Mel Kiper Talk About Falcons Draft Picks
If the Atlanta Falcons were hosting a segment of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, the word of the day would be “pass rusher.”
If the position was defined at a spelling bee, it would read, “something the Falcons need more than anything in the NFL Draft or in free agency.”
Yes, it’s that bad.
The topic is now being discussed by Mel Kiper, Jr., who said the team will have plenty of options when it’s time to choose eighth in the NFL Draft. Kiper, who commented on ESPN.com, did not go as far as to say which pass rusher would best suit the Falcons needs under new head coach Dan Quinn, but he did say the team would choose one from the pool of talent available.
Kiper obviously is a big fan of Florida's Dante Fowler, a guy he believes will be off the board when the Falcons pick. Remember, Fowler was recruited to the Gators by Falcons coach Dan Quinn when Quinn was Florida's defensive coordinator.
"Fowler could be gone because he had a solid workout and he has the ability to play ... I mean this kid is as productive; when he lowers that pad level, he has unbelievable strength," Kiper said. "He is a guy that is awesome in terms of power. Dante Fowler, forget the reps he did, I think 19. He plays like someone who did 35 reps. He's as powerful with the pads on as any defensive end you've seen in a while. So he's going to go high."
Kiper also praised Clemson's Vic Beasley, a Georgia native who dominated the combine workouts.
"Beasley's going to go, I think, top 10," Kiper said. "When you put the combined production -- 25 sacks the last two years, 33 the last three years, 44 1/2 tackles for loss last year -- [and] he had a phenomenal workout. I can't see him getting out of the top 10."
Kiper said Nebraska's Randy Gregory, projected as a top-5 pick by some, will slip a little because he came in light. And Missouri's Shane Ray didn't participate in the combine due to a toe injury, so he still has work to do before the draft.
TEAM EXTENDS BRYANT
In a move that was expected and will help continue to keep the special teams unit a strength of the franchise, the Falcons have extended the contract of kicker Matt Bryant.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the deal is a three-year extension for Bryant, who was a bright spot on the 6-10 team last season.
Negotiations went pretty smooth. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the deal was close last Thursday at the scouting combine.
The Falcons are not overly concerned about Bryant’s age. He’s set to turn 40 in May.
“Matt has some age in his leg, but again, Matt is one of those guys who takes care of his body,” Dimitroff said. “He’s fine-tuned as far as his flexibility and his hydration, because that’s another part of it. I’m not concerned about it as far as what we are looking to do. I think he’s still got years left in him.”
Bryant has been with the Falcons since 2009. He’s made 148 of 167 field goals attempts (88.6 percent), including 18 of 24 from 50 yards are longer. He has become the second-leading scorer in franchise history, with 666 points. He’s 140 points shy of Morten Andersen’s club record of 806 points.