AFC & NFC news and notes

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 08, 2008



A round-up of AFC and NFC "news and notes" provided by the NFL.
 
AFC: FIRST-ROUND SELECTIONS PAIR UP
The draft is in the books, organized team activities are in full swing, and training camps loom not two months away.
 
Meanwhile, there are five NFL teams who hope they already have a leg up on the competition.
 
In the NFL Draft in April, five teams had two first-round selections.  That was the most such teams since the common draft began in 1967. 
 
And one former NFL general manager thinks those two first-rounders can mean only good things.
 
"There is a great benefit to having two No. 1 picks," says CHARLEY CASSERLY, who spent more than 20 years as an NFL personnel executive and general manager with the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans and is now a CBS and NFL Network analyst.  "You expect them to be starters for you, and depending upon their position and where they are taken in the first round, they should have an immediate impact in their first year and possibly even start for you in the first year.  In the long term, because they are first-rounders, percentage-wise they have the best chance to start for you over players taken in later rounds."
 
The Kansas City Chiefs -- with defensive tackle GLENN DORSEY (No. 5, LSU) and guard-tackle BRANDEN ALBERT (No. 15, Virginia) -- are one of those five clubs that are hoping they have a built-in advantage thanks to their draft.
 
"It's a great energy right now," says Chiefs head coach HERM EDWARDS.  "We've got to use this to our advantage.  It's a good direction we're headed in.  I think both of our picks can come in and compete and help us right away."
 
Dallas Cowboys owner JERRY JONES, who has had multiple first-round picks four times during his time in Texas, knows the potential benefits running back FELIX JONES (No. 22, Arkansas) and cornerback MIKE JENKINS (No. 25, South Florida) can provide to the defending NFC East champions.  "This gives us a good opportunity," says Jones, whose team won Super Bowl XXVII after having two first-round picks.
 
It's only June, but it's never the wrong time to believe you may have an advantage.
 
5 teams had two first-round picks in 2008
TEAM
PLAYERS
Atlanta Falcons
QB Matt Ryan and T Sam Baker
Carolina Panthers
RB Jonathan Stewart and T Jeff Otah
Dallas Cowboys
RB Felix Jones and CB Mike Jenkins
Kansas City Chiefs
DT Glenn Dorsey and T Branden Albert
New York Jets
LB Vernon Gholston and TE Dustin Keller
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
These two draft picks may bode well for the Falctons, Panthers, Cowboys, Chiefs and Jets. Since 1967, several teams have witnessed great success the season after selecting multiple first-round draft picks.
 
Best teams following a draft with two or more first-round draft picks (since 1967)
YEAR
TEAM
RECORD
PLAYERS
2001
St. Louis Rams
14-2
DT Damione Lewis, S Adam Archuleta and DT Ryan Pickett
2004*
New England Patriots
14-2
DT Vince Wilfork and TE Benjamin Watson
1987
San Francisco 49ers
13-2
T Harris Barton and RB Terrence Flagler
1975
Los Angeles Rams
12-2
DT Mike Fanning, G Dennis Harrah and T Doug France
1992*
Dallas Cowboys
13-3
CB Kevin Smith and LB Robert Jones
1994*
San Francisco 49ers
13-3
DT Bryant Young and FB William Floyd
 *Super Bowl champions
 
 
 
# # #
 
 
NFC: Falcons look forward to Matt Ryan Era
"We're not starting a new chapter here," said Atlanta Falcons owner ARTHUR BLANK.  "We're starting a new book."
 
That was in the days leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft, which, the team hopes, produced one successful page-turner.
 
The new Falcons book opened with a first-year general manager in THOMAS DIMITROFF, a rookie head coach in MIKE SMITH...and the No. 3 overall pick in the draft – Boston College quarterback MATT RYAN.
 
"We had options picking at No. 3," says Dimitroff.  "But looking at the skill-set that Matt Ryan possessed, along with his intelligence and leadership ability, we were excited about going in that direction.
 
"This guy is a prototypical quarterback," continues Dimitroff.  "He can stand tall in the pocket.  He's very intelligent.  A big-time leader.  He has accuracy at all levels.  He's a game-winner.  In the end, he'll take a shot in the face and get up.  He's a persevering, hard-nosed quarterback."
 
Ryan, who was nicknamed "Matty Ice" throughout high school and college because he played as if he had ice water in his veins, impressed the Falcons during his pre-draft workout and interview. 
 
"In our meeting, Matt had an opportunity to sit down with offensive coordinator MIKE MULARKEY and quarterbacks coach BILL MUSGRAVE," recalls Smith.  "They let him get up on the board and see what he could do.  It's real easy to evaluate a guy on the field and see how he throws the ball.  So when they sat him down in a meeting situation, they really tried to stump him.  They really gave him some difficult stuff in terms of trying to find out what he knows and what he doesn't know.  He was outstanding on the board.  He's very cerebral."
 
The 2007 ACC Player of the Year, Ryan set numerous Boston College season passing records, including yards (4,507) and touchdowns (31).  He led the Eagles to a 25-7 record (.781) as a starter in his career.  Included were three bowl victories.  He hopes to bring that success to Atlanta.
 
"I was really excited when I got the call from the Falcons," says Ryan.  "I wanted to be in Atlanta."
 
He knows a lot will be expected from him.  He's looking forward to the challenge. 
 
"There are certainly a lot of adjustments you need to make when making the transition from college to the NFL," says Ryan.  "But for me, I think decision-making is the most important part of being a quarterback.  You've got to make your decisions and know where to go with the football.  So I'm going to work as hard as I can and learn the playbook, and learn the offense and work on making good decisions."
 
In his first Falcons minicamp, the quarterback impressed many, including the man who drafted him. 
 
"In his first practice, there was an element of focus and presence," says Dimitroff.  "You look at him and you see his savvy and his ability.  In that session, he was tapping himself on the helmet when he made a mistake, saying it was his fault."
 
The head coach was also pleased with Ryan's first outing as a Falcon and was enthusiastic about his dedication for the game and his ability to stay calm under pressure. 
 
"Matt is a very passionate football player," says Smith.  "You can see his passion and how he brought his team back to victory time and time again in college.  That's the kind of player we want on our football team."
 
And the type of player the Falcons want to star in their new book.

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