Good morning! Welcome to The Cover 9@9 blog. It's our weekly blog of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, who are here in Indianapolis to work the scouting combine. Instead of our normal nine items, we decided to drop the blockbuster pre-combine mock draft today. Enjoy!
Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff has protested the notion of trading running back Tevin Coleman.
But he didn’t say anything about not trading Devonta Freeman.
Now, did he?
The Falcons’ message since the end of the season has been consistent.
In the end-of-season press conference and through a couple of local radio interviews this week, Falcons coach Dan Quinn and Dimitroff have continued to build on the “under-executed” and not “under-achieved” theme of last season.
That still sounds like semantics and certainly sounds like some fingering pointing at the players.
The players do share some of the burden for the 11-7 season and the dumpster fire that was the offense.
The drop passes, penalties, not fighting back to the ball with the game on the line and missing a blitz pickup in the playoffs (again) were just some of the plays that didn’t fall on the coaches.
However, there were some coaching issues, too.
Quinn got all fired up when he was asked about offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian being forced to call Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He pointed out that it was the “Falcons’ offense.”
The offense remained flawed no matter who was calling it.
Sarkisian, like Shanahan, had to try to get too cute in short-yardage situations and the deep passing attack was never productive.
The coaches should have learned from the third-and-1 debacle in Super Bowl LI that they needed to add some better power options in short-yardage situations.
The Falcons haven’t had a lead-blocking fullback since Ovie’s Mughelli was released in 2011.
Quinn said Wednesday that the Falcons would address short-yardage situations, perhaps with a fullback.
“In the low red zone in some areas, we are going to run it,” Quinn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They know we are going to run it and we are going to do it anyway.”
With a smallcut-blocking line, some power is needed to clear out holes for the running backs. Otherwise, your season can end on the 2-yard line.
We’ll see if Quinn and Dimitroff were warming up for the combine while doing some local radio or if they have some new things to say today when they take the podium in front of the national media.
Well, let’s get on to the mock draft.
There are three plays that keep popping up from the playoff game loss to th Eagles:
The play at the end of the game where Julio Jones nearly made a circus-like catch on a quarterback rollout that took away most of the field.
Coach Tony Dungy pointed to Keanu Neal’s flubbed interception. He’s not a gazelle and it look like he misjudged his jump.
The play that’s been bothering me the most was the missed blitz pick up by Freeman. Another Super Bowl lesson not learned.
The Falcons were sitting pretty after the Eagles kicked the ball out of bounds. But Freeman’s second whiff in the playoffs was just as costly as the one in the Super Bowl.
The look Ryan gave Freeman could have pierced his heart. He was ticked off. It was on the stadium’s big screen for all of the #FlyEaglesFly nation to see.
You want to send a message about “under executing” then ship Freeman off to San Francisco for their ninth or 10th pick in the draft. Use the first- and a third-rounder to move up from 26 in order to select massive Washington tackle Vita Vea. He would be the best player available to help the defense that could lose Dontari Poe.
Coleman and Terron Ward, since they will also block, can handle the running back duties henceforth. The Falcons could address running back in free agency or later in the draft.
The message would be clear: Everybody blocks in this brotherhood.
2018 NFL Draft: First-round order (We project Oakland to win the coin toss)
The draft order was finalized after the Super Bowl.
1. Cleveland Browns — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
2. New York Giants — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. Indianapolis Colts — Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
4. Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
5. Denver Broncos — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
6. New York Jets — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Derwin Jones, DB, Florida State
8. Chicago Bears — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
9. Oakland — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
10. Atlanta Falcons — Vita Vea, DT, Washington
11. Miami Dolphins — Quentin Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
12. Cincinnati Bengals — Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
13. Washington Redskins — Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
14. Green Bay Packers — Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
15. Arizona Cardinals — Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
16. Baltimore Ravens — Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
17. Los Angeles Chargers — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
18. Seattle Seahawks — Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
19. Dallas Cowboys — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
20. Detroit Lions — Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
21. Buffalo Bills — Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs) — Arden Key, LB , LSU
23. Los Angeles Rams — Josh Johnson, CB, Iowa
24. Carolina Panthers — Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan
25. Tennessee Titans — Connor Williams, OT, Texas
26. San Francisco 49ers — Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State
27. New Orleans Saints — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia TEch
28. Pittsburgh Steelers — Rashaad Evans, LB, Alabama
29. Jacksonville Jaguars — Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
30. Minnesota Vikings -- Will Hernandez, OG, Texas El-Paso
31. New England Patriots -- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
32. Philadelphia Eagles -- Mike McGlinchey, OG, Notre Dame