The Atlanta Falcons are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
ATLJBO in Atlanta writes: I see you are hinting towards Brian Williams starting on the other island opposite of Dunta Robinson. In one of Thomas Dmitroff recent interviews, he said Brian Williams will be in the competition for the inside position. Inside meaning a nickel back. I personally think Brian Williams is depth.
Pat Yasinskas: You very well could end up being right on that and nobody would be happier than the Falcons if it plays out that way. I’m simply saying Williams is the leader for a starting job right now because he’s experienced and played well in a starting role before his injury. But the Falcons are going to let Chris Owens, Brent Grimes and Chevis Jackson compete for the second cornerback spot. They have high hopes for all of those young guys. If one of them really steps up, the Falcons would be happy to use Williams as their nickelback. If they end up having to start Williams, he is at least reliable.
Joe in Perrysburg, Ohio, writes: I am a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan and I am curious to know whether or not they will pursue a wide receiver via free agency or the NFL Draft? As of now, the Falcons have two solid receivers in Michael Jenkins and Roddy White. However, Harry Douglas will be a mystery going into the 2010 season because of his ACL injury and Brian Finneran didn’t accomplish much this past season. I feel they need just one slot receiver, possibly like a Derrick Mason, Antonio Bryant or whoever to bolster the offense. What are the chances that Dimitroff will sign a wide or slot receiver?
Pat Yasinskas: First off, I think Bryant and Mason come with higher price tags than the Falcons are willing to pay. Second, and more importantly, they truly are counting on Douglas being a big factor this year. The one positive is that it happened so early in the preseason that he’s had plenty of time in the recovery progress and the knee shouldn’t be an issue by training camp. The Falcons loved what Douglas showed as a rookie. They think he can be the slot guy this year and, maybe, eventually challenge Jenkins for a starting job.
Tyler in Calgary, Alberta, writes: Most people thought the Falcons would address their secondary with the first pick, but with the signing of Dunta Robinson that won't happen. Do you see them going DE or OLB with that pick?
Pat Yasinskas: I suspect they’ll go with one of those positions in the first round because those are the biggest needs and Dimitroff likes to target needs. But it’s hard to choose between the two spots right now. Drafting in the latter half of the first round means the Falcons are at the mercy of the teams in front of them. In general terms, I’d say you have a better chance of hitting on a linebacker in their spot than you do of getting a sure-thing at defensive end. Atlanta’s recent history (Jamaal Anderson) shows there are no guarantees at defensive end, even if you have a top-10 pick.
Jim in Chino Hills, Calif., writes: Pat, I think all rational Falcon fans realize that Dunta Robinson is not a Revis shutdown-type of corner, and that we undoubtedly overpaid a bit to get him. However, he will be a definite upgrade to what we had last year. However, since the signing I've seen a lot of 'experts' talking about how horrible Robinson has been the last several years....Just sour grapes ? Whats' the real take?
Pat Yasinskas: From the people I’ve talked to, the consensus is Robinson didn’t have a good year last year, but that may be largely because he was coming off ACL surgery. A lot of people will tell you that it’s not until the second year after surgery that a player really gets back to full strength. I’m sure the Falcons did their medical homework and their share of scouting on Robinson. Yes, they might have overpaid to some degree. But Robinson is an upgrade over what they had last year. He also was the best corner on the market that wasn’t already getting near the end of his career, and he was better than any corner the Falcons could have taken in the second half of the first round.