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Falcons Close Out Draft With Defense


After making two picks in the fourth round Saturday, the Falcons continued to call in names to New York, moving up 10 slots in the fifth round to select TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga, a 6-foot-2, 256-pound end who logged 113 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in three seasons with TCU. Maponga redshirted his freshman year in 2009.  He comes to the Falcons as a rush defensive end and he anticipates that role staying the same with the Falcons.

"What I did best (at TCU) was basically letting me rush the passer," Maponga said on Saturday. "(They gave me) the freedom to decide to stand up or stay down. Most of the time, I was a rush defensive end."

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Maponga will likely be positioned as a "pass rushing specialist" on the right side of the defensive line. Like a number of their picks, Dimitroff didn't anticipate Maponga to last as long as he did in the draft.

"As a right defensive end and a designated pass rusher, that's where we envision Stansly Maponga situating," Dimitroff said. "It'll be a great situation for him to come in there and work behind a guy like Osi Umenyiora and Jonathan Massaquoi. …We like Maponga's ability to get up the field."

After a long wait, the Falcons got back on the clock for a flurry of activity, beginning with their first two picks of the final round, back-to-back picks at 243 and 244. With the first selection they took University of Central Florida's Kemal Ishmael, a 5-foot-11, 206-pound safety and they stayed with defensive back for their next pick as well, grabbing Notre Dame's safety Zeke Motta.

Dimitroff said both young safeties are aggressive, tough football players and they like what they saw in the varying skills of both safeties. The GM said Ishmael caught their eye with his consistency and described the safety as one of the surest tacklers in the class this year. With Motta in the mix, the Falcons get a bruising safety with size to step in and compete behind Atlanta's two Pro Bowlers at the position.

"It's going to be a whale of a competitive situation in the defensive backfield," Dimitroff said.

With their final pick, selection 249, the Falcons selected Duke QB Sean Renfree, 6-foot-3, 219 pounds. Renfree became a starter at Duke as a sophomore in 2010 and was named the team's MVP that season. In 2011, he became one of the team's captains and threw for 2,891 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a senior Renfree set Duke's single-season pass completion record and threw for 3,113 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Dimitroff expects Renfree to compete with last year's third QB, Dominique Davis, for the primary backup position this season and in the coming season. He said based on where they are in Matt Ryan's development, they're ready to bring along another young quarterback to develop into a solid and trustworthy No. 2 behind Ryan.


Stansly Maponga

Kemal Ishmael

Zeke Motta

Sean Renfree

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