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Falcons reset 2015: Draft haul brings instant aid

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Falcons reset 2015: Draft haul should improve results

By Frank Cooney

NFLDraftScout.com

So far so good for first-year head coach Dan Quinn, who enters the 2015 season with the help of one of best incoming draft classes in the NFL.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was ready to move up in the draft to land Clemson outside linebacker and pass rush specialist Vic Beasley.

There was no need to move and the Falcons picked Beasley No. 8 overall as the first of several selections that drew rave reveiews.

“We were focused on Vic right from the beginning,” Dimitroff said. “We were projecting that he might be there between six and eight. We were fortunate that he was there at eight for us, and we didn’t have to get antsy and jump up a pick, two or three to get him.”

Although the selection of Beasley wasn’t universally praised, NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler noted the Falcons responded to a clear need by landing an impact pass rusher.

Beasley does have some flaws, particularly against the run.

“Despite his natural ability as a pass rusher, Beasley does struggle against the run as he seems to lose track of the play at times and will take bad angles or even appear unmotivated when the play flows to the opposite side of the line,” noted NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang. “When he takes on blockers too high, he’s easily swept out of the play. He offers little in terms of ability to anchor or set the edge with power against the run, as he simply lacks the girth to hold position against tackles and even tight ends at times.”

Quinn, previously a defensive line coach by trade and who was leading the pass-rush drills during the team’s minicamp session will be charged with helping to develop Beasley, who needs to develop a signature pass-rush move.

He hopes to have more than just Beasley chasing around quarterbacks.

“When the pass rush is at its best, is when four or five guys are all working together,” Quinn said. “That’s been my experience. When a tackle and a defensive end work together or when all four of the guys know how to collapse the pocket, that’s when we’ll be at our best.”

In round two the Falcons added big, physical LSU cornerback Jalen Collins and then Indiana’s prolific running back Tevin Coleman, who rushed for 2,036 yards last year. Fourth-round wide receiver Justin Hardy could add more punch to the offense if he is able to show the same skills that collected 387 catches, 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns in 63 games for East Carolina.

Notably, like former Atlanta star receiver Terance Mathis, Hardy is an undersized former high school quarterback who could star in the slot immediately.

The Falcons get a close look at their new talent in this weekend’s rookie minicamp (May 8-10). Here is an early peek at the 2015 Falcons:

2014 RECORD: 5-10, 3rd in NFC South

COACH: Dan Quinn

1st season as Falcons/NFL head coach

2015 CAMP SCHEDULE

Rookie minicamp: May 8-10

OTA dates: May 26-29, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-12

Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

GRADING THE DRAFT — A

Per Rob Rang, NFLDraftScpout.com

After lots of talk of moving up, the Falcons were able to stand pat and still nab the dynamic edge rusher in Vic Beasley to fit in as Dan Quinn’s LEO defensive end. In a division this talented at quarterback, speed off the corner is mandatory and Beasley certainly provides that. Though he won’t scare anyone as a run defender, Beasley could push for 10 sacks as a rookie. He’ll be complemented with former teammate (and some would say better player) Grady Jarrett, who is likely to prove a steal in the fifth round. Both are intriguing fits in Quinn’s aggressive attack. Quinn is indeed the key for the Falcons, as his success as the defensive coordinator in Seattle lends credence to the theory that former LSU cornerback Jalen Collins could develop under his tutelage. Meanwhile, the Falcons nabbed solid skill positions prospects in slashing runner Tevin Coleman and slot receiver Justin Hardy, who could prove a quality replacement for free agent defection Harry Douglas.

SCOUTING ALL DRAFT PICKS

–Round 1/8 — Vic Beasley, OLB, 6-3, 246, Clemson

Clemson’s all-time sack leader, Beasley had 37 tackles, a team-high 21.5 tackles for loss, a team-high 12 sacks, nine quarterback pressures, three pass breakups, two caused fumbles, one recovered fumble and a 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown in 557 snaps over 13 games (12 starts) last season. He was the ACC defensive player of the year, as voted on by the coaches and the media. He finished with 33 sacks in his career, which he started as a running back.

–Round 2/42 — Jalen Collins, CB, 6-2, 203, LSU

A big, physical cornerback with the size and tackling skills to perhaps play safety. He led the Tigers with nine pass breakups in 2014, despite starting only seven of 13 games as a fourth-year junior. Also had 38 tackles and an interception. After redshirting as a freshman in 2011, Collins started the first game the next season before transitioning to a reserve role. Said he has a 78 1/8-inch wingspan.

–Round 3/73 — Tevin Coleman, RB, 5-11, 206, Indiana

Cranked up his game from the middle of his sophomore season through his junior campaign, averaging 142.6 rushing yards per game over the final 21 games of his college career. Owns the IU single-season rushing record with 2,036 yards last fall, and he set the mark while going for 228 yards against eventual national champion Ohio State. Also rushed for 307 against Rutgers. Was one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, and second nationally in rushing in 2014 while averaging 169.7 yards per game. Also caught 25 passes as a junior. Rushed for 958 yards as a sophomore, missing three games with an ankle injury. As a freshman, he rushed for 225 yards, and led the team with a 23.6-yard average on kickoff returns, including one that went 96 yards for a touchdown.

–Round 4/107 — Justin Hardy, WR, 5-10, 192, East Carolina

He set the record for most career receptions in bowl subdivision history last season. Hardy played in 63 games for the Pirates and finished his career with 387 catches for 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns. He broke the record against Tulane last season in a 34-6 victory. He moved pass the previous record of 349 set by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles in 2011. Hardy had just one Division II scholarship offer in high school before ending up at East Carolina as a preferred walk-on. He had originally signed with Fayetteville State, but was given a release to walk-on at ECU. He spent his first year on the scout team before earning a scholarship a year later and quickly earning a lead role in the pass-heavy offense.

–Round 5/137 — Grady Jarrett, DT, 6-1, 304, Clemson

The son of former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle. He was a three-sport standout in high school and captured state titles in wrestling and the shot put. He was a team co-captain. He was named third-team All-American by Athlon and first-team All-ACC by the media and the coaches. He had 73 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, two caused fumbles and one recovered fumble in 530 snaps over 13 games (13 starts). Comes off the ball low and has natural leverage.

–Round 7/225 — Jake Rodgers, G, 6-6, 315, Eastern Washington

Rodgers is athletic and could fit in a as a big guard. He was 250 pounds coming out of high school and was recruited as a tight end. He was moved to the line at Washington State. He redshirted and played for them in 2011. He started 12 games for the Cougars in 2012 at four different positions, but decided to leave the program. He transferred and missed half of the 2013 season with a knee injury. He returned in 2014 and started every game at right tackle and also played some at right guard.

–Round 7/249 — Akeem King, S, 6-1, 212, San Jose State

Was his team’s fourth-leading tackler with 71 stops (tops among defensive backs) with two pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for lost yardage while starting all 12 games. Was a reserve over his first three seasons. As a high schooler, he also lettered in basketball and track and field, setting the school record with a time of 10.74 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

NOTABLE VETERANS ACQUIRED:

–CB Phillip Adams: UFA Jets; $745,000/1 yr.

–DE Adrian Clayborn: UFA Buccaneers; $3M/1 yr, $750,000 SB.

–LB Justin Durant: UFA Cowboys; $10.8M/3 yrs, $1.25M SB/$3M guaranteed.

–WR Leonard Hankerson: UFA Redskins; $1M/1 yr, $255,000 SB.

–TE Tony Moeaki: UFA Seahawks; $745,000/1 yr.

–T/G Mike Person: UFA Rams; $3.35M/3 yrs, $500,000 SB.

–LB Brooks Reed: UFA Texans; $22.5M/5 yrs, $4.7M SB/$9M guaranteed.

–LB O’Brien Schofield: UFA Seahawks; $1.7M/1 yr, $255,000 SB.

–TE Jacob Tamme: UFA Broncos; $3.2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.

NOTABLE PLAYERS LOST:

–G Justin Blalock (released).

–WR Harry Douglas (released).

–RB Steven Jackson (released).

–S Dwight Lowery: UFA Colts; $950,000/1 yr, $80,000 SB.

–DE Jonathan Massaquoi (released).

–CB Robert McClain: UFA Patriots; $1.25M/1 yr, $150,000 guaranteed.

–S Zeke Motta (released/failed physical).

–TE Bear Pascoe: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.

–DT Corey Peters: UFA Cardinals; $10.5M/3 yrs.

–RB Jacquizz Rodgers: UFA Bears; $785,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.

–LB Sean Weatherspoon: UFA Cardinals: $3.58M/1 yr, $1.25M SB.

–CB Josh Wilson: UFA Lions; $950,000/1 yr, $80,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.

PRESEASON PEEK — Mark that calendar

All times Eastern

Aug. 14: TENNESSEE (Fri.), 7:00

Aug. 21: at N.Y. Jets (Fri.) 7:30

Aug. 29: at Miami (Sat.), 7:00

Sept. 3: BALTIMORE (Thu.), 7:00


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