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2011 NFL Draft Picks, Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Dent Part Of A Local Color Initiative?

The locality of this year's Falcons draft is almost certainly a nice coincidence and nothing more, but Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff's admission that Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green was just as much a target as eventual draftee Julio Jones gets you thinking maybe the team's marketing department has a seat in the Falcons' war room.

Since their inception four decades ago, the Falcons have labored far behind the state of Georgia's most beloved sports team - the University of Georgia - in terms of popularity. Third round pick Akeem Dent doesn't have the name recognition of a Green, Matthew Stafford, or Knowshon Moreno that a casual fan could instantly gravitate towards, but if Dent  were to develop into a Pro Bowl linebacker it could move some UGA fans indifferent to the Falcons off the fence.

Ironically, the Falcons' linebacker position has seen plenty of Georgia born, Georgia bred talent over the years (Valdosta State's Jessie Tuggle and Georgia Tech's Keith Brooking the most notable), but not a Bulldog. Dent will likely rotate with young linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton before possibly one day replacing graybeard Mike Peterson

A UGA selection from Dimitroff's team isn't new - they selected Thomas Brown in 2008 before releasing him a year later. Georgia Tech's Vance Walker has seen some time at defensive tackle, and with Jones as potential marquee name, the state of Alabama is up for grabs.

It might sound silly to be concerned about the footprint of franchise's fan base after four decades of existence, but Dimitroff's brazen rewriting of history is forcing the Falcon's marketing team to do the same. Besides, you have to worry about these things in America's Worst Sports Town Ever.

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