2016 Draft Report Card: Falcons earn a C-minus

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn discussing the draft on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn discussing the draft on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH – Wanted to wait a little bit for the dust to settle after the 2016 NFL Draft to complete the report card.

Didn’t want to over-react in the rush to quickly judge the six new picks. Listened closely and re-read the transcripts from general manger Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn talking about the picks and the rationales for selecting this group.

After digesting all of that information, I'm not really sure that the Falcons picked up the three starters that owner Arthur Blank coveted, but I do think they landed a future star and starter at tight end and two intriguing developmental prospects in linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and guard Wes Schweitzer.

First-round pick Keanu Neal indeed may become a big-time player in the NFL, but it's hard not to call the move a "reach" pick. We explain that in the breakdown article 

Also, Jones, may indeed become a fine linebacker, but he only started 12 games at LSU. He couldn’t beat out Kwon Alexander, who was a fourth-round pick in 2015 by Tampa Bay. Darron Lee and Vonn Bell would have been better picks. Or Darron Lee and Darian Johnson would have been a better speedy linebacker-safety combo in the first two rounds.

Because I think the Falcons didn’t pick the best player available and could have picked an even batter safety-speedy linebacker combo in the first and second round, I would not be able to sleep well by giving them anything higher than a C-minus for this draft.

NFL.com gave the Falcons an A-minus.

CBS' Pete Prisco gave the Falcons a B.

The Sporting News gave the Falcons a C.

Fans on NFL.com gave the Falcons a D-plus





Here's a look at the players the Falcons selected:

Keanu Neal during the Gators' game against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, November 28, 2015 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey

Keanu Neal, safety, Florida

Round: First (17th overall)

Height: 6-feet | Arm length: 32 3/4″

Weight: 211 pounds | Hand size: 10 5/8″

40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds (Tied with Clemson’s Jayron Kearse for ninth-fastest among safeties)

Bench press: 17 reps of 225 pounds (Tied with Miami’s Deon Bush for fifth-most among safeties)

Vertical jump: 38 inches (Tied with Southern Utah’s Miles Killebrew for second-highest among safeties)

Broad jump: 132 inches (Longest among safeties)

Three-cone drill: 7.09 seconds (Eighth-fastest among safeties)

20-yard shuttle: 4.38 seconds (11th-fastest among safeties)

60-yard shuttle: 11.58 seconds (Fifth-fastest among safeties)

Overview: As expected, Neal’s freakish athleticism was on display at the combine. His broad jump was impressive, as he finished three inches ahead of second-place T.J. Green from Clemson. CBS Sports had Neal rated as a fourth to fifth-round prospect early in the pre-draft process.

Deion Jones, LSU. (Associated Press)

Deion Jones, linebacker, LSU

Round: Second (52nd overall)

Height: 6-feet 7/8| Arm length: 32 3/8″

Weight: 222 pounds | Hand size: 9 1/4″

40-yard dash: 4.38 seconds

Bench press: 18 reps

Vertical jump: 35 ½

Three-cone drill: 7.13 seconds

Overview: Jones is a speedy player. He gives the Falcons another player who can cover running backs. Falcons coach Dan Quinn has repeatedly talked about getting faster on defense this offense. Jones was the fastest of all of the linebackers at the scouting combine. He was a finalists for the Butkus Award and was the Tigers leading tackler and defensive most valuable player last season.

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 30, 2014: Austin Hooper during Stanford's game against Maryland in the 2014 Foster Farms Bowl. The Cardinal defeated the Terrapins 45-21.

Austin Hooper, tight end, Stanford

Round: Third (81st)

Height: 6-foot, 3 ¾ inches | Arm length: 33 3/4″

Weight: 254.pounds | Hand size: 10 5/8″

40-yard dash: 4.68 and 4.71 seconds

Bench press: 19 reps of 225 pounds (Needs to get stronger)

Vertical: 33 inches

Broad Jump: 9 feet, 9 inches

Three-cone drill: 7 seconds

Overview: He’s considered an athletic pass-catching tight end who had to wait his turn at Stanford. Some believe that he could have benefitted from another year of seasoning in the college ranks. He can develop into a mismatch option-route runner as a receiver. He’s also played some H-back and a motive and move tight end. Some scouts believe that he’s a better prospect than former Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry, who was selected early in the second round.

De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. (Associated Press)

De’Vondre Campbell, linebacker, Minnesota

Round: Fourth (115th overall)

Height: 6-foot, 35/8 inches | Arm length: 33 5/8″

Weight: 232 pounds | Hand size: 9 5/8″

40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds

Bench press: 16 reps of 225 pounds (Needs to get stronger)

Vertical: 34 inches

Broad Jump: 9 feet, 8 inches

Three-cone drill: 7.07 seconds

Overview: Played both inside and outside at Minnesota. He has discussed playing the weakside linebacker with Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich. He started 13 games and started 11 games. He finished third on the team with 92 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. He had a time-high four sacks. He was named all-Big Ten honorable mention b the coaches and the media.

Wes Schweitzer working against Stanford. (Associated Press)

Wes Schweitzer, guard, San Jose State

Round: Sixth (195th)

Height: 6-feet, 5-inches

Weight: 314 pounds

Bench press: 28 reps of 225 pounds

Overview: He played some left and right tackle in college. He’s was a fifth-year senior and two-year starter at left tackle. Played in 31 games with 25 career starters. He was honored in 2012 and 2015 on National Student-Athlete Day by the National Consortium for Academics & Sports. He’s a three-time academic all-conference award winner.

Devin Fuller, UCLA. (Associated Press)

Devin Fuller, wide receiver UCLA

Round: Seven (238th overall)

Height: 6-feet

Weight: 195

40-yard dash: 4.36 seconds at pro day

Overview: Fuller hauled in just 24 catches last year as a senior. Fuller was a former Army All-American athlete prospect out of high school. He struggled to find a niche in UCLA’s offense. He shuffled between playing some slot as a junior to playing outside as a senior in 2015. He also a potential kickoff and punt returner. He won the Captain Don Brown Memorial Award for most improved player on offense at the annual team banquet.


Sunday, April 17 -- QUARTERBACKS

Rams quest for franchise quarterback behind big trade --Wentz or Goff?

D. Led’s breakdown of the Quarterbacks

A look at the top 10 Quarterbacks in the draft


D Led’s breakdown of the Running backs -- Is Derrick Henry the next Charles Muncie?

A look at the top 10 Running backs


D. Led’s breakdown of the Wide receivers

A look at the top 10 Wide receivers

Wednesday -- TIGHT ENDS

D. Led’s breakdown of the Tight ends

A look at the top 10 tight ends


D. Led’s breakdown of the Offensive linemen

A look at the top 10 offensive linemen


D. Led’s breakdown of the Defensive linemen

A look at the top 10 defensive linemen 

Saturday, April 23 -- LINEBACKERS

Falcons searching for hybrid linebacker/safeties

D. Led’s breakdown of the Linebackers

A look at the top 10 linebackers

Sunday, April 24 -- CORNERBACKS

D. Led’s breakdown of the cornerbacks

A look at the top 10 cornerbacks

Monday, April 25 -- SAFETIES

D. Led’s breakdown of the Safeties

A look at the top 10 Safeties

Tuesday, April 26

D. Led’s breakdown of the Specialists, kickers, punters and returners

A look at the top 5 punters and top 5 kickers

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