Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! The free agent frenzy has slowed to a crawl and the NFL Draft is a little more than three weeks away. If you've got Falcons-related questions, send ’em all here and you'll get answers. Just remember, all opinions here are mine unless noted otherwise.
So, as coach Dan Quinn likes to say, let's rock and roll.
Gary from Salem, VA
Hey Matt, glad to see that you are back in the saddle. Here's my question. Coach Quinn has said he is moving Vic Beasley back to defensive end full time in 2018. But in 2017 he split his time as a nickel back. Obviously, they needed depth at nickel back and how do they plan on filling that role in 2018?
Matt: Hey, Gary. You're partially right there – Beasley will indeed be moving into a full-time role at defensive end in 2018, but he split time playing linebacker and defensive end last season. Beasley did move around a bit last year, including dropping back into coverage. But Quinn and the Falcons brass obviously think Beasley can make a greater impact rushing the passer full time – and the hope is that his production will be closer to what it was in 2016, when Beasley registered a league-best 15.5 sacks. Thanks for reading and sending in your question, Gary.
Clint from Douglasville, GA
Ay Beek! Love the article and look forward to reading every chance I get. One quick question. I keep hearing from the "professional analysts" that Matt Ryan and his agent are waiting for Aaron Rogers to get his deal done and I've read some of the Packers beat writers saying Rogers is waiting to see what Matt Ryan gets. So, my question is, who do you think is gonna budge first?
Matt: Well, Clint, I'm no Nostradamus when it comes to football or the Falcons. And it's not like I have agents Tom Condon or David Dunn on speed dial – and even if I did, neither would tell me that or confirm what you're hearing. But based on everything I've heard and read – and I'm specifically talking about comments from Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, I would expect Matt Ryan to get his new contract first. During an interview Tuesday morning on Sports Radio 680, Dimitroff said getting Ryan his new deal is a priority and that he thinks the two sides "are close." So there's that. Take it for what it is, Clint.
Jordan from Melbourne, Australia
G'day Beek, what up? Firstly, I have to say I feel extremely confident in our team heading into the 2018 season. I truly believe we are poised to have a crack at the Super Bowl on our home turf and I feel with our defense improving so much and becoming a top-10 unit, our time is now to capitalize on winning a Super Bowl. Can you imagine that? All the screaming ATL fans. Wow. Anyway, to my question. I believe we have some holes in our team that need to be filled: DT and slot WR to complement Jet Jones. From what I can see, Da'Ron Payne seems to be the best DT available. Do you agree? Is it possible that we can land a DT and WR that will be ready to make an impact to our team straight away this season to reach our ultimate goal? Could we see a scenario where we improve our draft position by trading some fringe players? Look forward to your thoughts.
Matt: Hey, Jordan. Yes, I think both defensive tackle and receiver will be addressed during the draft, most likely in that order, too. I like Payne a lot, but I think two or three defensive tackles could be taken before the Falcons pick at No. 26, too. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out and who's left on the board. I wouldn't be surprised if the Falcons jumped a few spots up if there's a chance they could snag a player they really covet – Dimitroff has a history of making those kinds of moves in the draft.
Joey from Jonesboro, GA
Hey Beek, I was just wondering if you had any insight into whether or not the Falcons were considering either re-signing Kemal Ishmael or LaRoy Reynolds? They are currently very thin at linebacker and I realize they will probably draft a couple for depth, but even still I think they should try and re-sign one of the aforementioned linebackers. Love what you are doing with the article, keep up the yeoman's work and looking forward to your answer.
Matt: Hey, Joey. I think right now things just have to play out for those two aforementioned players as well as the Falcons – and by that, I mean the rest of free agency, the draft, etc. The Falcons, along with the 31 other teams, will continue to build their roster, filling holes and adding depth. Maybe those two will strikes deals with other clubs or maybe one or both could end up re-signing with Atlanta. It could happen any time, really – and it's happened in the past. Ishmael, for example, signed a one-year deal with the Falcons last March.
Zh'vae from Ashburn, GA
BEEEEEKK!!! I haven't talked to you in a while. I've still been reading though, of course. I just wanted to ask if anyone feels a little nervous about next season? But let me explain before you answer. The Falcons have a true chance to make ultimate history this year. As in reach a Super Bowl in our own hometown and win. Everyone's already ranking us to be threats for that title. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am not trying to be a Negative Nancy over here or anything of the sort. As a Falcons fan, everything is telling me to literally shut up and root for my team and cheer them on as they reach that bowl and win. In our hometown. But, then again, it's just a tiny little part of me that wants to say get real. Call it doubt, fear, or being a realist. I mean, we saw what happened to the Vikings. They looked indestructible all year and then just fell flat on their butts in the face of making history. And anything can happen. We've seen a team be destined for a Super Bowl and then just fail. Plenty of times. Again, not trying to be negative here, I'm just nervous. Doesn't mean I not going to stop rooting for my Falcons or supporting them in anyway. I love those dirty birds to death. Just, as a Falcons fan, I know our history pretty well, and it involves a lot of chances blown. And this is a one-in-a-million chance to do something and in our position, it looks really good. Is it safe to say that I'm just really excited to make history and yet, I want to throw up and cry at the same time? Thanks, Beek. Oh, wait, one more question. I'm thinking of calling you Matty Ice too, but since you say you're not the real Matty Ice, I'll just add a Sr. at the end of it. Now it's original. LOL!!
Matt: What's up, Zh'vae? Yes, it's been a while. Glad to have you back here. Look, don't be nervous and, by all means, kick those feelings of doubt and fear to the curb. First, it's not worth fretting over something that's totally out of your control. Life's too short! But seriously, from a football perspective, there's a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Falcons in 2018. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, think about who they have coming back and some of the stars who are in their prime (or just entering it). Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Alex Mack, Jake Matthews, Mohamed Sanu to name several on offense. And then there's that defense that finished the year a top-10 unit – Deion Jones, De'Vondre Campbell, Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal, Desmond Trufant, Takkarist McKinley and I could go on. My point is that there's a ton of talent on this team. They're stacked. And based on how they've drafted the last few years, I'd expect a few more impact players to be added to the mix before training camp begins, too. Now look around at the rest of the NFC and the league, Zh'vae. The Falcons stack up just fine with any one of those teams. And think about how their season concluded – by dominating a talented and up-and-coming Rams team in the wild-card round before coming up one play short in Philadelphia against the eventual Super Bowl champions. Get excited. It's going to be a fun year, Zh'vae.
Tommy from Tampa, FL
Why don't the Falcons choose a QB with the first-round pick and stop getting pimped by a QB that has never lived up to the hype. To be honest he's only had one elite year. We have one of the best in the league at almost every skilled position. These other elite QBs don't. Matt Ryan isn't carrying our team on his shoulders, so why keep paying him like it?
Matt: You're kidding, right? Wow. Matt Ryan is the best quarterback in franchise history and it's not even close, Tommy. He ranks among the best all-time in passing yards, completions and touchdowns, too. And he’s played better during the second half of his career. And you saw the deal that Kirk Cousins landed, right? Cousins, by the way, has never won a playoff game and is 26-30-1 as a starter. But whenever someone says to me, "Hey, we should get rid of this player or that player," my counter is always the same: Who out there walking the street is better? That's usually when the conversation ends. So, my question is, Tommy, who would the Falcons draft at No. 26 that's better than the best quarterback in franchise history?
Alan from Athens, GA
Beek, I was wondering if the Falcons see potential in Alex Gray? He was an international rugby player and is probably an elite athlete.
Matt: They certainly do. After being granted a spot on the Falcons' practice squad in 2017, the team signed him to a reserve future contract during the offseason. We caught up with Gray as he was cleaning out his locker following the season and asked him about his first season and what the future holds for him. Check it out here.
Jack from Chattanooga, TN
Hey, Matt. Obviously this is the time of year when we love to speculate about free agent signings trades, and of course the draft and kick around such names as Odell Beckham, Jimmy Graham or numerous members of the Seattle defense. But let's take a look at what Quinn and Dimitroff have done the last couple of years with the draft. Tevin Coleman third round, Devonta Freeman fourth round, Grady Jarrett, Ricardo Allen sixth round, to name a few. So, let's not underestimate our guys' abilities to make the cream rise on those later round picks. That being said we've dealt with an interior line problem through free agency plus a quality special teams guy which we needed badly so I wouldn't mind giving up our late first-round pick and a third-round pick to get that all-important defensive lineman, Vita Vea or Bradley Chubb to name a couple, but I'm going to sit back and let our guys do their jobs. Windows close fast in the NFL and Thomas and Dan know they need to hit a home run this year. So, I'll just say batter up and thanks for a great column.
Matt: Hey, Jack. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Falcons move up some to nab someone they covet, but to get Chubb they'd have to get into the top five. That's a huge jump. The last time they did anything even close to that was when they jumped 21 spots in 2011 to select Julio Jones with the No. 6 pick. Now to make that happen Atlanta traded its first-, second-, and fourth-round picks in that draft plus a first- and fourth-rounder in 2012. But I think you're right to have faith in Dimitroff and Quinn, especially when you look at what they've done through the draft in recent years.
Ydubb from Norcross, GA
What position and player do the Falcons need that will get them over the Super Bowl hump? It's something this team is missing. We need another playmaker on defense and offense. So, Beek the Geek, tell me who can get us there.
Matt: Right now the Falcons have a need at defensive tackle and receiver, Ydubb. If they can hit home runs at those two positions in the draft, it would make this already-stacked team even more formidable. And I'll leave it at that.