Falcons conclude 2013 NFL Draft


Before the draft began, many experts as well as Falcons fans knew the Falcons were going to focus on defense in during the seven rounds of the draft.

It started on Thursday night when the Falcons took cornerback Desmond Trufant from Washington in the first round at No. 22.

The Falcons continued that trend on Friday night when they drafted cornerback Robert Alford in the second round.

The Falcons did not have a third round pick because they traded it to the St. Louis Rams in order move up in the first round and grab Trufant.

No worries for the Birds because they still had a lot of picks in the final day of the draft and it started in the fourth round when they selected defense end Malliciah Goodman out of Clemson and tight end Levine Toilolo out of Stanford.

Goodman, who is expected to play left defensive end, was one the players the Falcons took a closer look at as the coaches went to Clemson’s Pro Day and worked him out.

“I was actually with their strength coaches,” Goodman said. “He took me through a bunch of agility things, backpeadling and all that stuff. The work out went great. They’ve been real good and they impressed me.”

Toilolo was another player the Falcons targeted heavily and he enjoyed working out in front of Falcons officials as well as visiting the facilities.

“Leading up to the draft, they were the only team I went out for a visit other than the 49ers because they had a local thing,” Toilolo said. “I got to know some of the coaches and the personnel staff around there. I loved it out there, so like I said, I couldn’t be happier with this situation.”

Toilolo is also happy about learning from one of the best to ever play the tight end position Tony Gonzalez.

“It’s just like being a freshman again,” Toilolo said. “I’m going to ask him as many questions as I can and just kind of shadow him as much as I can to learn from in my opinion the best tight end to play the game.”

In the fifth round, the Falcons moved up 10 spots to take defensive end Stansly Maponga out of TCU. Maponga tallied 15.5 sacks in three seasons and was selected to the All-Big 12 First-Team last season. NFL.com compared Maponga to Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson because of his compact and powerful build.

The Falcons made their final three picks in the seventh round including two back-to-back picks. With the back-to-back picks the Falcons addressed the secondary and took safety Kemal Ishmael from Central Florida and safety Zeke Motta from Notre Dame.

Ishmael was voted as Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year by the head coaches as was also named to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List. Motta played in 51 games in his career with the Irish and tallied a career-high 77 tackles last season.

“Kemal and Zeke were two guys we had in the middle of the draft,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Another couple we feel are very aggressive guys.”

Dmitroff went on to say that Ishmael is one of the surest tacklers the Falcons have evaluated this year.

“He’ll stick his nose the right way and the proper way,” Dimitroff added. “That was something we were coveting here.”

The Falcons general manager went on to talk about Motta and said that even though he had a slow 40 time, he is still a very good football player.

“He has range, he has toughness and size,” Dimitroff said. “He’s a 217-pound safety that has a confidence and a swagger about him.”

With the Falcons final pick of the draft, they take quarterback Sean Renfree out of Duke. Renfree had a very strong season for the Blue Devils as he threw for over 3,000 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He is looking to compete for the backup quarterback spot along with Dominique Davis. Renfree did not take part in the combine or Duke’s Pro Day because he is healing from a shoulder injury.

It was clear that Dimitroff, Smith and the rest of the Falcons officials wanted to address the depth of the defensive side of the ball and they did that by drafting six defensive players. However, they did add tight end depth as well as quarterback depth.

“Our focus was going to be on defense in the entire draft,” Dimitroff said. “We’re real excited about what we pulled off in this draft. We fell like we accomplished a lot of our needs. We got down and dirty and got after some people. We think we’ve acquired a number of people through the draft that are going to help us and make this football team.”

The next step for the Falcons is the signing of rookie free agents which will be done by Sunday. Then the Falcons will host a rookie mini-camp which has to be done before the beginning of June. A mandatory minicamp is set for mid-June and training camp will take place at the end of July.

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