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D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons’ scouts must find some gems at Senior Bowl

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090508 Flowery Branch - EVALUATION BEGINS- Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff begin evaluating players as the Falcons kickoff their first mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Friday, May 8, 2009. They'll be looking for gems at the Senior Bowl this week.  CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

090508 Flowery Branch – EVALUATION BEGINS- Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff begin evaluating players as the Falcons kickoff their first mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Friday, May 8, 2009. They’ll be looking for gems at the Senior Bowl this week. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said that the talent evaluators would receive the same scrutiny that the coaching staff received after the missed assessments of the offensive and defensive lines.

“We are applying the same scrutiny of the evaluators and (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) is doing that within his department as well,” Blank said.

The evaluation of the coaching staff led to the release of offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. Mike Tice has been hired to coach the offensive line and Bryan Cox to coach the defensive line.

So far, nothing has happened in the scouting department, which will shift into full-swing scouting mode at the Senior Bowl today.

“We’ve been doing that (scrutinizing over) the last three months,” Dimitroff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We continue to do that along the lines of looking at are our coaching staff with coach (Mike) Smith. We’ve highly scrutinized where we are with our approach to certain things from a personnel standpoint as well as our scouts and our directors.

“Again, I continue to stress, me from the top (on down), looking at what we’ve done and what I’ve done, how we’re going to address and change is going to be a part of re-defining where we are as an organization.”

The Falcons have heavily used the Senior Bowl to scout players under Dimitroff.

They’ve selected 14 players they’ve scouted in the Senior Bowl since 2008.

Last season, they selected cornerback Desmond Trufant (first round), cornerback Robert Alford (second round) and defensive end Malliciah Goodman (fourth round).

In 2012, they selected fullback Bradie Ewing (fifth round).

In 2010, Sean Weatherspoon (first round) and guard/tackle Mike Johnson (third round) were picked.

In 2009, defensive tackle Peria Jerry (first round), strong safety William Moore (second round), defensive end Lawrence Sidbury (fourth round) and defensive tackle Vance Walker (seventh round)

In 2008, left tackle Sam Baker (first round), wide receiver Harry Douglas (third round), defensive back Chevis Jackson (third round) and safety Thomas DeCoud (third round).

Of the 14 picks, 11 are still with the team. Sidbury is with the Colts. Walker is an Oakland Raider and Jackson is out of football.

Last season, Alford , who played at FCS school Southeastern Louisiana, showed that he could play with players from major conferences at the Senior Bowl.

While a lot of the top projected first-round picks don’t play at the Senior Bowl, teams can also find depth or strike it big with a late-round pick. The Falcons have all seven of their picks and need to address depth at several positions. They are in line to receive some late compensatory picks.

In 2011, Florida Atlantic running back Alfred Morris had an impressive Senior Bowl week while being coached by the Washington staff. They picked Morris in the sixth round. He’s rushed for 1,613 and 1,275 rushing yards in two seasons.

Last season, Detroit and Oakland coached in the Senior Bowl. A total of 94 players from the 2013 game were drafted, including 16 first round picks.

The Lions ended up selecting BYU’s Ziggy Ansah with the fifth overall pick and guard Larry Warford in the third round. Both were named to the Professional Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team.

The Raiders drafted three players the coached last year in quarterback Tyler Wilson. (fourth round) and tight ends Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa (both in the sixth round).

While Smith and the coaching staff will lead the North squad, the scouting department must turn in spectacular week at the Senior Bowl in order unearth some talent.

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