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.
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.