NFC South: Maurkice Pouncey

Despite all the smoke screens and all the hype, the Atlanta Falcons went ahead and did exactly what they should have. They went with defense.

[+] EnlargeSean Weatherspoon
Brad Schloss/Icon SMISean Weatherspoon will be a key component in Atlanta's defense next season.
The Falcons drafted linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with the No. 19 pick Thursday night. It wasn’t flashy (like Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas would have been) and it wasn’t trendy (like center Maurkice Pouncey could have been). But it was the right call.

You’ve got to believe Weatherspoon was one of the two players the Falcons realistically went into the night knowing they’d gladly take at No. 19. Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham probably was the other. Graham was gone before the Falcons ever got near the clock and the only question was whether Weatherspoon would still be there.

He was, and the Falcons pounced and filled an obvious need. They already have a very good middle linebacker in Curtis Lofton. But Mike Peterson is getting older and Stephen Nicholas was good, but not great, in his first year as a starter. There wasn’t much depth behind them.

But Weatherspoon wasn’t drafted for depth. He’ll make Peterson or Nicholas into depth and he’ll become a focal point of a defense that’s going to get two more boosts no matter what else happens in the draft.

Defensive tackle Peria Jerry and safety William Moore, Atlanta’s first two picks in last year’s draft, are coming back from injuries. Picture them healthy when the season starts and picture Weatherspoon with them.

All of the sudden, Atlanta’s defense looks a lot better than it did at the end of last season.


Around the NFC South

March, 5, 2010
On a very busy first day of free agency, we haven't had time to get to everything going on in the NFC South. So let's catch up on some other developments with a quick trip through some headlines.

The battle over “Who Dat’’ takes another twist with a Louisiana corporation filing a lawsuit against the NFL.

D. Orlando Ledbetter’s got a new mock draft up and his pick for the Falcons is a bit of a surprise when most people are assuming the Falcons will draft a defensive end or a linebacker with the No. 19 pick. Instead, Ledbetter’s got them taking center Maurkice Pouncey. Hey, this might not be a bad call. Veteran center Todd McClure is getting older and this could be a need position.

Former Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Carlson has a good overview of how the Bucs sit at his former position. I especially agree with him when he says Josh Johnson can be a quality backup to Josh Freeman. Johnson’s a guy with some talent and some intangibles. He’s a good guy to have behind the franchise quarterback.

Washington general manager Bruce Allen said the Redskins did not pursue free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers.

There was an internet report earlier today that the Buccaneers had “huge’’ interest in Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman. There may be some interest there, but nothing is imminent. Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik told WDAE’s Steve Duemig that the Bucs aren’t in hot pursuit of anyone. But don’t completely rule out Kampman. He’s an older guy coming off a knee injury. If he sits out there a bit and the price tag drops, then the Kampman scenario could become huge.

You can see the entire transcript of Jake Delhomme’s farewell news conference in Carolina here.

Derrick Brooks acknowledges his playing days likely are over. This should have come a year ago. But the Bucs still need to wrap this up the right way because Brooks is the best player in franchise history. Re-sign him for a day, call a news conference to formally announce his retirement and give him a proper sendoff.

New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita has scheduled a visit with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. But don’t rule out him re-signing with the Saints.