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Holloway: Falcons looking for less glitz, more grit in this year's draft
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Falcons make deal for Gonzalez

Say this much for complete franchise upheaval: it makes the offseason interesting.

Last year, the Falcons had the third pick and new cast of characters in the front office. The pre-draft hype was hollywood-blockbuster flashy. Villains! Underdogs! Action! The most important draft in team history!

Save for the scene-stealing entrance of Tony Gonzalez, it hasn’t been a big-budget production in Year 2 of the Dimitroff/Smith collaboration; more like a muted character study. The same drama is unfolding, but the pace is slower — meaning more boring unless you’re into Kristin Scott Thomas or interior lineman.

Nonetheless, the Falcons have loads of needs on defense, meaning this weekend’s sequel needs to be a hit. On with the show.

With the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft...

1. Lions

Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia

The deal’s (all but) done. If have a rooting interest in this young man or the city he’s moving to, buy a domestic car and cross your fingers.

2. Rams

Jason Smith, OT Baylor

They’ll take Smith and hope he becomes the next Orlando Pace.

3. Chiefs

Aaron Curry, OLB Wake Forest

The Chiefs can’t afford to goof this one, and Curry’s widely considered the draft’s surest bet.

4. Seahawks

Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia

ESPN’s Todd McShay swears they’re taking Sanchez, and he may be right. Going QB wouldn’t be a bad pick here if you love Sanchez and think you won’t get a shot at one like him in upcoming years. Hasselbeck’s solid, but fragile. If he can stay healthy, it would give an inexperienced QB like Sanchez a chance to learn the NFL ropes. Still, tackle is a more immediate need and a safer pick.

5. Browns

Brian Orakpo, DE Texas

This could be the fulcrum that tips the direction of the next 10 picks. The Browns have lots of needs, including wide receiver, where Braylon Edwards is looking for a trade. If he goes, the pick could be Michael Crabtree, but for now, new coach Mangini goes for the pass rusher.

6. Bengals

Andre Smith, OT Alabama

Character issues don’t scare these guys. If their number of TDs matched their appearances in the police blotter, they wouldn’t be picking this high. Smith should help increase the totals in both categories.

7. Raiders

Jeremy Maclin, WR Missouri

Al Davis loves a 40 time, and Maclin’s a burner.

8. Jaguars

Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech

What’s up with substance abuse among the Jags WRs? Matt Jones is out after violating probation and retired Jag Jimmy Smith got picked up this week for possession of crack cocaine. Taking braggart Crabtree ain’t exactly staying classy, but somebody other than Maurice Jones-Drew needs to be able to score for this team.

9. Packers

B.J. Raji, DT Boston College

Green Bay is switching to a 3-4 defense, a scheme that starts with the nose guard. Raji would be at worst their best back-up, and at best an eventual All-Pro upgrade.

10. 49ers

Mark Sanchez, QB USC

Shaun Hill’s a stop gap. Sanchez heads North on Highway 1.

11. Buffalo

Michael Oher, OT Ole Miss

The Bills traded malcontent LT Jason Peters to the Eagles this week. Oher fills in nicely.

12. Denver

Tyson Jackson, DE LSU

If the Broncos don’t bundle picks to move up for Raji, Jackson could be the pick due the scarcity of top-shelf 3-4 defensive ends.

13. Redskins

Everette Brown, DE Florida State

Owner Daniel Snyder likes shiny, pretty things, but Brown’s as good as it gets at this point (unless Snyder trades up for something shinier. Read: Sanchez).

14. Saints

Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB Ohio State

Tailor-made pick here. The Saints need a between-the-tackles back to replace Deuce McAllister. Wells fits.

15. Texans

Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State

The best corner in the draft falls to the first team that truly needs one.

16. Chargers

Rey Maualuga, ILB USC

In need of a home run after a couple of first-round whiffs, the Chargers will swing big (and may miss again).

17. Jets

Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State

They need help at QB. Freeman may not be the answer, but he’s the best this draft has left to offer.

18. Broncos

Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State

DE/LB hybrid should provide the pass rush they need.

19. Bucaneers

Clay Matthews, OLB USC

Somebody’s gotta take the place of Cato June and Derrick Brooks. Matthews is the most well-rounded LB left.

20. Lions

Peria Jerry, DT Ole Miss

Jerry’s the best defensive tackle in the draft and arguably the best player left on the board.

21. Eagles

Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State

Knowshon’s a popular pick here, but with LJ Smith gone, tight end is a bigger need.

22. Vikings

Percy Harvin, WR Florida

Unless you count Justin Morneau, AP’s the only offensive weapon in Minnesota. Harvin’s a headcase, but he represents options.

23. Patriots

Brian Cushing, LB USC

Has the versatility Belichick craves in his linebackers

24. Falcons

Louis Delmas, S Western Michigan

The Falcons have needs at all three levels of defense, but they’ve got placeholders everywhere but defensive tackle and safety. Look for those to be the first two positions picked. Ziggy Hood should be available here, but his skill set is too close to Jonathan Babineaux’s. What the Falcons need is a something more like Grady Jackson, and they might be able to get mammoth Boston College DT Ron Brace in the second or third round. Delmas fits because he’s the best player at a high-need position, with the ability to play both safety positions — a trait the Falcons value.

25. Dolphins

Vontae Davis, CB Illinois

Has character issues, but the Dolphins have a hole to fill and Davis is too good to pass up this late.

26. Ravens

Darius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland

A legit deep threat for Flacco.

27. Colts

Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT Missouri

Hardens the Colts’ doughy middle.

28. Bills

Larry English, DE Northern Illinois

Highly productive off the edge.

29. Giants

Kenny Britt, WR Rutgers

A trade for Braylon Edwards seems iminent, but if doesn’t happen, Britt’s big and fast and fills the void left by Plaxico Burress.

30. Titans

Robert Ayres, DE Tennessee

Titans could go for a cornerback here, but Javon Kearse is on the decline, and the defensive line is vulnerable after the departure of Albert Haynesworth.

31. Cardinals

Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia

He’s a steal at this spot, and would work nicely in tandem with Tim Hightower.

32. Steelers

Darius Butler, CB, UConn

WR and CB are the biggest needs, and fast-rising Butler is the best left at either position.

Brent Holloway is The Times sports editor. His columns appear each Friday.

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