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2011 East-West Shrine Game: Jeff Maehl, Bruce Miller, Joseph Barksdale Potential Falcons Draft Picks

The 2011 East-West Shrine Game isn’t loaded with first-round talent, but there are several players the Atlanta Falcons fan should keep an eye on. None of these players are likely to be very highly drafted, but IT’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON A SATURDAY and it is precious. (Complete East-West Shrine Game rosters here.)

Defensive backs: Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel; Mario Butler, CB, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The Falcons have been trying to fix their defensive backfield for three years now. It’s made big strides, with William Moore and Brent Grimes having mini-breakout years after an excellent 2009 by Thomas DeCoud, plus Dunta Robinson’s decent year in solo coverage, but the Green Bay Packers exposed the team’s lack of cornerback depth.

Defensive linemen: Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona Wildcats; Bruce Miller, DE, Central Florida Knights; Martin Parker, DT, Richmond; Aldrick Robinson, DE, SMU Mustangs

The pass rush needs some help, especially with John Abraham’s career winding down. This draft isn’t deep in many areas, but the East-West game is full of good value defensive linemen.

Offensive linemen: Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU Tigers; Jah Reid, OT, UCF

With at least one starting offensive lineman likely to move along in free agency, the Falcons are going to have to add depth to make up for Mike Johnson, Joe Hawley, or Garrett Reynolds taking a starting job.

Receivers: Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon Ducks; Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union; Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State

Let’s face it: that passing game is one-dimensional. Tony Gonzalez won’t be around forever, and the only young receivers the Falcons have are all highly unproven.

Running backs: Da’Rel Scott, Maryland Terrapins

If the Falcons are able to re-sign Jason Snelling, they’ll have the big back thing on lock, with Michael Turner and Ovie Mughelli also on board. Jerious Norwood is presumably gone, so the team is going to have to either hope Gartrell Johnson is the answer or grab that dual-threat change-of-pace back during the offseason. Most of the backs in the East-West Game are big bros, so it should be easy to pick out Scott.

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