sign with the 49ers. Atlanta will likely be looking for another running back on the second or third day of the draft.PLAYING IT SAFEWith starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen both coming off major injuries, Quinn acknowledged that the team might be looking to add to its depth in that area.“That’s an important position, and it’s evolved more,” said the coach, who is taking on the added duties of defensive coordinator. “People are using a third safety more than they have in the past.”TRADING THOMASDimitroff loves to wheel and deal on draft day , and he’s got extra picks to work with in the fourth and fifth rounds, a total of nine selections in all. While a major deal seems unlikely, look for the Falcons to do some maneuvering to get the players they want. CLEVELAND (0-0-1) at NEW ORLEANS (0-1)Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBSOPENING LINE — Saints by 7 ½RECORD VS. SPREAD — Cleveland 1-0, New Orleans 0-1SERIES RECORD — Browns lead 13-4LAST MEETING — Browns beat Saints 26-24, Sept. 14, 2014LAST WEEK — Browns tied Steelers 21-21; Saints lost to Buccaneers 48-40AP PRO32 RANKING — Browns No. 27, Saints No. 13BROWNS OFFENSE — OVERALL (20t), RUSH (2), PASS (27).BROWNS DEFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (28), PASS (28).SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (31), PASS (1).SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (31), RUSH (14), PASS (30).STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Browns have won past two meetings and five of last six. … Browns seeking first win since Dec. 24, 2016. … QB Tyrod Taylor had 77 yards and TD rushing and TD passing in Browns debut last week. … Taylor passed for 56 yards, INT in last game against Saints with Bills in 47-10 loss in Week 10 last season. Taylor was benched by Bills following week. … Taylor’s INT rate of 1.45 percent is lowest in NFL history among QBs with 1 ,250 career attempts. … WR Jarvis Landry grew up between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, starred at LSU from 2011-2013. He had seven catches for 106 yards last week in Browns debut and is one of three WRs with 400-plus catches since 2014. … WR Josh Gordon had TD catch last week. … DE Myles Garrett had two sacks, his second career multi-sack game. He aims for fourth game in row with sack. … LB Joe Schobert had team-high eight tackles, two fumble returns in Week 1. …Rookie CB Denzel Ward had two INTs in NFL debut. … Saints QB Drew Brees completed 37 of 45 (82.2 percent) for 439 yards, three TDs, no INTs vs. Tampa Bay. He has 16 career games with at least 400 yards passing yards, most in NFL history. … RB Alvin Kamara had 141 scrimmage yards (112 receiving), three TDs (2 rushing) in Week 1, first game since being voted 2017 Offensive Rookie of Year. … WR Michael Thomas had Saints single-game record 16 catches last week for 180 yards, TD. … WR Ted Ginn Jr., CB Marshon Lattimore grew up in Cleveland area, starred at Ohio State. Lattimore played for Ginn Jr.’s father at Glenville High School. … Saints DB Justin Hardee was Lattimore’s teammate at Glenville High. … Ginn Jr., had 68 yards receiving, TD in Week 1. … LB Demario Davis led Saints with eight tackles in New Orleans debut. He had 99 tackles, two sacks with Browns in 2016. … Fantasy Tip: Kamara appears to have picked up where he left off last season and was Saints’ go-to player near end zone in both run and pass game. He also had more action that usual with RB Mark Ingram serving four-game suspension.

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