On Falcons’ draft, trading up, Bruce Irvin and Gurley question

Former Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler is one player the Falcons have interest in. (AP photo

Former Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler is one player the Falcons have interest in. (AP photo

Former Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler is one player the Falcons have interest in. (AP photo

There is a growing belief that the Falcons, scheduled to draft eighth overall, may attempt to trade up a few spots in tonight’s first round for a chance to take former Florida outside linebacker Dante Fowler or, should he unexpectedly fall that far, USC defensive end Leonard Williams.

So let me weigh in on that issue and others:

1. POSITION NEED: Could the Falcons use Fowler, Williams, Clemson OLB Vic Beasley or any other potential impact player in the front seven? Duh. As I wrote in this column on MyAJC.com, the team has drafted 13 defensive linemen and linebackers in the first five rounds since general manager Thomas Dimitroff arrived in 2008 and only two amounted to anything, relative to their draft position: middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and linebacker/end Kroy Biermann. Click the link for more but here’s the first quote from new Falcons Dan Quinn, a long-time defensive assistant: “When I see quarterbacks are able to throw it on time and they feel comfortable, it makes my skin crawl.”

2. LIKELIHOOD OF DEAL: I hate speculating on these things because there is more bad information — much of it intentional — before an NFL draft than any other sports event. But if the Falcons are serious about moving up, they better be right about the guy they’re taking because they can’t afford another whiff early in the draft, particularly in an area of such great need.

3. THE IRVIN FACTOR: The Falcons would have obvious interest in Seattle defensive end Bruce Irvin, who played for Quinn with the Seahawks and has only one year left on his contract. As Darryl Ledbetter wrote here, the Falcons and Seahawks reportedly have had trade talks. However, the potential of Irvin’s acquisition, while significant, shouldn’t affect the Falcons’ draft strategy. One veteran player won’t fix the defense.

4. MY PREFERENCE: The Falcons have multiple needs: end, linebacker, free safety, tight end, running back. For that reason, I’m not a big fan of giving away extra assets for one player, unless that one player has the potential to have a huge impact. (Conversely, I had no problem with the Julio Jones trade a few years ago because Jones has been as good as advertised, the Falcons’ desperately needed a game-changer at receiver and he’s the best player on the team.) If the Falcons can’t get an impact defender drafting eighth, I would be more in favor of them trading down, accumulating more draft picks and re-stocking the roster.

5. THE GURLEY QUESTION: I’m rarely stunned in sports any more. But it would stun me if the Falcons drafted Gurley in the first round. They need a running back and he’s a great one but fixing the defense has to be priority one. As talented as Gurley is, I’m also a little concerned about his injury history at Georgia.

6. WHO’S IN CHARGE?: I addressed this a little in the column. Assistant general manager Scott Pioli’s primary duties are overseeing the scouting department (college and pro) and preparing for the draft. But he answers to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who ultimately will take the name off the board on draft night (and days). Quinn, however, has a significant voice — maybe even a bigger voice than Dimitroff. He had other head coaching opportunities and I don’t believe he would’ve taken the Falcons’ job without some assurances that he would be able to help pick the players. He already has final say over the 53-man roster. So when you see players come off the board, think Quinn.

7. FALCONS FILTER: If I’m the Falcons, I steer clear of Randy Gregory and Shane Ray, less because of the issue of their marijuana use (although that shouldn’t be completely dismissed) as much as their sheer stupidity for getting caught in the days leading up to the draft or the scouting combine. If a player is that dumb, how can an NFL team trust them with an enormous paycheck and a job? But make no mistake: The overall “Falcons Filter” will allow some players through, which hasn’t been the case since Michael Vick’s exit. For more on that, click here.

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Quinn determined to get it right for Falcons after past draft whiffs
— MyAJC: Hawks’ regular-season afterglow is long gone
— MyAJC: Hawks being visited by ghosts of playoffs past
— AJC: Short takes: Hawks seem to have lost their cool, shooting touch
— MyAJC: Hawks’ Horford is coming up short against Nets’ Lopez
— AJC: Short takes: Hawks off-target, lose and give Nets hope
— MyAJC: Hawks know it’s playoffs and style points don’t matter
— AJC: Hawks in Brooklyn knowing they need to think sweep, not split
— MyAJC: Braves’ starting pitching is coming up short
— AJC: Braves swept by Mets, as Teheran is latest starter to struggle
— AJC: Hawks’ sale positive but does Gearon’s role ensure Ferry’s exit?
— AJC: Poll: Should Falcons pursue Adrian Peterson, Randy Gregory?
— MyAJC: Falcons’ risk-reward scale may tip in new direction
— AJC: Budenholzer wins coaching honor, and it shouldn’t have been close
— AJC: Millsap, Sefolosha, Horford — what’s going on with Hawks?
— MyAJC: Hawks need a better Millsap for long playoff run
— MyAJC: Budenholzer knows what playoff success is all about
— MyAJC: Hawks hoping to leave Atlanta playoff wreckage behind
— AJC: Hawks lose lottery pick but get better playoff match-up: Nets
— MyAJC: Jordan Spieth: Perfect champion, perfect story

 

Reader Comments 0

117 comments
gt51
gt51

gurley will be an avg rb in the nfl.  the o line for uga is one of the best in the country.  if gurley is the best rb since hershel how did chubb step in and not miss a beat?  the other 2 rbs for uga look pretty good when they carry the ball also.  i guess uga has all of the best rbs in the country?  its the o line.  the past 3 bama rbs looked all world when they were in college.  not so much in the nfl 

slydawg
slydawg

Difference being those Alabama Olinmen were all draft picks. This group at UGA plays well as a group but none have any pro potential except John Theus

BULLSEYE57
BULLSEYE57

Falcons need to consult Bulldog homers before they draft. They are all GM material.

ruffdawg
ruffdawg

Falcons will regret not getting Gurley....I guess that's why I'm indifferent towards the Falcons & Hawks ....something's in the water in Atlanta.... How many players have they drafted from Uga? I guess that's why I have never been a Falcon fan...never really give the state much to cheer about....nothing against Beasley but Falcons never seem to get that transcendent player that Dog or Leadership mentality ( R.Lewis, R.Sherman etc.)

GTBob
GTBob

@ruffdawg Im sure if a stud pass rushing DE were available from UGA then he would have been considered. You don't draft an injured running back in the top 10 when you have the worst defense in the league.

kerryb
kerryb

No, you draft a DE that will only play on 3rd and long because he is too light to set the edge against the run.

Terrytime
Terrytime

well I just saw who my Falcons picked at 8, Beasley, Welcome! However, how in the world can dumb A## TD pass on T. Gurley? So aggravating, how many Georgia players are passed by the Falcons.....Rodney Hampton still chaps my hide they passed on. Well, Gurley is better than Hampton, even w the injury. Why Falcons Why? Maybe we get Chubb n a couple of yrs....

kerryb
kerryb

In their history how many great players have the Falcons passed on because they were completely wrong about the one they drafted. Beasley will be a bust as a pass rusher. Will not get by NFL tackles.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

no Todd Gurley.  Sorry kerryb.  Maybe you should go purchase some powder blue and gold?

kerryb
kerryb

Wasted pick as usual for the Falcons. This will be like the Jamal Anderson pick in 2007. The 4th best DE in the draft when you could have had the best player on the board.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

The 2nd or 3rd best edge player is not worth it at 8. Neither is a running back. The offense the Falcons will be running with zone blocking made a 4th round RB from UGA a 2,000 yard rusher, Super Bowl and NFL MVP, and don't forget Warrick Dunn's success in the Alex Gibbs system. If he is available at 8, pick Brandon Scherff. Otherwise, trade down.

SaulK
SaulK

julio's getting old---thomas can trade 5 picks for anothe wide receiver!! he knows his stuf!!

BULLSEYE57
BULLSEYE57

Shane Ray and Randy Gregory are trail blazers. When you play at their level, you need the weed to help the healing of the body. The day will come when even sports writers will partake in the smoke.  Roll on.

SaulK
SaulK

@BULLSEYE57 shane's hoping to go to denver or seattle so he can really smoke it up!!

斯科特 · 格里尔
斯科特 · 格里尔

Sport pundits  who have never played the game in their lives opinions is about as good as my own .I would pick Shane Ray  in a heart beat as for Gurley no one pick a running  back in the first round .Duh

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

I think some you are actually serious about drafting Gurley. 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Rory_Bellows 

"I think some you"

Come on Rory, if you killing Dled all the time you cant drop a sentence like this one! Can you?

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

Enough with Gurley for the homers. He wasn't even the best Uga running back. Falcons need line on both sides of the ball all day long. Not a running back coming off a knee injury. Gurley assuming he is healthy will be a solid running back in the league and admittedly could help the Falcons significantly but they have much bigger glaring needs. Time to give Dimitroff the wrong address for the draft or let him get caught in traffic so he can't blow another draft. If Dimitroff has a say we are in real trouble.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Draft Gurley to keep Ryan upright with an actual rushing attack the Falcons lack.

JFKDawg
JFKDawg

Let's draft an OL.  If Ryan can stay upright and we can actually have offensive drives, it will help the defense.  Grab the kid from Iowa and load up on the defense with the rest of the picks and possibly the acquisition of Irvin.

rwjohns
rwjohns

I remember a guy named Justin Houston coming out of UGA who failed a drug test for weed.  He's turned out to be pretty good.

Bug
Bug

Look when you dish out "TEARS" with the way Gurley runs, you are going to have injuries.


if you want a safe pick trade up for Fowler with Oakland but you can kiss your 2nd round pick goodbye.


Don't have a problem with that. It would be one less pick for Dimitroff to blow.


all I am saying is Gurley is one of the players worth the 8th pick, it is either him, a lineman or a WR.


anyone else is a reach.


so let's don't reach, trade up or down or take a player regardless of his position at 8th that is worth it.     

BCB
BCB

Jeff, Gurley had a high ankle sprain and a ACL injury. I wouldn't call that a huge injury history.

Bug
Bug

there are only 2 defensive players worth picking in the top 10. Fowler & Williams.


anyone else at 8 is a major reach. Trade down or up or take Gurley at 8.


one of the problems with Dimitroff is he picks by needs and we have seen the complete roster destruction of his work.


You take the best player on the board every time and eventually you have a roster full of talent.


You fill the needs of your roster with Free agents if you have any.


As long as Dimitroff is doing nothing except bringing coffee to the decision makers they will be fine.   

Carmen514
Carmen514

Getting GURLEY would be like playing the lottery with his injuries, 50/50 chance. #WESHALLSEE

Hank Kimball
Hank Kimball

All three of those guys are good. I would trade down and get the pot smokers and dummies and more picks. Stupid is OK as long as they can play and be coached up. By the time the dust settles Marijuana will be legal here anyway. Get that mini Great Dane from WI he is about as good as TG. I like that big ol farm boy from Iowa for the OLine we still need some more beef there.

Columbus68
Columbus68

PLEASE NOT BEASLEY....! He does not finish plays, sucks against the run. Stands around watching. Looks lost out there too much if he cant rush the QB. No way. No how. Why do you media people keep taking about him?! He should be a 3rd rounder. Or late 2nd!  Id MUCH rather have the kid from Kentucky

User Name Taken
User Name Taken

The Falcons already have enough injury risks.  They don't need to waste a first round pick on Gurley to pick up yet another one.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@DawgnIT you have been watching that TV show "SEX sent me to the ER"......LMAO

Injuries can happen in any contact sport.


DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@POAD5150 @DawgnIT Which is why people need to get over injured players.  Either they are cleared to play of they aren't.  Many players get injured.  Some come back and some don't.  Imagine if the Bulls had tried to unload Jordan after his early foot injury because he was damaged goods.

I don't care if the Falcons take Gurley or Gordon but they should look into completing the trinity with Ryan and Jones.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@DawgnIT sorry but IMO until the Falcons have an O-line a RB is not worth picking until the 3rd round.  

kerryb
kerryb

Gurley is the perfect fit for what Kyle Shanahan wants to do with the run game.  He wants to get outside, make one cut, and go.  That's Gurley.  Quinn was at Seattle where they had Marshawn Lynch.  Gurley is the next Marshawn Lynch.  I think the only pass rusher the Falcons are interested in is Fowler.  If they can't get Fowler I don't think they use the 8th pick on the 2nd or 3rd best rusher.  They take the best player at a position of need and the best player is Todd Gurley. I think the fact that they are talking to Seattle to trade that pick for a pass rusher tells me they don't think they will get high enough to pick Fowler and will you the 8th pick for another position.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@kerryb what makes you think GURLEY can make a CUT on that Knee and get outside?

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@kerryb FINE is subjective. You don't think an AGENT isn't helping those Dr.s make that report? NOBODY has seen Gurley run under duress on that PERFECT Knee now have they?


REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@kerryb SO? he is not worth 1st round money. There a no RBs worth 1st round money. You can get a 2nd or 3rd RB and get new RBs every 3 or 4 years and save money. With a GREAT O-LINE there are plenty of RBs tht can be great. 

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@POAD5150 @kerryb kerry has been Gurley's biggest cheerleader.  He says the same thing on every forum.  This team has more important needs that Todd Gurley.  Give it a rest.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@kerryb Blah blah blah the same UGa BS. He is Herschel Walker...lmao

kerryb
kerryb

@POAD5150 @kerryb Gurley made average O-Lines look great.  Yes, their are not many RB that are worth 1st round money but this one is.  Gurley is a once every 10 year back a player that can take a game over by himself which will completely open up your passing game.  The reason the Falcons have struggled on offense is not only because of the O-line.  It's because no one has respected our run game at all.  They would have to now if we picked him.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@kerryb @POAD5150 Lemme guess, Chubb made the line look great too....and Sony Michel...he made the line look good.  Didn't they plug in a defensive player at RB a couple of years ago? Did he make the average O-Line look great too?  Pretty soon you need to realize that there's a common denominator there.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@kerryb so did Barry Sanders at Detroit but what did he do to get the LIONS to the promised land?

FALCONS have so so so many more needs than Gurley. 

Your Dog colors are all that are calling a Gurly pick is good for the Falcons. 

Even this Tech fan wouldn't wish Gurley to be in the DOMe with that line the Falcons have right now. 

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@PalmBeachFalcon @kerryb @POAD5150 Anytime a team loses a football game it's because the OL sucks.  We heard it about UGA and the Falcons for the past 5 years or so.  Never mind all the points scored and yards gained by both teams. 

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@POAD5150 @kerryb The Lions sucked.  Sanders was the only hope they had.  It was so bad that Sanders wanted a trade or a release to try to win with another team but the Lions declined.  He retired rather than keep going despite being healthy and highly productive.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@DawgnIT so you agree with me that Gurley isn't the answer in ATL! Thanks we can agree.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@POAD5150 @DawgnIT Yeah, the Falcons are taking Jim Brown in the 3rd or 4th round like they do every year.

kerryb
kerryb

@POAD5150 @kerryb Every NFL Dr that has checked him out says he's fine.  They would know.  Why do you think everyone is talking today about him possibly being a top 10 pick tonight?

kerryb
kerryb

@PalmBeachFalcon @POAD5150 @kerryb Wrong.  I was one that thought it was crazy a few weeks ago when I first heard it but if you can get an experience pass rusher with a trade I would much have that than an unproven rookie.  They will not get Fowler unless they trade up and if they don't address the RB position no one is going to respect Freeman enough to not all out rush the passer.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@DawgnIT WHAT? When Jim Brown was taken the game was a RUNNING game...not so much now.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@POAD5150 @DawgnIT There is no "the answer" at any position.  Teams with many answers win the the Super Bowl, not one answer.  So much money has been dumped into the QB and WR positions across the league yet neither have proven to be "the answer". 

If you don't think a dominant RB can help the Falcons, you're crazy.  Even an RB taken in the middle to late rounds would have to end up playing like a 1st round talent to be "an answer".  The only reason to devalue RBs is for financial purposes, not performance.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@DawgnIT The only reason to devalue RBs is for financial purposes, not performance.


and for their total value in the O game plan. Falcons can do more with less if they have an O-LINE.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@POAD5150 @DawgnIT Not true.  The Falcons couldn't get it done with a good OL, Gonzalez, Roddy closer to his prime, and Julio.  They won 13 games, got an early lead vs the Seahawks before letting them back in the game because the offense bogged down and were lucky to win, then did the same thing against the 49ers and were not so lucky.  It's been down hill since 2012 because they can't run the ball and can no longer defend.

They need a pass rush and a rushing attack before they are back, period.  My first 3 wish list picks are pass rushers.  I understand the priority.  My argument has been that if those 3 are off the board, I wouldn't want the Falcons to reach for any other pass rusher at 8 and so I'd be okay with Gurley or Scherff.  Or they could trade back and get one of many players who fill a need.