Peach State Sports Blog

Falcons' first pick

I was really surprised by the Falcons' pick Thursday in Sean Weatherspoon. He's probably the most overated player in the draft and is not really a good pick, in my mind.

We'll see how he pans out.

Here is The Associated Press' Paul Newberry's story on the Falcons' first-round pick Thursday night.

Even after signing Dunta Robinson, the Atlanta Falcons were still focused on defense in the NFL draft.

The Falcons selected Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with the 19th overall pick Thursday night and believe he’ll make an immediate impact on a unit that was ravaged by injuries, didn’t get much pressure on the quarterback, and gave up a huge amount of passing yards.

“We were very excited to have the opportunity to take an outside linebacker who’s going to ramp up our speed, our enthusiasm, our athleticism,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “In our minds, this guy is going to be a four-down player for us.”

Weatherspoon was thrilled, too.

“I’m a falcon!!!” he tweeted before his selection was even announced.

The Falcons also coveted Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, but he was taken one pick earlier by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, another player who would’ve filled a major need, was taken 16th by the Tennessee Titans.

Dimitroff insisted the Falcons got the guy they had targeted all along. From talks with the Steelers, he knew they were targeting one player in particular and correctly surmised it was Pouncey. When the Eagles selected Michigan’s Brandon Graham, it started a run on defensive ends that scooped up South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 15 to the Giants) and Morgan.

There was little drama left when Atlanta went on the clock.

“He’s a guy who can match up and play the tight end as well as play the box,” coach Mike Smith said. “In our division, we’re going to face some very athletic tight ends. That’s something, as we went through the process, we wanted to have an opportunity to counteract that. That position is crucial for our defense.”

The 6-foot-1, 239-pound Weatherspoon should step up the production at either of the outside linebacker positions, which were manned last season by Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson, who will be 34 at the start of next season.

“If (Pouncey) had been sitting there at the same time as Sean,” Dimitroff said, “we still would’ve picked Sean.”

A second-team All-American as a senior, Weatherspoon had 4.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for losses and 111 tackles overall. He put up even more impressive numbers as a junior — 155 tackles, 18.5 stops behind the line and five sacks. He led the Tigers in tackles his last three seasons and finished 10th in Big 12 Conference history with 413 career stops.

Weatherspoon bulked up to 251 pounds last year to play one of the inside linebacker spots in Missouri’s 3-4 defense. He’s back down to 239 pounds, which the Falcons feel is his ideal weight.