Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Meet the guy who didn't hate the Falcons' draft


Hello there. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the guy who didn’t hate the Atlanta Falcons’ draft. Esteemed colleague Darryl Orlando Ledbetter marked it as a C-minus . Pro Football Focus gave it a D-plus. SI.com awarded a D . Mel Kiper of ESPN handed down a B-minus. That's seriously tepid stuff.

Far be it from me to disagree with folks who cover the NFL/draft on a daily if not hourly basis, but I return to my original thought. Dan Quinn’s defense is a stylized thing. (Not in the Wide Tackle Six sense, but it's not the Tampa Two, either.) He needs specific commodities in certain places. Keanu Neal could be the strong safety the Falcons lacked. Deion Jones should be an immediate upgrade over the Falcons’ incumbent linebackers.

If nothing else, the Falcons’ defense got faster and stronger. I have a difficult time seeing that as a bad thing. As for not picking a pass rusher: The Falcons picked one of those last season. The fervent hope is that Vic Beasley Jr. – who was hurt for much of the season, though the Falcons didn’t exactly tell us that – will be a double-digit sack man in Year 2. (If you’d doubled his yield of Year 1, he still wouldn’t have broken two figures.)

They needed a tight end. They got Austin Hooper in Round 3. As for wide receiver and offensive line, two positions the Falcons didn’t get around to addressing until late in this draft: We note that their two big free-agent purchases were for a wideout and a center. You can't get everything in three days.

With only five picks going into the draft – a sixth was added in a trade down – this was never apt to be a comprehensive haul. This was targeted as a surgical strike on positions of major need. We cannot know if these efforts were successful. Not all draft picks pan out. (Two words: Aundray Bruce.) But I give the Falcons credit for knowing their deficiencies and trying to remedy them.

For what they wanted and needed, I thought they did fine. And it’s been a while since I’ve said that about anything involving the Falcons.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.