2014 NFL Draft: ESPN’s McShay on Falcons’ moves

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FLOWERY BRANCH – ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay shared his thoughts on the Falcons’ draft class today.

He liked the draft overall, especially the Matthews pick. He believes that the Falcons got first-round value when they picked defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman in the second-round. The Dezmen Southward pick in the third-round was a head-scratcher for him and he liked the pick of running back Devonta Freeman in the fourth round.

Here’s what he had to say about the Falcons’ top four picks:

ON MATTHEWS: “I really liked the Falcons draft. Jake Matthews makes all the sense in the world. . . .He brings that versatility. …He was one of the five best players in the draft and they got him at six. At the end of the day, they didn’t have to trade around and give up other picks in order to go get a player that they desperately needed in order to protect Matt Ryan. That was a bigger need than getting a pass rusher.”

ON HAGEMAN: “With Hageman at 37, they get a player that a lot of teams, from a talent standpoint, he’s a first round talent. Now, there is some baggage there. He just had a brutal upbringing. What he went through early in his life, you don’t wish on anyone. You can understand that there have been some issues in his life with anger management and so on, but you understand it and that’s the best way to put it. But he’s turned his life around. He’s doing the right things. He’s working hard. At Minnesota they did a good job of … basically, what they taught him, he did. He wasn’t on the field a ton compared to some of these other top prospects. I think he’s coachable. I think he has areas of his game that he can improve. …He has to play with better leverage. He’s got to be more consistent with his hands. He’s got long arms. He moves well. He’s a massive dude and … he’s got just a ton of potential. He’s one of the real physical freaks in this draft. I think they got a good value at 37 and certainly someone that they can at least rotate in this coming season and get some pass rush out of.”

ON SOUTHWARD: “Dezmen Southward, we had him in the fourth round. They took him in the third. Other teams had him in the third as well. He’s got versatility because he’s played cornerback and played safety. He’s got speed and explosiveness. He had really good workout numbers. I don’t think he was a complete reach, but it just varies from team to team. I think he is a pretty good player and has some experience. He can play in multiple spots and I think he’s going to be a good contributor, probably early on in their nickel or dime and he can wind up helping on special teams as well.”

ON FREEMAN: “I love Davonta Freeman. It takes a lot of tape study to figure out how good he can be. I’ve heard Ray Rice junior, but I don’t quite see that. But he runs hard. Everything he does, he does it at 100 miles per hour. He has good vision. He senses cut back lanes and for a small guy, he’s going to break some tackles. He runs with good pad level and he catches the ball effectively out of the backfield.”

CONCLUSION: “I thought overall they did a good job with those first four picks and throughout the draft.”


Round 1 / 6 — Jake Matthews, RT, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

Round 2/37 – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, Minnesota

Round 3/68 – Dezmen Southward, FS, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

Round 4/103 – Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

Round 4/139 – Prince Shembo, LB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

Round 5/147 – Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

Round 5/168 – Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

Round 7/253 – Yawin Smallwood, LB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

Round 7/255 – Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota

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