FLOWERY BRANCH – Wanted to wait a little bit for the dust to settle after the 2016 NFL Draft to complete the report card.
Didn’t want to over-react in the rush to quickly judge the six new picks. Listened closely and re-read the transcripts from general manger Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn talking about the picks and the rationales for selecting this group.
After digesting all of that information, I’m not really sure that the Falcons picked up the three starters that owner Arthur Blank coveted, but I do think they landed a future star and starter at tight end and two intriguing developmental prospects in linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and guard Wes Schweitzer.
First-round pick Keanu Neal indeed may become a big-time player in the NFL, but it’s hard not to call the move a “reach” pick. We explain that in the breakdown article
Also, Jones, may indeed become a fine linebacker, but he only started 12 games at LSU. He couldn’t beat out Kwon Alexander, who was a fourth-round pick in 2015 by Tampa Bay. Darron Lee and Vonn Bell would have been better picks. Or Darron Lee and Darian Johnson would have been a better speedy linebacker-safety combo in the first two rounds.
Because I think the Falcons didn’t pick the best player available and could have picked an even batter safety-speedy linebacker combo in the first and second round, I would not be able to sleep well by giving them anything higher than a C-minus for this draft.
Here’s a look at the players the Falcons selected:
Keanu Neal, safety, Florida
Round: First (17th overall)
Height: 6-feet | Arm length: 32 3/4″
Weight: 211 pounds | Hand size: 10 5/8″
40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds (Tied with Clemson’s Jayron Kearse for ninth-fastest among safeties)
Bench press: 17 reps of 225 pounds (Tied with Miami’s Deon Bush for fifth-most among safeties)
Vertical jump: 38 inches (Tied with Southern Utah’s Miles Killebrew for second-highest among safeties)
Broad jump: 132 inches (Longest among safeties)
Three-cone drill: 7.09 seconds (Eighth-fastest among safeties)
20-yard shuttle: 4.38 seconds (11th-fastest among safeties)
60-yard shuttle: 11.58 seconds (Fifth-fastest among safeties)
Overview: As expected, Neal’s freakish athleticism was on display at the combine. His broad jump was impressive, as he finished three inches ahead of second-place T.J. Green from Clemson. CBS Sports had Neal rated as a fourth to fifth-round prospect early in the pre-draft process.
Deion Jones, linebacker, LSU
Round: Second (52nd overall)
Height: 6-feet 7/8| Arm length: 32 3/8″
Weight: 222 pounds | Hand size: 9 1/4″
40-yard dash: 4.38 seconds
Bench press: 18 reps
Vertical jump: 35 ½
Three-cone drill: 7.13 seconds
Overview: Jones is a speedy player. He gives the Falcons another player who can cover running backs. Falcons coach Dan Quinn has repeatedly talked about getting faster on defense this offense. Jones was the fastest of all of the linebackers at the scouting combine. He was a finalists for the Butkus Award and was the Tigers leading tackler and defensive most valuable player last season.
Austin Hooper, tight end, Stanford
Round: Third (81st)
Height: 6-foot, 3 ¾ inches | Arm length: 33 3/4″
Weight: 254.pounds | Hand size: 10 5/8″
40-yard dash: 4.68 and 4.71 seconds
Bench press: 19 reps of 225 pounds (Needs to get stronger)
Vertical: 33 inches
Broad Jump: 9 feet, 9 inches
Three-cone drill: 7 seconds
Overview: He’s considered an athletic pass-catching tight end who had to wait his turn at Stanford. Some believe that he could have benefitted from another year of seasoning in the college ranks. He can develop into a mismatch option-route runner as a receiver. He’s also played some H-back and a motive and move tight end. Some scouts believe that he’s a better prospect than former Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry, who was selected early in the second round.
De’Vondre Campbell, linebacker, Minnesota
Round: Fourth (115th overall)
Height: 6-foot, 35/8 inches | Arm length: 33 5/8″
Weight: 232 pounds | Hand size: 9 5/8″
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps of 225 pounds (Needs to get stronger)
Vertical: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.07 seconds
Overview: Played both inside and outside at Minnesota. He has discussed playing the weakside linebacker with Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich. He started 13 games and started 11 games. He finished third on the team with 92 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. He had a time-high four sacks. He was named all-Big Ten honorable mention b the coaches and the media.
Wes Schweitzer, guard, San Jose State
Round: Sixth (195th)
Height: 6-feet, 5-inches
Weight: 314 pounds
Bench press: 28 reps of 225 pounds
Overview: He played some left and right tackle in college. He’s was a fifth-year senior and two-year starter at left tackle. Played in 31 games with 25 career starters. He was honored in 2012 and 2015 on National Student-Athlete Day by the National Consortium for Academics & Sports. He’s a three-time academic all-conference award winner.
Devin Fuller, wide receiver UCLA
Round: Seven (238th overall)
40-yard dash: 4.36 seconds at pro day
Overview: Fuller hauled in just 24 catches last year as a senior. Fuller was a former Army All-American athlete prospect out of high school. He struggled to find a niche in UCLA’s offense. He shuffled between playing some slot as a junior to playing outside as a senior in 2015. He also a potential kickoff and punt returner. He won the Captain Don Brown Memorial Award for most improved player on offense at the annual team banquet.
NFL DRAFT 2016 – POSITION BY POSITION SERIES
Sunday, April 17 — QUARTERBACKS
Monday — RUNNING BACKS
Tuesday – WIDE RECEIVERS
Wednesday — TIGHT ENDS
Thursday — OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Friday — DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Saturday, April 23 — LINEBACKERS
Sunday, April 24 — CORNERBACKS
Monday, April 25 — SAFETIES
Tuesday, April 26