With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, inevitably the immediate grades have come out. While they are a lot of fun to pick over, deep down we all know that it takes at least three years for a draft to develop. So with three years of game time experience lets look at the 2008 class. We'll take a look at each team's class individually, as a whole, and take a look at what they were saying immediately after the 2008 draft.
We have looked at the Arizona Cardinal's draft, and now we turn out analytical eyes to the dirty south and the Atlanta Falcons...
Round 1: 3(3) Matt Ryan QB Boston College Grade: A+
- When you score grabbing a franchise QB in the draft, it almost doesn't matter who else gets drafted. Ryan is going to be the face of Falcon football for another decade.
Round 1: 21(21) Sam Baker OT USC Grade: B+
- Has been a starter at LT since his rookie season, but he isn't considered among the elite tackles in the game. Solid starter, but replaceable, or moved to RT, if the right talent becomes available.
Round 2: 6(37) Curtis Lofton LB Oklahoma Grade: A-
- While not considered in the same league as say, Patrick Willis, Lofton has been the starting middle linebacker, and very productive one, since being drafted. A mainstay and leader on the defense.
Round 3: 5(68) Chevis Jackson CB LSU Grade: D+
Round 3: 21(84) Harry Douglas WR Louisville Grade: C+
- Missed 2009 with a torn ACL. In 32 games, Douglas has 614 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Round 3: 35(98) Thomas DeCoud S California Grade: B-
- A full time starter the past two seasons, but not much of a ball hawk with only 4 INTs.
Round 5: 3(138) Robert James LB Arizona State Grade: D
- Reserve LB that rarely sees the field. Not on two deep.
Round 5: 19(154) Kory Biermann OLB Montana Grade: A
- Steal may not be the appropriate word. Most 5th rounders spend their careers supplying depth. Beirmann is starting opposite Abraham and is a focal point of the defense. If he can do it without Abraham remains to be seen, but to get that kind of effort and production this late in the draft is big.
Round 6: 6(172) Thomas Brown RB Georgia Grade: F
- No longer in NFL
Round 7: 5(212) Wilrey Fontenot CB Arizona Grade: F
- No longer in NFL
Round 7: 25(232) Keith Zinger TE LSU Grade: F
- No longer in NFL
1 Pro Bowlers, 5 Starters, and 1 Back-ups - Some key starters, but none more important than the franchise QB
Overall Draft Grade: A
Here is what Mel Kiper had to say after the 2008 Draft:
Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: B
I thought they would take DT Glenn Dorsey, but the Falcons needed a face for the franchise, and had to take QB Matt Ryan. He should be a great starting point; a new era of Falcons football begins. USC OT Sam Baker wasn't healthy in 2007, he struggled in Senior Bowl practices and he has short arms for a left tackle. I like Baker, but I thought it was a bit of a reach moving up to get him. Linebacker Curtis Lofton is a decent second-round pick, but I really like what Atlanta did in the third round, taking WR Harry Douglas, CB Chevis Jackson and safety Thomas DeCoud. Kroy Biermann is a good pass-rusher. Wilrey Fontenot played opposite Antoine Cason at Arizona, although he'll be more of a dime back. RB Thomas Brown is not real big, and he's going to be battling Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood for playing time in the backfield.
Here is what Pete Brisco had to say after the 2008 Draft:
Best pick: Some questioned their decision to trade back into the first round and get USC tackle Sam Baker, but it was the right move. He was a four-year starter for the Trojans and will be a 10-year starter for the Falcons, beginning as a rookie.
Questionable move: Taking Matt Ryan third overall. If Dorsey goes on to be a star and Ryan isn't the franchise passer they expect, look out.
Second-day gem: LSU corner Chevis Jackson, taken in the third round, doesn't run as well as scouts like, but he has everything else needed to be a successful corner on the next level.
Overall grade: B. I wouldn't have selected Ryan third overall, but they needed a passer. I get it. The rest of the draft was very good. Trading up to get Baker will pay off in a big way. Second-round pick Curtis Lofton is a run-stuffing linebacker and Jackson capped it off.