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2011 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons' Draft Tendencies Analyzed

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Over the next two-and-a-half months I'll be previewing each position of need for the Atlanta Falcons all the way up until the 2011 NFL Draft. I kicked things off already but before we move forward we need to take a look back. To accurately analyze which players Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith might select this year, it's important to understand what their previous tendencies have shown. I present the Falcons draft strategy analyzed.

Beginning in 2008, the Falcons have drafted 26 players. Of those, 21 are still on the team. A success rate of 81 percent. I don't know what the NFL average has been but 81 percent seems like it'd rate pretty high.

Defensive back has been the most popular position with eight selections in three years. In fact, DBs have accounted for 31 percent of all 26 Dimitroff-Smith picks. The next most popular position has been linebacker followed by defensive tackle. Reinforcing Atlanta's defensive deficiencies, 17 of the 26 draft picks - 65 percent - have been on the defensive side of the ball. The rest of the list follows.

Position Total # Drafted % of Total
DB 8 31%
LB 5 19%
DT 3 12%
T 2 8%
WR 2 8%
C 1 4%
DE 1 4%
G 1 4%
QB 1 4%
RB 1 4%
TE 1 4%

 

The Falcons have drafted only two juniors since 2008 and they both played for the University of Oklahoma. Curtis Lofton in 2008 and Dominique Franks in 2010.

The most popular school for Falcons' draftees is a four-way tie between LSU (Keith Zinger, Chevis Jackson), Missouri (William Moore, Sean Weatherspoon), Montana (Kroy Biermann, Shann Schillinger) and the aforementioned Oklahoma Sooners.

The current Falcons regime has preferred the SEC as their conference of choice with 23 percent (six players) of the draft picks coming from the Southeastern Conference. The full list follows.

Conference # of Players % of Draft Picks
SEC 6 23%
BIG 12 5 19%
ACC 4 15%
PAC-10 4 15%
BIG SKY 2 8%
BIG EAST 1 4%
COLONIAL 1 4%
MOUNTAIN WEST 1 4%
SOUTHERN 1 4%
WAC 1 4%

 

Now that we have the basic structure down, we can start to build a profile. First criteria: the player is a senior. The Falcons have drafted 24 seniors to only two juniors. The two times they went for a junior it was an amazing talent (Lofton) or a player with huge upside who slipped in the draft (Franks). Barring those options, you can bet they'll stay to true to form and take a senior.

All things being equal, the Falcons have leaned towards the SEC for talent. This, however, hasn't always been productive. Only three of six SEC-draftees are still with the team. The true goldmine for the Falcons has been the Big 12 with all five draftees still with the team. Mizzou and Oklahoma each have two players on the Falcons with Kansas holding the other spot.

Interestingly, the one player who fits the "Falcons Draft Profile" the most was a player who is no longer on the team: Chevis Jackson. Jackson was a senior defensive back from the SEC, a Falcons wish list bonanza. The player that fits the profile the most this year - based on Scouts, Inc. ratings - is Ole Miss cornerback Jeremy McGee.

Keeping these things in mind as we approach the 2011 NFL Draft could allow you to claim "Draft Expert" status when you predict who the Falcons will take this season.

For more NFL Draft talk, visit Mocking The Draft.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.