Tails never fails
Atlanta finally gets break on coin flip; more thoughts
Posted: Friday February 22, 2008 5:45PM; Updated: Friday February 22, 2008 5:54PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Finally, something went right for the Falcons. Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff, pitted against the Oakland Raiders for the third pick in the draft, called tails in a Westin Hotel conference room when a league official flipped a coin Friday morning, and it came up tails. That broke the logjam for the third pick in the draft between Atlanta, Oakland and Kansas City. The order at the top is now official:
"Selecting third in the draft sheds a totally different light on our draft possibilities,'' said Dimitroff.
And it put the Falcons in the driver's seat for the best quarterback in the draft, whoever they judge that man to be.
The season ended with a tie between three 4-12 teams for the third pick, but because Kansas City finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West by tiebreaker, the Chiefs were locked in behind the Raiders in the draft order. If Dimitroff had lost the toss to Oakland, Atlanta and Kansas City would have flipped for the fourth spot.
There wasn't exactly dancing on Peachtree Street after the early morning news, but it was welcome to a franchise that has stumbled from one disaster (Mike Vick and dogfighting) to another (the Bobby Petrino debacle) in the last eight months.
"Tails never fails,'' said the man who might be a Falcons employee in two months, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. The 6-4 3/4, 228-pound Ryan is the odds-on choice to top the Falcons' draft board. He threw for 4,507 yards, with 31 touchdowns and 19 interceptions at BC last fall. Too many interceptions, maybe too many chances taken. But he knew what to say Friday afternoon.
"I think I'd be a good fit in Atlanta,'' Ryan said. "It's a great city. [Owner] Arthur Blank has done a fabulous job with that franchise.''
Five Things I Think I Think at the combine
1. I think Matt Ryan's about as cool a customer as you'd want to see at one of these combines -- confident, conversational, comfortable in his own skin.
2. I think the combine has gotten so different, so bizarre, so overcrowded. Eight years ago, I sat with Plaxico Burress, alone, in the restaurant in the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, no one bothering us, for 90 minutes, him telling me his life story. Now, instead of 30 or 40 reporters here (which was the case in 2000) hanging around the lobby, there are in excess of 400. Not just newspapers and magazine writers either. Team websites (video crews from patriots.com and houstontexans.com) and various dotcoms are here. It's combine mania.
3. I think there's more than one team really excited about Joe Flacco, the underrated Delaware quarterback. He could sneak into the final 10 of round one. "Flacco's hot,'' one GM told me late this afternoon. "Hot enough, eventually, to sneak into the first round.''
4. I think it was great to see Jamal Lewis here today, with the Browns announcing his new three-year contract. How amazing. "Remember a year ago, when everybody thought I was nuts for signing with Cleveland?'' he told me. "Now look how close we are.''
5. I think it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the Lions will be able to get in trade for Shaun Rogers, the defensive tackle who plays at a high level when he feels like it. The Lions want him gone; he's not a Rod Marinelli high-motor kind of guy. He'll probably be fire-sold for a fourth-rounder, or something in that neighborhood, around draft day.