Questions about Falcons possibly moving up in draft, Devin White, Dirk Koetter, more

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Welcome to Straight from the Beek! Free agency is in full swing, the NFL Draft is right around the corner and you've got plenty of questions. So, let's get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And away we go.

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David from Warwick, RI
Hey dude, Last time I posted on your column was from the very first time you had one! Good times. I have read nearly every single one. Anywho, hear this out. We draft Devin White from LSU. This gives us such a strong case at playing 4-3 safely and confidently, pairing Debo and White. It would almost be like playing nickel, because Debo being the best coverage LB in the league, it would almost be like having the extra CB/safety while also having the three LBs in De'Vondre Campbell, Jones, and White giving us extreme speed and power in the run game. Devin White is also an elite pass rusher and QB tracker. I think if we draft White, it would be a great choice and it would add attitude and a fierce piece to the center of our defense. We would have the best LB core in the league hands down. Thanks bro. Let me know what you think!

Matt: First, a tip of the hat to you for being such a loyal reader. Thank you. I get notes all the time from readers like you and, well, the support and passion you guys have fires me up – it's awesome. Now, on to Devin White. Love this kid coming out of LSU. In fact, he's probably the best linebacker prospect coming out of this draft class and a likely top-10 pick. In my latest mock draft, I have White going to the Bengals with the 11th overall pick. Look, White is the complete package – he has all the physical attributes teams are looking for in a linebacker. He's an explosive hitter and has the great sideline-to-sideline range. He's a playmaker and would definitely make the Falcons a feared unit with Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell. And here it comes, David. But … the Falcons must address the defensive line, both the tackle and edge positions. Did you see teams running through the Falcons defensive front last season? Right now has three – three – defensive ends listed on its roster. In my opinion, they need an absolute dawg coming off the edge and some depth there. They could also use someone creating havoc in the middle – collapsing pockets and swallowing up ball carriers. If they can do that, I think the Falcons linebackers and secondary will be that much better. Do I still think they could and very well might draft another linebacker later on? Yes, they should. I could also see them taking a cornerback, too. They're thin there right now. Finally, I think White will be off the board by the time the Falcons pick at 14. I could see him going to the Bucs at No. 5, the Bengals at 11 and possibly the Packers at 12. If he's still there at 14, it would be tempting. What the Falcons do in free agency leading up to the draft will be interesting to see as well. Thanks for writing in.

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Darwin from Douglas, GA
First time participant. I have no questions for you today, only high praise for all that you do for us fans. I have followed the Falcons since 1976. Through many lean years and proudly for all of the years since Mr. Blank has taken the reign. We had many silent off seasons due to our inability to compete with the other teams and it is such a blessing and relief to be able to read all of the information that you provide for us fans. There are many fair-weather fans that I get so frustrated with when they complain about what is going on and I would love to just shake some sense into them. People, please just trust the people that we have now and give them your undying respect and trust. We really are blessed to have what we have now. And also appreciate the knowledge and information that is provided for us, this truly is an awesome site to be able to come find out accurate information on the team and the direction that we are headed. Quit over-reacting to the "pre-draft" chatter, the draft will take care of itself in due time. Beek, I personally want to thank you for all that you do. It is awesome!

Matt: I really appreciate the note, Darwin. And I agree with your message: Trust the process. Have the Falcons hit on every single draft pick over the years? Heck no. But it's hard to argue with the overall success general manager Thomas Dimitroff has had during the draft in recent years. A GM is tasked with one major priority and that is to build a team and make it competitive year in and year out under the salary cap. It's no easy task – you need to identify and secure core players with long-term deals, draft players who can contribute right away and fill in the rest with a mix of solid veteran players and young free agents. He's done that. Now, no one can plan for injuries – and no one is using them as an excuse, but they happen. Last year the Falcons suffered so many it was tough to overcome, in my opinion. The Falcons still have a lot of work to do this offseason and in the draft, but I'm expecting 2019 to be a very good year, Darwin. Thanks for writing in.

Darwin from Douglas, GA

First time participant. I have no questions for you today, only high praise for all that you do for us fans. I have followed the Falcons since 1976. Through many lean years and proudly for all of the years since Mr. Blank has taken the reign. We had many silent off seasons due to our inability to compete with the other teams and it is such a blessing and relief to be able to read all of the information that you provide for us fans. There are many fair-weather fans that I get so frustrated with when they complain about what is going on and I would love to just shake some sense into them. People, please just trust the people that we have now and give them your undying respect and trust. We really are blessed to have what we have now. And also appreciate the knowledge and information that is provided for us, this truly is an awesome site to be able to come find out accurate information on the team and the direction that we are headed. Quit over-reacting to the "pre-draft" chatter, the draft will take care of itself in due time. Beek, I personally want to thank you for all that you do. It is awesome!

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Do you have a question about the Falcons that you want answered Straight from the 'Beek? Ask a question here and it could be posted on AtlantaFalcons.com.

Matt: I really appreciate the note, Darwin. And I agree with your message: Trust the process. Have the Falcons hit on every single draft pick over the years? Heck no. But it's hard to argue with the overall success general manager Thomas Dimitroff has had during the draft in recent years. A GM is tasked with one major priority and that is to build a team and make it competitive year in and year out under the salary cap. It's no easy task – you need to identify and secure core players with long-term deals, draft players who can contribute right away and fill in the rest with a mix of solid veteran players and young free agents. He's done that. Now, no one can plan for injuries – and no one is using them as an excuse, but they happen. Last year the Falcons suffered so many it was tough to overcome, in my opinion. The Falcons still have a lot of work to do this offseason and in the draft, but I'm expecting 2019 to be a very good year, Darwin. Thanks for writing in.

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Winston from Richmond, VA
I've been a Falcons fan since I was a little kid. Back when Jamal Anderson was doing the Dirty Bird in the end zone. Nostalgia ... I truly like our new additions at the guard positions, and size upfront to handle pass rushes and open running lanes. My question is, with us holding nine picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, do you see us creating a trade package to move up to get a dominant defensive lineman such as Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams from Bama?

Matt: Hey, Winston. Sitting at 14 with nine draft picks certainly gives the Falcons some flexibility – to move up or down. They could package some picks and theoretically move up if another wanted more picks and was willing to move down. Or they could find a team that desperately wanted to move up midway through the first round and acquire more picks that way. Depending on how the first round plays out early on will affect some of that decision making. Do I think the Falcons would move all the way up into the top-five picks? That would require giving up a lot, and I just don't see that happening, Winston. But that's where Quinnen Williams and Nick Bosa are likely going to be picked – within the first three to four picks. For what it's worth, I think Williams might be the best prospect in this class. Thanks for the question.

William from Jefferson, GA
Are the Atlanta Falcons trading Matt Ryan?

Matt: Are the Falcons going to trade their franchise quarterback and most important player? I'm not clued in on any of the decision making that goes on with the roster, William, but I can pretty much bet my paycheck and car that the Falcons won't be doing that.

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Jerry from Statesboro, GA
Hey Beek! We still don't have a dangerous return man. Is there a true return man in free agency or the draft? I would love to see the Falcons draft Mecole Hardman from Georgia with our third- or fourth-round pick. Here's another scenario, let's move down to the low 20s in the draft and get DE Jay Ferguson out of Louisiana Tech. Former starting RT Ryan Schraeder is still a free agent, is there any chance we bring him back on a one- year deal as insurance? I love UGA players, as many Beekers do as well. Why not bring Elijah Holyfield home, move him to fullback and make him a threat in the passing game?

Matt: Hey, Jerry. I'm still amazed at the year Andre Roberts had in New York after he left the Falcons. I liked Roberts as a person, too, and was happy for him but you're right, the Falcons could certainly use an impact player back there returning kicks and punts. Mecole Hardman is projected to be a Day 3 pick at this point and I could envision him getting a shot as a return man in the NFL. He's on the smaller side – 5-10, 187 pounds – but he can fly with that 4.33 40 time. I throw this name your way, too: Kris Boyd out of Texas. He's a solid cornerback prospect with decent size (5-11, 201 pounds), can run (4.4 in the 40) but he can also return kicks. Just a thought. As far as Jaylon Ferguson being available in the lower half of the first round goes, I think he'll be there. Will the Falcons move down to acquire more picks? I have no idea. But they need an impact player along the defensive line right now, too. I'm pretty sure they find one at 14 and not sure why you'd risk giving him unless you were absolutely convinced that you could snag a difference maker a several picks later. It'll be interesting to see where Elijah Holyfield lands, Jerry. You know, Luke Stocker has lined up some in the backfield and is an decent blocker, too. Plus Ricky Ortiz is still on this roster. I'm not saying Holyfield couldn't transition to fullback, but I don't see that happening with the Falcons. You mentioned him being a threat in the passing game … I believe he caught seven passes in his entire career at Georgia. He'd have to prove he can do that consistently. Don't write him off as a running back just yet, either. He's a very good player who just doesn't have that top-end speed.

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Kevin from Conyers, GA
Hey Beek. Opinions, opinions, opinions – and all of them are passionate! I'm proud to be a part of our fan base. Here's another one. With the free agent signings so far, Thomas and DQ are telling us this is Dirk Koetter's offense and we have complete faith in you, Dirk. As a fan, that's priceless. Trust in your subordinates is huge and that's the message I'm getting. I'm excited, of course I'm excited every year. What say ye, Matt?

Matt: Well, what NFL offensive coordinator wouldn't be excited to call plays with the Falcons arsenal at his disposal? Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, and Austin Hooper. As you probably already know, Kevin, Dirk Koetter was here in Atlanta once before (2012-14) and now returns that much more experienced. Plus, Koetter has a proven track record as a play-caller and knows the NFC South pretty well after serving as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last three seasons (he was the Bucs' offensive coordinator in 2015). With coach Dan Quinn also overseeing the play calling on defense, it'll help having someone as experienced as Koetter overseeing the offense. It was a smart move, in my opinion, because defense is Quinn's calling card and I like the idea of getting that unit in gear. Thanks for writing in.

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Tony from Augusta, GA
What's up Beek! I have a suggestion that I want your opinion on. While I would have hated to see the Saints playing in a Super Bowl on our field, I would hate even more to see something similar (the non-pass interference call) happen to the Falcons en route to a Super Bowl this upcoming season. My suggestion is to allow the coaches to keep their red flags and challenges that come with them the same way they are today but also give them a black (or whatever color) flag in addition to that red flag. The black flag would be used to challenge anything that happens throughout the game that the coach wants to challenge, but they only get to use it once per game, whether it's a success challenge or not. If the challenge is not successful, it will result in a 15-yard penalty. This would ensure that coaches only throw it at the most critical times, i.e., a missed call that prevents you from going to the Super Bowl or a play that would make the difference between winning and losing a game. What are your thoughts? If you think it's a good idea, pass it along.

Matt: Hey, Tony. So you're saying that a coach can use at any time for any play? Hmm, interesting. I'd have to think about it more and think through some scenarios, to be honest. I do like that there is a 15-yard penalty assessed if the challenge is wrong – mainly because I wouldn't want the option to be abused (you know, as a fourth time out at the end of a game). There would have to be more written in to the rule – of how it can and cannot be used, etc. Last thought. If pass interference is still not reviewable by rule though, a black flag wouldn't make a difference, right? Judgment calls – pass interference, holding and roughing the passer – are not reviewable. Now, that could all change at the league meetings currently taking place this week in Phoenix. Stay tuned.

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