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Competition Expected On Youthful D-Line

Posted May 1, 2013

The Falcons wanted to get younger and they did just that in the offseason. During the draft, they added two more young pass rushers to their defensive front and battles are expected to ensue.

In the 2013 draft, the media experts said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff needed to get a defensive end. He waited until Round 4 to address that position and then he addressed it again.

With the 127th overall pick, Dimitroff and the Falcons selected Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman and then later in the fifth round he took another defensive end, drafting TCU's Stansly Maponga with the 153rd overall pick.

Both rookie draft picks enter the fray at defensive end and will mix it up in one of the premier position battles in training camp.

"There will be a lot of competition throughout that front in our mind," Dimitroff said on Saturday after the draft. 

Goodman and Maponga join offseason free agent addition Osi Umenyiora and returning Falcons Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews.

Following the draft, the Falcons signed two additional ends in their college free agent class, Central Florida's Cam Henderson and Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Brandon Thurmond

Goodman brings some of the longest arms of anyone in the draft to the Falcons. He's listed at 6-foot-4 and 276 pounds and his 36 3/8-inch arms were the longest of any defensive lineman at the NFL Combine. In fact his arms were almost as long as any other player at the NFL Combine, second only to offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, a draftee of the Chargers.

His 11-inch hands are also rather large and those measurables helped create interest for Dimitroff and the Falcons. The playing style of Goodman and his hands was described by pre-draft scouts as "violent" and Dimitroff said those big hands help release from and fight off blocks from opposing linemen.

"He can stick them into the breastplate and manipulate the offensive lineman, the blocker," Dimitroff said. "He has the ability to shed. He’s a manipulative kind of defensive player with those strong hands. He’ll continue to learn with our defensive line coach here, Sugar Bear (coach Ray Hamilton), and (defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan and I think he’ll continue to get more and more aggressive off the left side.”

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A starter in 28 games at Clemson, including his final 27 straight, Goodman recorded 127 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery. His eight forced fumbles are second all-time at Clemson. Dimitroff thinks Goodman's a versatile D-lineman and he anticipates the end finding a home on the left side

"He’s 275-plus pounds," Dimitroff said of Goodman's rookie size. "He could be a 290-pound left defensive end, 5-technique, if we needed him to be. (He) has the versatility both at five-technique or you can move him outside a little bit more. He can rush up the field on the outside and also has the ability to hold the point. We like his versatility. We looked at him as mostly a left defensive end."

Goodman set a Clemson school record with 767 defensive snaps as a junior in 2011 and he was named Clemson's defensive player of the game in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU with three sacks. As a freshman he was named to the ACC's first-team freshman team in 2009.

Maponga, according to Dimitroff, is expected to be the team's pass-rushing specialist, a role not unlike the one envisioned for Massaquoi this season behind projected starter Umenyiora, and a toe injury that caused him to miss some of the 2012 season isn't expected to linger.

"We like Maponga's ability to get up the field," Dimitroff said. "He's a very, very strong guy. He’s a 30-rep bench guy. Nice speed, nice ability to turn the corner. He’s your prototypical pass-rushing specialist type. He’s healing up a little bit from an injury and we’re confident he’ll be ready to go as the season begins.”

Dimitroff is confident about Maponga's healing ability and Maponga told The Dallas Morning News on Monday that he knows he's the best end in the draft.

Dimitroff said they envision Maponga at right end and the work with Umenyiora and Massaquoi will be good for his development. Maponga started 34 of a possible 36 games at TCU, totaling 113 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and four passes defensed. He was a first-team All-Big 12 player in 2012 and the previous season he was just one of four players to rank in the top 10 in forced fumbles (5) and top 20 in sacks (9).

Biermann led the current group of ends in sacks last season with four. Umenyiora had six with the Giants in 2012 and the remainder of the ends did not have any. In his post-draft press conference, Dimitroff shared his desire to get younger in a number of places on the roster and end appears to be one of them. Last season the average age of the ends on the Falcons roster was just under 27 years old and entering training camp this year the average age will be a little over 24 years old.

In the 2013 draft, everyone said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff needed to get a defensive end. He waited until Round 4 to address that position and then he addressed it again.

With the 127th overall pick, Dimitroff and the Falcons selected Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman and then later in the fifth round he took another defensive end, drafting TCU's Stansly Maponga with the 153rd overall pick.

Both rookie draft picks enter the fray at defensive end and will mix it up in one of the premier position battles in training camp.

"There will be a lot of competition throughout that front in our mind," Dimitroff said on Saturday after the draft. 

Goodman and Maponga join offseason free agent addition Osi Umenyiora and returning Falcons Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews.

Following the draft, the Falcons signed two additional ends in their college free agent class, Central Florida's Cam Henderson and Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Brandon Thurmond. 

Goodman brings some of the longest arms of anyone in the draft to the Falcons. He's listed at 6-foot-4 and 276 pounds and his 36 3/8-inch arms were the longest of any defensive lineman at the NFL Combine. In fact his arms were almost as long as any other player at the NFL Combine, second only to offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, a draftee of the Chargers.

His 11-inch hands are also rather large and those measurables helped create interest for Dimitroff and the Falcons. The playing style of Goodman and his hands was described by pre-draft scouts as "violent" and Dimitroff said those big hands help release from and fight off blocks from opposing linemen.

"He can stick them into the breastplate and manipulate the offensive lineman, the blocker," Dimitroff said. "He has the ability to shed. He’s a manipulative kind of defensive player with those strong hands. He’ll continue to learn with our defensive line coach here, Sugar Bear (coach Ray Hamilton), and (defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan and I think he’ll continue to get more and more aggressive off the left side.”

A starter in 28 games at Clemson, including his final 27 straight, Goodman recorded 127 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery. His eight forced fumbles are second all-time at Clemson. Dimitroff thinks Goodman's a versatile D-lineman and he anticipates the end finding a home on the left side

"He’s 275-plus pounds," Dimitroff said of Goodman's rookie size. "He could be a 290-pound left defensive end, 5-technique, if we needed him to be. (He) has the versatility both at five-technique or you can move him outside a little bit more. He can rush up the field on the outside and also has the ability to hold the point. We like his versatility. We looked at him as mostly a left defensive end."

Goodman set a Clemson school record with 767 defensive snaps as a junior in 2011 and he was named Clemson's defensive player of the game in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU with three sacks. As a freshman he was named to the ACC's first-team freshman team in 2009.

Maponga, according to Dimitroff, is expected to be the team's pass-rushing specialist, a role not unlike the one envisioned for Massaquoi this season behind projected starter Umenyiora, and a toe injury that caused him to miss some of the 2012 season isn't expected to linger.

"We like Maponga's ability to get up the field," Dimitroff said. "He's a very, very strong guy. He’s a 30-rep bench guy. Nice speed, nice ability to turn the corner. He’s your prototypical pass-rushing specialist type. He’s healing up a little bit from an injury and we’re confident he’ll be ready to go as the season begins.”

Dimitroff is confident about Maponga's healing ability and Maponga told The Dallas Morning News on Monday that he knows he's the best end in the draft.

Dimitroff said they envision Maponga at right end and the work with Umenyiora and Massaquoi will be good for his development. Maponga started 34 of a possible 36 games at TCU, totaling 113 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and four passes defensed. He was a first-team All-Big 12 player in 2012 and the previous season he was just one of four players to rank in the top 10 in forced fumbles (5) and top 20 in sacks (9).

Biermann led the current group of ends in sacks last season with four. Umenyiora had six with the Giants in 2012 and the remainder of the ends did not have any. In his post-draft press conference, Dimitroff shared his desire to get younger in a number of places on the roster and end appears to be one of them. Last season the average age of the ends on the Falcons roster was just under 27 years old and entering training camp this year the average age will be a little over 24 years old.

 


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