PERSONNEL NEWS

Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

A closer look at the Falcons’ picks:

Round 1/26 – Calvin Ridley, WR, 6-0, 189, Alabama

The Falcons needed a replacement for Taylor Gabriel, who left in free agency. Ridley is a bigger version and is just as fast. He finished second in Alabama history in receptions with 224 and receiving touchdowns with 19 while he ranked third in receiving yards with 2,781. He was named first-team All-SEC by the coaches last season.

Round 2/58 – Isaiah Oliver, CB, 6-1, 190, Colorado

He entered the NFL draft after his junior season. He recorded 32 pass breakups and tied for the 10th most in school history. He also had three interceptions. In his career at Colorado, he played in 37 games and made 16 starts. He has played with four defensive backs, who have made NFL rosters: Chidobe Awuzie (Cowboys), Kenneth Crawley (Saints), Tedric Thompson (Seahawks) and Ahkello Witherspoon (49ers).

Round 3/90 – Deadrin Senat, DT, 6-0, 314, South Florida

Senat is shorter in stature, but his weight is well distributed. He is strong at the point of attack and can play two gaps and fight through double teams. He has a high motor. He flashes where he can dominate the action and has the hand strength and agility to be disruptive.

Round 4/126 – Ito Smith, RB, 5-9, 195, Southern Mississippi

Smith joined Southern Mississippi as a three-star recruit. He started 13 games over his first two years, including a 1,000-yard sophomore season, before breaking out in his junior campaign. Smith ran for 2,874 yards with 27 touchdowns across his final two seasons. He added 855 yards and four touchdowns on 83 catches.

Round 6/194 – Russell Gage, WR, 6-0, 186, Louisiana State

Gage recorded a career-best 285 yards and three scores on 21 catches last season. He had just 26 catches in his college career, with three scores. He appeared in 27 games (starting six) in his college career. As a receiver, Gage was the Tigers’ third leading rusher last season with 232 yards on 28 carries. He carved out a role as a reliable special-teamer. The Baton Rouge native was a permanent team captain for the Tigers in 2017.

Round 6/200 — Foyesade Oluokun, LB, 6-2, 230, Yale

Oluokun played hybrid linebacker at Yale. He made 50 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in route to second-team All-Ivy League honors his senior year. He blocked two field-goal attempts against Cornell in 2015, but played in just three games that season due to injury. He posted 75 tackles in 2016. Oluokon’s athleticism could him contribute on special teams.

PLUG AND PLAY

WR Calvin Ridley: He was rated as the top wide receiver in the draft because most teams viewed him as a slot receiver. The Falcons, who like to employ 11 personnel with three wide receivers, viewed him as a starter who can play in the slot and outside in some of their formations. He’s a another chess piece to play off of All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones and has the speed to get open deep.

WILL SURPRISE

LB Foyesade Oluojun: The hybrid linebacker will be expected to add some depth to the linebacker corps. He will have to make an impact on special teams first.

WHAT THE HELL?

RB Ito Smith: The projected seventh-round pick was taken three rounds earlier by the Falcons. They valued his ability to play special teams and perhaps be a returner higher than most teams. Smith said he’s comfortable playing in the slot and returning kicks. Head coach Dan Quinn assures he’ll get a look at returner. He averaged 21.2 yards per kickoff return in 26 collegiate opportunities, though 21 of those came in his freshman and sophomore seasons.