Originally created 04/18/99

Falcons wait and good thing comes

It took a rather tedious five hours before the Atlanta Falcons drafted Virginia defensive lineman Patrick Kerney on Saturday, proving that good things do come to those who wait.

Rather than maneuver their way up the draft board to snag one of the five quarterbacks or stud deep-threat receivers, the Falcons waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and watched one of the draft's top three linemen fall right to them.

Kerney brings incredible value at the 30th pick, and provides depth to a defensive end position with only two players to have seen an NFL game -- Chuck Smith and Lester Archambeau. Boy, that sentence sounds like I just emerged from the Mel Kiper school of draft analysis, doesn't it?

Georgia Bulldogs fans should remember Kerney. He's the guy who humiliated tackle Matt Stinchcomb for three quarters in last December's Peach Bowl, sacking Quincy Carter twice before the rush end sprained his hip.

Stinchcomb went 11 selections before Kerney on Saturday. Apparently, the Oakland Raiders scout who supported Stinchcomb hid that Peach Bowl tape from upper management.

Without much flash, the Falcons have upgraded their roster. When you've got the next-to-last pick in the first round, the lowest selection in Falcons history, adding a possible starter to a Super Bowl team is more than one can imagine.

History shows the Falcons riddled with first-round bombs -- Aundray Bruce, Bruce Pickens, Lincoln Kennedy, Shawn Collins and Steve Broussard immediately come to mind. So to snare the ACC's sack leader when other five other teams had tabbed defensive linemen is quite the coup.

And you may be surprised to know that the Falcons have more seventh-round picks dotting their roster than first rounders. Their two impact players from last year's draft -- return man Tim Dwight and tackle Ephraim Salaam -- both came in second-day selections. That makes their six choices in today's NFL draft conclusion all the more important.

There are still needs here, considering that 19 of the 22 Super Bowl starters return.

A backup quarterback not ready for AARP would be nice.

A speedy receiver able to run consistent 30- to 45-yard patterns would be splendid.

Finding a middle linebacker to caddie for long-in-the-tooth Jesse Tuggle would be ideal.

Signing cornerback Ashley Ambrose would solidify the secondary and eliminate Ronnie Bradford from further toasting.

Keeping Eugene Robinson under home arrest would be lovely.

And securing further assistance for Jamal Anderson, either with a blocking fullback or with more depth along the offensive line, would be quite grand.

Other draft day impressions:

Donovan McNabb, the newest Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, might want to stage a charity get-to-know-me ball and invite every malcontent in the City of Brotherly Love. Before he was even given an Eagles hat Saturday, the blowfish in the gallery booed him unmercifully. Welcome to the NFL, Donovan.

Five quarterbacks in the first 12 picks, and the only one I'd trade places with is Daunte Culpepper. He is now Minnesota Vikings property and able to carry Randall Cunningham's luggage for two seasons. The others -- Tim Couch in Cleveland, McNabb in Philly, Akili Smith in Cincinnati and Cade McNown in Chicago -- all get to reap in a season of torture with four of the worst teams in football.

Who's better, Edgerrin James or Ricky Williams? Not sure on that, but I do know Mike Ditka needs a new tailor after that Gary McCord-esque floral shirt he donned Saturday.

Early projection for 1999 Rookie of the Year: Pittsburgh receiver Troy Edwards.

Rick Dorsey is a sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.


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