NFC South: Taylor Mays

Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition

April, 14, 2010
Good news for Atlanta fans. You’re going to get almost a double dose of a Falcons’ mailbag. Your responses to the item from a few days back about Atlanta’s struggles in play-action passing were so strong and diverse that I’m going to do a separate post to highlight some of your replies. I’ll do that one either tonight or Thursday.

But, first, here’s the Atlanta stop on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Jeff in Atlanta writes: I was just looking at the insider article about what round defensive players should be taken. I see they have Brandon Graham slated as an outside linebacker. Does this mean the "experts" don’t think he would be as productive in a 4-3 DE position as he would in a 3-4 as an OLB?

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t break down film like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. But the word I’ve heard on Graham is that he could fit in either system. Obviously, the Falcons run a 4-3 defense and I see Graham as a very real possibility with their first-round pick. The thing I like best about Graham is that he produced at a pretty high level throughout almost his entire career and he did it against some strong competition. He might not have the upside of some of the other defensive ends in this draft, but I think the bust factor is pretty low with this guy.

Ned in Canada writes: Reports are Ted Ginn is on the block, I believe Atlanta should send a 4th or 5th round pick for him. It’s not a big risk if he flops as a WR you still get an elite return specialist, and if he does well as a WR he would solidify their WR core. What do you think?

Pat Yasinskas: Rarely do you ever rule anything out and I’m not going to rule this one out because the Falcons could use some depth at wide receiver. That said, I think it’s a long shot because the Falcons firmly believe in building through the draft and don’t like to part with their picks. Receiver is not an area of desperation. They’ve got Roddy White as their No. 1 guy and Michael Jenkins as their No. 2. I know a lot of people don’t think that highly of Jenkins. But I will say this, he fills the role the Falcons want at that spot. With White and tight end Tony Gonzalez, they’re not looking for a No. 2 receiver to produce 80 catches. They want someone who can block and catch the ball in traffic. Jenkins does those things. They also have high hopes for Harry Douglas as he returns from an injury and Brian Finneran is a dependable veteran backup.

Jeff in Charleston, S.C., writes: Have you heard any whispers that the Falcons are looking to make a trade offer for Vikings DE Ray Edwards (RFA)? I don't believe Edwards has signed his tender yet and he has until Thursday if I'm not mistaken, correct?

Pat Yasinskas: Nope, haven’t heard anything on that one at all. Deadline to make offers to restricted free agents is Thursday.

Adam in Atlanta writes: Something hit me this morning about the draft. What do you think about the Falcons taking Taylor Mays to play outside linebacker at 19? Kind of like the Panthers did with Thomas Davis. He's definitely fast enough and he hits like a freight train. Is it too much of a risk that early?

Pat Yasinskas: Hmm, I hadn’t really thought of that one. Actually, might not be a bad idea. But I still think the Falcons go with a defensive end in the first round. I think upgrading their pass rush is, by far, their biggest need.
The New Orleans Saints are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Danielle in New Orleans writes: What do you think the Saints are going to do with Darren Sharper?

Pat Yasinskas: They’re playing it smart and letting Sharper test the market. They want him back, but the fact is they’ve got a business to run and have to do it this way. Sharper is a 34-year-old safety. Obviously, he’s coming off a tremendous year. But how much longer can he continue playing like that and what’s his real value? I’m sure the Saints have a price tag in mind and Sharper is seeing what’s available. He wants to return to New Orleans and I suspect he’ll give the Saints a chance to match any offer he might get elsewhere. As long as the price is reasonable, I think the Saints will keep him.

Nick in Lubbock, Texas, writes: First of all great job predicting the Super Bowl; it seemed the media bias clouded everyone's judgment. Anyway, what do you think about the Saints drafting Taylor Mays and moving him to SS to pair with Malcolm Jenkins at FS? I'm not impressed by Roman Harper.

Pat Yasinskas: Hey, I was just lucky on the Super Bowl pick. If I could call them like that all the time, I’d be living in Las Vegas and wouldn’t need to write for a living. As far as the safety situation, your scenario makes sense and I wouldn’t rule it out. But I’m not as down on Harper as you are. I thought he had a very solid season last year. He’s a strong safety and the main job description there is to hit people. Harper does that. He had some problems earlier in his career when weaknesses around him left him in coverage too long. With good corners, the Saints no longer have to rely too much on Harper.

Chris in Austin, Texas, writes: Is it crazy to think that the Saints have possibly downgraded their defense since the Super Bowl? It's been apparent that they could use a run stuffing DT, a pass rushing DE, and an upgrade at OLB. They released Charles Grant, lost Scott Fujita to FA, and are allowing Darren Sharper to test the waters. With being limited in free agency because of the championship how are they going to replace these players and upgrade certain positions? Sure the draft can produce help as well as filling in the holes with players already on the roster but doesn’t that translate into going backwards instead of forward?

Pat Yasinskas: I see your points and respect your logic. But the NFL is cyclical and nothing stays the same for long. Fact is, Fujita had a nice season last year, but he is getting older. Grant didn’t have a nice season and he already was old -- for a defensive lineman. Even though Sharper still may return, he already is old. The Saints have some young guys like Malcolm Jenkins who need to step up. Although they can’t do much with true free agents, they can sign guys who have been cut elsewhere and there are a lot of them out there. And a need or two could be filled in the draft. Maybe the defense doesn’t look as good now as it did in January. But let’s wait to see how it looks in September.

Justin in Ponchatoula, La., writes: What position are Saints going to target in the first round of the draft?

Pat Yasinskas: With the Saints picking No. 32, it’s hard to say they’ll lock in on any certain position because so much depends on what happens with the teams ahead of them. But I think it’s fair to say the obvious needs are at defensive end, outside linebacker and maybe safety.

NFC South mailbag

March, 9, 2010
Matt in Atlanta writes: There has been so much talk and movement with cornerback this off-season, which is a huge need for the Falcons, but I was really concerned when I saw that Harvey Dahl was unsigned going into the offseason as well. I believe he could be a strong, long-term staple on our line. Is there any news on his situation?

Pat Yasinskas: Dahl is a restricted free agent and I seriously doubt the Falcons will let him go even if he gets an offer from another team. Dahl is a tough and consistent player on a pretty good offensive line. The Falcons don’t want to lose him.

Derek in Mandeville, La., writes: I was reading yesterday that now that the Saints have lost Scott Fujita to the Browns, the Saints are able to go after a 2nd tier free agents. So because that they are bringing in Leonard Little and possibly Jamal Williams this week, what impact could either of those 2 guys make to our current defensive line rotation?

Pat Yasinskas: Just because the Saints are having those guys in for visits doesn’t mean they’re going to sign them. They both would be nothing more than rotation players. Yes, the Saints are in the market for some depth on the defensive line, but I think they’re just doing their homework at this point. Guys like Little and Williams could still be available much later in free agency at very reasonable prices.

Scott in New Orleans writes: What will the Saints do if they lose Sharper? Are Taylor Mays and Chad Jones viable options for New Orleans? I like them both.

Pat Yasinskas: First off, I still think there’s a good chance Darren Sharper re-signs with New Orleans. If he doesn’t, I think his replacement might come from within. The Saints used last year’s top pick on Malcolm Jenkins and decided to try him at cornerback first. Jenkins did all right there as a rookie, but Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter established themselves as elite corners last year and they’re not going anywhere. Jenkins has the size and skills to switch to safety. Teams usually like to have a first-round pick starting by his second season.

Adrian in Augusta, Ga., writes: Hey Pat, love the blog man. When are we going to get that mock draft featuring all the ESPN blog stars?

Pat Yasinskas: Not sure if that’s happening or not. I’ll run it up the ladder. But I know that last year the bosses decided against it because they felt we already had a glut of mock drafts on our Web site.

Lee in Kenansville, N.C., writes: Is there any possibility that Darren Sharper might be going to Carolina?

Pat Yasinskas: Not going to happen. Look at what’s going on in Carolina with the youth movement. The Panthers aren’t going to suddenly reverse all that in bring in a 34-year-old.

Aaron in Greensboro writes: What's the word on Jake Delhomme? Any thoughts or rumors as to where he might end up?

Pat Yasinskas: Quiet so far, but I think Delhomme eventually will land somewhere as a backup. I’ve already theorized Tampa Bay and New Orleans could be logical landing spots for him. His days as a starter may be over, but the fact he’s intelligent and a good guy in the locker room still give him some value as a backup.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21