The COVER 9@9 is back every Wednesday at 9 a.m. We are gearing up for the start of the offseason conditioning program on April 18 and the NFL draft (April 28-30).
FLOWERY BRANCH – After spending the majority of their money on offense in free agency, the Falcons will turn their attention to the defense in the draft.
The linebacker corps is pretty thin right now and that makes the selection of Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland a no-brainer with the 17th pick overalll pick.
After his Pro Day, Ragland said that he had workouts scheduled with the Baltimore Ravens (sixth), Jacksonville Jaguars (fifth), Minnesota Vikings (23rd) and Buffalo Bills (19th).
Ragland ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. He was expected to run again at the school’s Pro Day, but mysteriously elected to sit on the slow time. He also only benched pressed 225 pounds, 13 times, but is believed to be recovering from a shoulder surgery.
Ragland is considered a two-down linebacker, who can help teams shut down the run. That’s an issue for the Falcons, who gave up 20 rushing touchdowns last season, which tied for tops in the league.
Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich, who was at Ragland’s Pro Day, would have to develop his coverage skills.
“He’s a thumper,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “He’s a guy that really in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, would have been a top 10 pick guaranteed. The coverage ability is going to be (an issue). He was 259 at the Senior Bowl. You’d like to see that weight down a bit.”
He was down to 248 for Alabama’s Pro Day. Here’s a story on his diet changes.
“How effective will he be in coverage in the NFL?,” Kipper said. “We know he’ll get after the quarterback. You can move him around a little bit. He’s got some versatility. But how he plays moving backwards, not forwards, is the concern with Reggie Ragland.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn was on the field to watch Ragland work during the Senior Bowl practices.
“I saw some good plays,” Quinn said. “I felt his speed. He’s bigger than I thought. On TV you see some ball games, but I felt the speed. There was a play across the field where he just went after the tight end, closed on him and took a shot at the ball.
“I was like this is a guy that is going for it. You can sense that from him.”
Quinn liked that Ragland tried to play some new positions at the Senior Bowl.
“I thought he had versatility because he went down to the pass rush and did some of that, too,” Quinn said. “It’s pretty rare. A lot of inside backers don’t have experience rushing outside. Man, what a versatile dude. Is he guy who can play over the tight end? He’s got the strength to do that, but yet he plays his game behind the ball. He jumped out to me in a positive way.”
Here’s how my Mock 2.0 stacks up:
- Tennessee Titans. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
- Cleveland Browns. Jared Goff, QB, California
- San Diego Chargers. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
- Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
- Jacksonville Jaguars. Jalen Ramsey, FS, Florida State
- Baltimore Ravens. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
- San Francisco 49ers. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
- Philadelphia Eagles. Veron Hargreaves, CB, Florida
- Tamp Bay Buccaneers: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
- New York Giants. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
- Chicago Bears. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
- New Orleans Saints. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
- Miami Dolphins. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
- Oakland Raiders. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
- Los Angeles Rams. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
- Detroit Lions. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
- Atlanta Falcons. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
- Indianapolis Colts. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
- Buffalo Bills. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Mississippi
- New York Jets. Leonard Floyd, DE, Georgia
- Washington Redskins. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
- Houston Texans. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
- Minnesota Vikings. Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
- Cincinnati Bengals. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
- Pittsburgh Steelers. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
- Seattle Seahawks. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
- Green Bay Packers. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
- Kansas City Chiefs. William Jackson III, CB, Houston
- Arizona Cardinals. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
- Carolina Panthers. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
- Denver Broncos. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
* There will be only 31 picks in the first round in 2016, with New England’s first-round pick forfeited.
2. QUINN TO SPEAK TODAY: Falcons coach Dan Quinn will speak this morning at the owner’s meeting. Here are some of the issues that will be discussed. Player safety is set to be the focus of this meeting.
3. MONEY COUNT: The Falcons have $5,020,893 million left under the salary cap, according to the NFLPA salary cap report. That’s about enough left for the rookie class.
4. OFFSEASON CONDITIONING: The offseason conditioning program starts on April 18.
5. PERSON TO MOVE TO RIGHT GUARD: Mike Person, who started 14 games at center last season, is moving to the vacant starting right guard spot.
Person, who had never started an NFL game until last season nor played center, will return to his natural position. He struggled snapping the ball last season and eventually lost the starting job to Gino Gradkowski for the regular season finale.
With the signing of center Alex Mack in free agency, the Falcons will slide Person over to right guard. Last season’s starter, Chris Chester was not re-signed.
Person, 27, beat out James Stone, Joe Hawley and Gradkowski to win the center job. The Falcons always thought that Person could start are either guard or center. The team remains high on Person as a guard.
6. SAINTS CAUSING TROUBLE: Former Georgia football player Damian Swann, now of the New Orleans Saints, was booked into Athens-Clarke County jail on charges of reckless driving and speeding. Police claim they recorded Swann driving 100 miles per hour in a 65 miles-per-hour zone on the 10 Loop near College Station Road at 2:17 a.m. in his 2016 Jaguar. Swann was booked at 3:16 a.m. Friday and released at 4:13 a.m. after posting a $2,000 cash bond, according to the jail records.
7. ICYMI – Falcons transactions since March 1.
8. CHEERLEADER AUDITIONS: Falcons cheerleader auditions are set for Sunday, April 24, 2016. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
9. POST FREE AGENCY DEPTH CHART: Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that Mohamed Sanu (video above) will be the team’s No. 2 wide receiver. Hardy is the No. 3 before the competition starts.
Here’s a look at the post-free agency depth chart:
WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 17 Devin Hester, 18 Jordan Leslie
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 64 Collin Rahrig
C 51 Alex Mack, 62 James Stone
RG 68 Mike Person 63 Ben Garland, 67 Adam Replogle
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 86 Beau Gardner
WR Mohamed Sanu, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams, 89 Aldrick Robinson, 89 C.J. Goodwin
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree, 8 Matt Schaub, 1 Matt Simms
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward, 35 Gus Johnson
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
NICKEL DEFENSE (60 PERCENT)
RDE 99 Adrian Clayborn, 94 Tyson Jackson
DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux 97 Grady Jarrett
DT 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 74 Joey Mbu
LDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 93 Malliciah Goodman, 41 Tyler Starr
LB 52 Sean Weatherspoon, 56 Brooks Reed
LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 LaRoy Reynolds
RCB 32 Jalen Collins, 28 Akeem King
NCB 23 Robert Alford
LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie
S 30 Charles Godfrey, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems
PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
FREE AGENCY STORIES
2016 NFL COMBINE COVERAGE
ATLANTA FALCONS OFFSEASON STORIES