Falcons went against the grain, stayed away from SEC players in 2013 draft

While the rest of the National Football League was gobbling up players from the SEC, the draft-savvy Falcons repeatedly bypassed the nation’s premier college football conference.

The SEC, which has dominated the college football landscape for much of the last decade, had 63 players selected over seven rounds, including 12 each in the first- and third-rounds. A total of 10 SEC players were selected in the fifth round, eight each in the second-, fourth- and sixth-rounds and five in the seventh-round.

Alabama (9), LSU (9), Florida (8), Georgia (8) South Carolina (7), Texas A&M (5), Arkansas (4), Tennessee (4), Mississippi State (3), Missouri (2), Vanderbilt (2), Auburn (1) and Kentucky (1) all had players selected.

The Falcons entered the draft with 11 picks, but traded away their third-, sixth- and seventh-round picks. They ended up with eight players, but none from the SEC.

The Falcons selected two players from the Pac 12 and ACC. They also selected players from Big 12, Conference USA, Southland and from Independent Notre Dame.

The Falcons didn’t bypass the SEC by design this year. It was just the way their value board flowed.

“Probably the one position that we were focused on thinking that we might be able to walk away with was the (weakside) linebacker spot or a linebacker spot,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “As we started looking at other positions and the values and what we thought was the talent there, we thought it would override what we were looking at in the linebacker area.”

In the first round, Dimitroff made a trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up eight spots. The Falcons had to get in front Minnesota and New England in order to select Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.

Three picks later, Minnesota selected Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes and disgusted New England traded out of the first round.

If the Falcons would have stayed put at 30, they likely would have selected an SEC player in Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay. The Brunswick native went 36th to Detroit.

In the second round, Dimitroff said the Falcons knew they were “hanging tight at 60.” They had to watch as defensive ends Tank Carradine (40, San Francisco), Margus Hunt (53, Cincinnati) and linebacker Arthur Brown (56, Baltimore) were selected.

The Falcons made Southeastern Louisiana cornerback Robert Alford the first player from a FCS school selected when they took him with the 60th pick overall. Green Bay snapped up Alabama back Eddie Lacy on the next pick and LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu went to Arizona at 69.

In the third round, the Rams selected West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey with the pick (92nd overall) they received from the Falcons.

In the fourth round, the Falcons selected Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman (127th overall) and Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo (133 overall). The compensatory pick they received for losing linebacker Curtis Lofton in free agency was used on Toilolo.

When selecting Goodman, the Falcons were passing on South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who went four picks later to San Francisco. NFL.com analyst Charlie Casserly, a former longtime general manager, considered Lattimore the steal of the draft.

In the fifth round, the Falcons sent their seventh round pick to the Bears to move up 10 spots to pick Texas Christian defensive end Stansly Maponga, a speed-rusher with a broken foot. Mississippi State defensive end Josh Boyd was drafted 167th overall by Green Bay.

The Rams traded the Falcons’ sixth-round pick to the Texans, who selected Bowling Green offensive tackle Chris Jones.

In the seventh round, the Bears used the Falcons’ pick to draft Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson 236th overall.

The grades on the Falcons’ SEC-less 2013 NFL draft have started to roll in.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper gave the Falcons a B for an overall grade and a B-plus in drafting for the needs and a B for drafting for value. He lauded the Falcons’ back-to-back pick of cornerbacks at the top of the draft.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Video: Quinn on McKinley and Julio Jones 
Video: Quinn on McKinley and Julio Jones 

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn answers questions about rookie defensive end Takkarist McKinley and wide receiver Julio Jones after reviewing the first day of practice.
Quinn on Jones: ‘He felt good on most of his cuts’
Quinn on Jones: ‘He felt good on most of his cuts’

Two-time Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, who’s recovering from offseason foot surgery, apparently is working through some issues with his surgically repaired foot although he looked fine in pass-catching drills during the first practice of training camp Thursday. Jones was jumping to make some catches and didn’t appear to have...
McKinley impressive in drills
McKinley impressive in drills

Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was one of the first players on the field for the opening practice of training camp Thursday. He went off to the side, alone, and swung his left arm in a big looping motion and then his surgically repaired right shoulder and arm. Everything felt good, and he nodded his head. He was ready to start his professional...
Garland opens training camp with first-team offense
Garland opens training camp with first-team offense

When the Falcons went offense against defense in passing drills Thursday, Ben Garland was working at right guard with the first unit, and Wes Schweitzer with the second unit.  Rookie Sean Harlow, a fourth-round draft choice out of Oregon State, drew snaps with the second unit at left guard. “Ben was the one that started the whole thing off...
Video: D. Led’s early takes on first practice 
Video: D. Led’s early takes on first practice 

Here some observations from the early portion of the Falcons’ first practice on Thursday: 1. Julio Jones looked very comfortable moving around and making catches. 2. Running back Devonta Freeman needed some extra stretching from the training staff.  3. First-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley, who’s coming back from shoulder surgery...
More Stories