Cocoa Mel, aka Seminole Warrior, the CEO of Tee Pee Sports, managing six of picks for the 2017 NFL Annual Selection Meeting, and acting as lead agent for the Atlanta Falcons, respectfully submit the following selections. Our vision: The building of a team core and laying a foundation for the future.
As always, I want to pay homage to my draft mentors, Sensei Ozzie Newsome and Mel Kiper. Like the great Sensei, we will NEVER reach for a player; we will simply move on to the best player available at an immediate position of need. After all, our single mission is to acquire and develop productive football players.
Simply put, an infusion of defensive talent continues to be first and foremost for the team. So, let us get right to the heart and soul of the matter in the two rounds.
PRIMARY: OLB/ILB Jarrad Davis – University of Florida
SECONDARY: OLB/ILB Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt University
First, to HELL with this bull—- of converting K. Ismael to linebacker. We need the depth at safety. This is one stupid move in the eyes of Tee Pee Sports. Sorry. I got carried away. Back to regular programming.
The Atlanta Falcons have not had a presence at middle linebacker since the release of Curtis Lofton. We attempted to change that last season with a mid-round selection. Post Super Bowl, it is now PRIORITY ONE.
Davis and/or Cunningham would bring INSTANT impact to the core of the Falcons defense. Both of these guys are serious football players, strong leaders, and astute students of the game. Both members of this dynamic SEC duo were clearly among the most productive and tenacious linebackers Tee Pee Sports has scouted in some time. Their drive and desire are relentless; both possess great sideline to sideline range as well as excellent anticipation skills, and utilize solid tackling techniques.
Both Davis and/or Cunningham can be disruptive when asked to blitz and either player would be an upgrade in pass coverage skills over any linebacker currently on the roster. Both tend to be a little overactive at times but quality coaching can clean this up in short order. Each represents the real deal!!!
Acquiring either of these immense talents and pairing him with rising stars Deion Jones and Vic Beasley would give the Falcons a linebacker corps of unparalleled talent, youth, and potential. The key elements of versatility, speed, tenacity, and improved coverage ability would IMMEDIATELY UPGRADE the intermediate pass game defense that was SERIOUSLY exposed by the Patriots in the second half of the Super Bowl. (PS: Yep, that is the REAL reason we lost the damn game!!)
ROUND TWO Primary Pick: FS Budda Baker – University of Washington
ROUND TWO Secondary Pick: DE/DT Demarcus Walker – Florida State University
The Falcons defensive backfield has the potential to be a great one. With CB Desmond Trufant and SS Keanu Neal looking like long term stars, the free safety position needs to NOW be addressed. Given the recommendations given in round one related to the upgraded linebacker corps, a dynamic, ball-hawking free safety is a MUST. And in the Pacific Northwest, Tee Pee Sports has found him.
Enter Washington’s Budda Baker. While scouting Baker, TPS constantly found comparisons to former Pro Bowl free safety Bob Sanders. The comparison is valid in our eyes. If we can get that kind of productivity from our free safety, the sky is the limit. Baker is the epitome of a free safety – a focused defender that displays strong tenacity and incredible scheme focus. Baker is always near the ball with a fiery presence. He displays great skill in pass coverage as he displays nice closing speed, the ability to change direction in coverage, and excellent field vision. His tackling technique is very solid and he is a physical presence. He has the heart of a lion and the ability to be a MAJOR upgrade at the position as well as a perennial Pro Bowler.
Speaking of legitimacy, the Falcons need a LEGIT presence at the defensive end position. Coach Dan Quinn needs a presence on his defensive front that is capable of being a force inside and outside. He needs a “Michael Bennett” like presence for his scheme. The Gulfstream next landed in Tallahassee.
Demarcus Walker represents OUTSTANDING value here. In terms of defensive ends, JB appears to be as solid as any of the so-called “true” defensive ends in this draft class. His work ethic, total team first attitude, willingness to play through pain, and dedication to improving all facets of his game, are critical facets that Tee Pee Sports feels strongly about. Walker is outstanding against the run and a presence as a pass rusher. Like Bennett, Walker also has the ability to move inside and impact the defensive interior. Think of him as the next Jonathan Babineaux. There are a few issues with technique that could be cleaned up with quality coaching but this pick represents great value!!
PRIMARY: OG Dan Feeney – Indiana University
SECONDARY: OG Dorian Johnson – University of Pittsburgh
The Falcons are STILL in need of OL depth across the board. Jake Matthews, in the eyes of Tee Pee Sports, is NOT the long-term answer at left tackle. But there is nothing we can do about it in the weak tackle class of 2017.
Both offensive guard positions remain in a state of flux as Chris Chester is no more (retired) and Andy Levitre remains inconsistent. In 2017, given that he is a “slightly” better run blocker than pass protector as well as his cap figure, Tee Pee Sports will move Levitre into the right guard spot vacated by the retirement of Chester.
With that move, the staff took trips to Bloomington, IN and Pittsburgh, PA where they discovered a pair of very promising prospects that would excel in the zone blocking scheme and could become starters on day one in Atlanta.
Guards Dan Feeney and Dorian Johnson are both technically solid, position versatile, and leaders on the field. Both represent great value at this juncture in the draft and have the upside going forward to become very solid NFL players.
PRIMARY: RB Samaje Perine – University of Oklahoma
SECONDARY: FS/SS Xavier Woods – Louisiana Tech University
The Falcons are on the verge of a great move by retaining two-time Pro Bowl RB Devonta Freeman for the long haul. He needs a compliment. Tevin Coleman is a speed demon but can’t stay healthy. Given the extreme value Freeman gives the team as a cut back rusher and receiving option out of the backfield, TPS will allow Coleman to move on and find a larger compliment for Freeman.
The TPS G5 jet landed in Norman, Oklahoma where we found Samaje Perine. NFL Networks’ Mike Mayock , on the occasion of OU’s Pro Day, stated that SP reminded him of former Charger and Falcon Michael Turner. After reviewing more film, at 5’ 11 and 230 pounds, the comparison, both in terms of size and talent, are very accurate, friends. SP represents the total package; consistent in all facets – a true “thunder” compliment to the “lightning” represented by DF24.
The need for additional depth at safety is enhanced with the selection of Xavier Woods. The immensely talented All Conference USA player is a focused defender that displays strong tenacity and incredible scheme focus. He is always near the ball with a fiery presence. He displays great skill in pass coverage as he displays nice closing speed, the ability to change direction in coverage, and excellent field vision. His tackling technique is very solid and he is a physical presence. Though undersized in many eyes, Xavier Woods could be effective at either the FS or SS positions.
ROUND FIVE: TE Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech
At tight end, Austin Hooper is showing signs of promise. Depth at the position is a need for Atlanta as the tight end is a critical element of the West Coast Offense. Tee Pee Sports strikes again with truly outstanding value at this point in the draft.
At Virginia Tech, Bucky Hodges was a steady, improving force on a football team that was often offensively challenged until a head coaching change last season. Hodges is the prototypical tight end; a great combination of size and athleticism for the position. His movements are always smooth and he displays a great catch radius. Hodges can climb the ladder and win the battles with LBs/DBs with ease. Solid hands and the ability to separate in the intermediate game. Nightmarish red zone potential as he continues to fine tune his game. Shows some skill as a blocker with upside evident if afforded proper coaching and additional physical conditioning.
There are some things that need to improve in his game but the upside here is incredible. The potential for a Tony Gonzalez/Jimmy Graham like career is not out of the question if this potential is truly tapped. One of the best hidden gems in this draft class and an ABSOLUTE sleeper in the right hands.
ROUND SEVEN: QB Nathan Peterman – University of Pittsburgh
Matt Ryan is entering his prime as a NFL quarterback. The four-time Pro Bowler and reigning MVP is the most under-appreciated Atlanta Falcon EVER. Despite the constant and wishy-washy nature of the Falcon fanbase, MR2 serves as the field general for one of the most lethal offensive units in the NFL.
However, depth behind him is a SIGNIFICANT issue. It is time that the Falcons begin to develop that depth and perhaps, an eventual replacement. Once again, value strikes.
Nate Peterman is a very solid quarterback and has solid potential. He has nice touch on his passes at time and is solid placing the ball downfield. He has good pocket awareness and displays solid mobility. He is not afraid to tuck and secure yardage if the play is not there. Displays the ability to be patient and allow the route/play to unfold. Comfortable with three, five and seven step drops. Compiled a 47-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio the past two seasons at Pitt. Married (April 2016) with a mature lifestyle — high character individual and worker.
A true and honest review of film shows that Peterman needs some work but his upside is very promising. At times, he looks great and confident. Other times, he can frustrate the hell out of you. But at this stage in the draft, he is a developmental prospect that could become MUCH more. And having time to learn from one of the best students of the game and a true professional, MR2, can only serve as the ultimate motivation.
So, there you have it. The 2017 edition of what the defending NFC Champions need to address in the eyes of the Tee Pee. Let the discussion, pro or con, now begin….