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NFL Draft

General Manager Speak: Assessing Falcons’ 2020 NFL Draft

  • The Draft Network
  • May 26, 2020
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The Falcons limped to the finish and ended the 2019 season with a disappointing 7-9 record. 

With injuries to many notable defensive pieces, Atlanta saw its season come to a fierce halt before it could even begin. Many key pieces are returning and a vote of confidence has been given to coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. But make no mistake, the Falcons enter a crucial 2020 season.

They began to fill roster holes by signing defensive end Dante Fowler in free agency. Voids still remain at cornerback and along the interior line, and Dimitroff wasted little time with filling them in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Falcons’ complete 2020 draft class:

In this new series, I will analyze quotes that stuck out the most from executives’ pre- and post-draft press conferences. Below are quotes from Dimitroff.

Question: What pushed Terrell to the top of the list for you and why were you comfortable selecting him?

Dimitroff: "He's a 6-foot-1 guy and who [has 4.4-second speed], athleticism, agility, body control [and] ability to get his hands on balls. We're excited about his natural ball skills. He's a smart guy; really squared away, full package for us and I think that's a big thing for us. [It] seems like he fits in very well with Dan's system.”

Analysis: Terrell was rumored to go much higher for some teams than he was in the media. The lasting image NFL media members had of Terrell is his performance against LSU’s Ja'Marr Chase where Terrell struggled. Terrell looked like a first-round prospect, but that final game that fogged his draft stock. 

My 2019 take from Terrell’s player profile:

"Terrell is a fluid, loose mover who’s savvy and uses his wingspan to his advantage. He targets the near shoulder pad area as his landing spot and will constantly stab that portion in order to irritate the flow of wideouts. His length causes massive disruptions and it is highly successful with impeding the catch process. Even when it seems that a catch is possible, he competes through the arms of matchups. Terrell shows to be capable of waiting patiently to allow the receiver to reveal the beginning stages of the catch process. This is where he’s able to stick his hands into visible areas to cause pass breakups. He routinely plays through the arms and hands of targets and there’s always a belief that he can cause incompletions.
"As a multi-year starter, Terrell has seen his game improve every season while at Clemson. His blend of length, active hands and patience at the line are an above-average starting point for a corner, but his game in between and at the catch point is where he’s lacking. Terrell’s play strength is much improved as he struggles to stay afloat in phase and can get outmuscled at the catch point. He will need a year to sit and learn behind two already well-established options. After time as an understudy, he could eventually turn into a middle of the road starter, but patience will be needed. Terrell has previously learned from trial and error periods with techniques that have been taught to him."

Question: What was the biggest focus during Day 2? 

Dimitroff: “We went into this evening focused on the interior. Getting stronger, bigger and more versatile inside and we accomplished our goals. To have both Marlon and Matt join us, again we feel like we accomplished what we were looking for.”

Analysis: The Falcons defense struggled mightily in multiple areas. Atlanta now has a disruptor in Davidson, who doesn't necessarily wreak havoc on a down-to-down basis, but his discipline enables others to make plays is exactly what a second-level defender like Deion Jones needs. 

My 2019 take from Davidson’s player profile:

"After an exciting junior season, many expected Davidson to declare for the 2019 draft. But Davidson, along with Derrick Brown, decided to return for their senior seasons. Davidson was able to show off his versatility. While he was a productive player on the collegiate level, he will face challenges with finding ways to win in the NFL. Opinions remain mixed on his best position, but with his lack of bend, it would serve him best if he transitioned inside to be a 3-technique in a four-man defensive front or as a 4-technique in a 3-4 defense. He never will be a defender that fills up the stat sheet, but for teams that are looking for a first-level defender that will simply do eat up gaps and do his job within the scheme, Davidson will be a favorable target."

For more “General Manager Speak,” see Cincinnati, Miami, Detroit, Arizona, New York Giants, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina, Oakland, San Francisco and Minnesota’s executives discuss their 2020 draft class.

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