FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons' vacancy at an often-overlooked position as well as why the Browns should take two quarterbacks.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *Falcons have a vacancy at fullback
Draft week is finally here! D. Orlando Ledbetter of *The Atlanta Journal-Constitution *is counting down the days until the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with a five-part series on what he views as the Falcons' biggest needs.
The second article in that series covers Atlanta's current opening at fullback, after the departure of Derrick Coleman, who filled the position for the Falcons last season. The Falcons are one of the few teams in the NFL who have reliably used a fullback over recent years, but they seemed to miss the presence of Pro Bowler Patrick DiMarco in 2017.
Only three pure fullbacks were invited to the NFL combine – Dimitri Flowers (Oklahoma), Donnie Ernsberger (Western Michigan) and Nick Bawden (San Diego State) – but Ledbetter believes the Falcons will address the position. In short-yardage situations, the added power out of the backfield could prove crucial.
"Yes, when you count the third-and-1's, the fourth-and-1's some of the time, even in the low red zone in some areas," Quinn said earlier this year at the NFL combine. "We are going to run it. They know we are going to run it and we are going to do it anyway. Those kind of moments are important. Those are 'got to have' plays."
Here are more articles for Falcons fans:
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
*Sports Illustrated: *The Browns should take a QB on Day 1 and Day 2
The Browns need a quarterback. That sentence could have been written nearly any offseason over the past two decades and it would be accurate, which is telling of the team's ability to draft and develop players at the most important position.
This year, the Browns hold the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the draft, one of which will certainly be used to select one of the premier quarterbacks in this year's class. *Sports Illustrated's *Jonathan Jones argues that the Browns shouldn't stop there, however; he thinks the franchise should double up on quarterbacks, selecting one on Day 1 and Day 2.
Currently, the Browns have three picks in the second round of the draft, and that is where Jones believes they should add a second quarterback. He argues that the team would automatically have a cheap backup quarterback option behind current projected starter Tyrod Taylor and whoever the team drafts in the first round, and the other two second-round picks could still be used on other needs.
Another selling point for this strategy is the acquisition of future trade capitol. Backup quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo and A.J. McCarron have become coveted in recent seasons, and even if a backup doesn't earn a role with the Browns, they could still get value for drafting him down the road.
"And consider one more thing that will inflate a second QB's value: This year's class of quarterbacks might be generational, which means prospects from the second tier might have some of that mysticism rub off on them," Jones writes. "Over the next few years, evaluators will continue to bemoan how quarterbacks are coming out of college unpolished, that fewer teams are running pro-style offenses and that it will take longer to develop a young quarterback.
"So in two or so years, you, Cleveland Browns, might have the luxury of shopping a quarterback who's part of a mythical draft class, who has learned the NFL ropes, who's cheap for another couple of seasons, and who offers a fantastic alternative to a future 21-year-old prospect an NFL team has trouble understanding and adapting to."
Here are some more articles from around the league: