Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: Kirwan's draft plan to improve the Falcons' defensive line

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter joins CineSport’s Noah Coslov to identify the players that the Falcons may be able to land with the 17th pick in the Draft & discuss impressive players on offense.

1. KIRWAN'S DRAFT PLAN FOR THE FALCONS: Pat Kirwan, the former NFL executive turned broadcaster, has a very clear draft plan for the Atlanta Falcons.

"I'm starting to look at teams that have really bad problems, like the Atlanta Falcons and their defensive line," Kirwan said in a video for the Real Football Network. (He's not really down with you fantasy people!)

He believes the Falcons must  improve their interior rush like Carolina did when they drafted Star Lotulelei (first round, 14th overall) and Kawann Short (second round, 44th overall) in the 2013 draft.

Then he rattled off the stats.

--last in league with sacks with 19. "That has to change," Kirwan said.

--Giving up 20 rushing touchdowns. "That's terrible," Kirwan said.

--He likes defensive end Vic Beasley, but he practically didn't get any help last season. "He's going to be a force," Kirwan said. "But he has no support around him."

--He points out that Ra'Shede Hageman has two sacks in 32 games.

--Jonathan Babineaux, the team's best interior rusher, has four sacks in his last 34 games.

--Drew Brees had 82 pass plays against the Falcons, who could muster just one sack.

Kirwan also believes the Falcons need a left end to play opposite of Beasley. He mentioned Clemson's Shaq Lawson, Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah, Baylor's Andrew Billings or Mississippi' Robert Nkemdiche.

Then the Falcons should stay with the defensive line in the second round.

2. UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: These players are set to become unrestricted free agents on March 9.  There isn't anyone in the group that the Falcons need to keep off the open market. Chris Chester, RG; Adrian Clayborn, DE/DT; O’Brien Schofield, OLB/DE: Philip Wheeler, LB; Charles Godfrey, SS; Tony Moeaki, TE; Shayne Graham, K; Kroy Biermann, DE; Gino Gradkowski, C/G; Jake Long, OT; Bryce Harris, OT.

At the combine, Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the team wanted to re-sign defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebacker/defensive end O'Brien Schofield. He also indicated that the team was moving forward with Matt Bryant as the kicker.

3. RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Paul Worrilow, LB; Ryan Schraeder, RT and Nate Stupar, LB. The team will make a move on the tenders over the weekend.

4. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: Ricardo Allen, FS and Ben Garland, OG.

5. GOOD LUCK TO POLK:  DeJuan Polk, who was essentially demoted in the Falcons’ restructured scouting department, was named assistant director of pro personnel by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday.

Polk, was formerly the pro personnel coordinator, and was moved over to the college scouting department recently. Polk had been with the Falcons for 10 seasons.

“I had the pleasure of working with DeJuan in Atlanta from 2008-2012 and know firsthand what he can bring to an organization,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. “As a former player and coach, he has a unique eye for talent and will be a valuable asset for our personnel department.

“I’m excited for DeJuan and his wife, Katrina, and we expect him to be involved right away as we enter free agency.”

Prior to serving as pro personnel coordinator, he spent four seasons as a pro scout and was responsible for scouting all professional leagues; including 15 NFL teams as well as advance scouting.

Polk served as a college scout for the Falcons during the 2008 season, covering the midwest region and conferences.

Polk started his tenure with the organization in 2006 as pro personnel assistant and helped the personnel department coordinating free agent workouts, maintaining the “short-list” and advance scouting of future opponents.

He coached at South Carolina State and was a four-year letterman at Clemson as a defensive tackle from 1999-2003.


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.