Atlanta Falcons: Top 10 Prospects

Matt Ryan (Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Scout.com's Chris Steuber continues the top 10 prospects series, and starts his breakdown of the NFC South by profiling the Atlanta Falcons. In this series, an NFL prospect is classified as a player entering their third year in the NFL or under 25 years of age. Find out who the Falcons top 10 prospects are entering the 2010 season.

Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
QB
6-4
213
3
25

The No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and the future of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, Matt Ryan has displayed the leadership, poise and production of a seasoned veteran in his first two years in the league. The winner of the '08 Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Ryan has completed 59.7-percent of his passes for 6,356 yards, 38 touchdowns and 25 interceptions since being named the starting quarterback. Ryan started every game as a rookie and missed two games this past season due to turf toe. The Falcons have the talent to compete in the NFC South, and if Ryan stays healthy, they could dethrone the New Orleans Saints as the division winner.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 1st Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
LB
6-0
242
3
24

The Falcons drafted their quarterback of the future on offense in the first round of the '08 draft, and they selected their signal caller on defense in the second round in former Oklahoma standout Curtis Lofton. Just like Ryan, Lofton immediately became a starter and was productive from the beginning. He's been a durable asset playing in every game over the last two years, and has been a huge factor in the middle for Atlanta, piling up 227 tackles and a sack during that time. While Lofton has piled up the tackles, the impact stats of sacks and interceptions are non-existent. For Lofton to be recognized as one of the league's elite linebackers, he will have to generate those numbers.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 2nd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
LB
6-1
239
R
22

A three-year starter at Missouri, Weatherspoon amassed more than 100 tackles in every year that he started for the Tigers. At 6-foot-1, 239 pounds, Weatherspoon has the ability to be a game changing type of defender who plays with unparalleled enthusiasm, and possesses the versatility to play inside or outside in any defensive structure. Weatherspoon will likely be the starting WILL linebacker for the Falcons this season and will contend for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 1st Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
DT
6-2
294
2
25

After being the Falcons first round pick in 2009, Peria Jerry was expected to sure up Atlanta's woes in the trenches. But after starting the first two games last year, Jerry sustained an ACL tear to his left knee that cut his rookie campaign short. In those two starts, Jerry only had one tackle. There's still concern about Jerry's knee, and during OTA's last month, he was still visibly limping. Even though there's concern, Jerry has the talent to warrant being the No. 4 prospect in the organization. But, if he's unable to recapture his previous form, it will spell bad news for the Falcons defense.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 1st Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
OT
6-5
307
3
25

In '08, the Falcons traded back into the first round to select the man they envisioned protecting Ryan's blind side for the next 10 - 15 years in former USC offensive tackle Sam Baker. But, in his first two years in the league, Baker has been slowed by injuries and has yet to fulfill the hopes of the Falcons coaching staff and front office. Baker has missed 10 games during his short career and has started 19 of the 22 games he's appeared in. Entering his third year, this could be a make or break season for Baker. He has the potential to be great, but he will have to stay healthy to earn being the fifth rated prospect in the organization.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 1st Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-10
181
3
26

It's been a long journey for former Shippensburg star Brent Grimes. He's was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Falcons, was then allocated to NFL Europe (when it was in existence), had to work his way up through the Falcons practice squad, and finally made the 53-man roster a couple of years ago. And this past season, he emerged as an impact player at the NFL level. Starting eight of the 16 games he played in, Grimes recorded 66 tackles and six interceptions. The success that Grimes had in '09 allowed the Falcons to trade underachieving CB Chris Houston to the Detroit Lions this offseason. And with Dunta Robinson added to the mix, the Falcons now have a tremendous corner tandem with Grimes’ emergence.

Signed by Atlanta as an undrafted free agent (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
S
6-0
218
2
25

As a junior in 2007, William Moore set a Missouri school record for interceptions with eight, and if he had decided to forego his senior year, he would have been a first round pick in the '08 draft. But, he decided to stay in school and unfortunately was hampered by numerous injuries that didn't allow him to play up to his abilities. Despite the injuries he endured as a senior, Moore was selected in the second round of the '09 draft. He only played in two games last year, as a knee and hamstring injury forced him onto the injured reserve list. The Falcons have high expectations for Moore, and he could challenge Erik Coleman for the starting strong safety job this preseason. But if injuries continue to occur, they may never witness his true ability.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 2nd Round (2009).
Thomas DeCoud
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
S
6-0
193
3
25

A third round pick in '08, Thomas DeCoud, after spending most of his rookie season on special teams, played a huge role as a starter at free safety in '09. Starting all 16 games, DeCoud was outstanding and registered 68 tackles and three interceptions. He's received high praise this offseason and is expected to assume a larger role as a leader this year.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 3rd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-0
182
3
25

Harry Douglas has a chance to be a great player with the Falcons, and he showcased Marvin Harrison-like ability during his rookie season in 2008 when he caught 23 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown. But, he had a setback during training camp last year when he tore the ACL in his left knee, which forced him to miss the entire '09 season. Douglas is expected to be healthy for the start of training camp, and if he regains his '08 form during the preseason, he will be the Falcons slot receiver and could cut into Michael Jenkins' reps.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 3rd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
DT
6-3
260
3
24

There were a few players on the Falcons roster that received consideration for the 10th spot, but the versatility and production that Kroy Biermann has displayed over the last two years elevated him into the final slot. A fifth round pick in '08, Biermann played in all 16 games as a rookie and recorded 21 tackles and two sacks. And this past year, again playing in all 16 games and starting two of them, Biermann exploded for 49 tackles and five sacks. He's proven to be a valuable contributor on defense and special teams, and if Jamaal Anderson, who appears to be a first round bust, continues to struggle, Biermann could take over for him in the starting lineup.

Drafted by Atlanta in the 5th Round (2008).


For more on the Falcons, check out Falcon Insider.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.

ScoutNFLNetwork.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Forums


30 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets