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Early Bird Report 1/26: Analyzing Falcons defense and special teams; NFL mock draft

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes an analysis of the Falcons' defense and special teams as well as another mock draft.



*Atlanta Journal-Constitution: *Analysis of Falcons' 2017 defense, special teams

Soon after the season ended, D. Orlando Ledbetter provided his position-by-position analysis of the Falcons' offense for the *AJC. *Now, Ledbetter is back to share his evaluation of the Falcons’ defense and special teams.

Ledbetter first analyzes Atlanta's defensive line, which improved from 34 sacks in 2016 to 39 sacks in 2017. Ledbetter graded the defensive line's performance this season as a B-plus. The linebackers received the highest grade from Ledbetter of any position on the team. Led by Deion Jones, who was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career, the Falcons linebackers were a dominant unit at times and were given an A grade.

The secondary earned a B-minus for their performance, but each starting defensive back played at a high level at various points of the season. Despite another great season from kicker Matt Bryant and a steady performance from punter Matt Bosher, the Falcons' special teams units were given a C-minus by Ledbetter.  

Here are some more stories on the Falcons:


Mock draft season is officially underway, and's Bucky Brooks has released his first version of how he believes the draft could play out. Brooks has a total of six quarterbacks coming off the board in the first round, including USC's Sam Darnold with the first overall pick to the Browns.

At No. 2, the Giants select Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, and the Colts add N.C. State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb at No. 3. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen round out the rest of the top five, going to the Browns and Broncos at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

As for the NFC South, the Buccaneers boost their pass rush by selecting UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport at No. 7. The Panthers are the next team on the clock at No. 24, and they draft another playmaker for Cam Newton by selecting Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk. With the 26th pick, the Falcons bolster their offensive line by selecting Ohio State guard Billy Price. One pick later, the Saints draft Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Here are some more articles from around the league:


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