2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons stay focused on defense in NFL draft

By GEORGE HENRY - Associated Press
    2013-04-27 15:11

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons kept their focus on defense Saturday, adding defensive ends Malliciah Goodman of Clemson and Stansly Maponga from TCU on the third day of the NFL draft.

After picking cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in the first two rounds, the Falcons took Goodman in the fourth round and traded up 10 spots in the fifth round to select Maponga.

Atlanta also added Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo with a compensatory pick in the fourth round.

During the offseason, the Falcons released John Abraham, the NFL's active sacks leader, and cornerback Dunta Robinson in moves to relieve salary cap space. Cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Christopher Owens left as free agent.

Atlanta filled Abraham's job at right end by signing longtime New York Giants star Osi Umenyiora as a free agent, and the team re-signed strong safety William Moore, but after finishing 24th in total yards allowed, the Falcons wanted to create depth on defense.

Goodman (6-foot-4, 276 pounds) started the last two years at Clemson. He said that coach Mike Smith told him he will compete for the starting job at left end.

Sixth-year veteran Kroy Biermann took over at left end last November when high-priced Ray Edwards was surprisingly released. Biermann might retain the job, but he is valuable on special teams and has best helped the defense in past years with limited snaps.

Goodman and Maponga will join the depth chart at end alongside Jonathan Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick last year, and Cliff Matthews, a seventh-rounder in 2011, behind Umenyiora and Biermann.

At Clemson, Goodman learned his position under Da'Quan Bowers, a second-rounder in 2011 for Tampa Bay, and Andre Branch, a second-rounder for Jacksonville last year.

Goodman, who had seven sacks last season and whose eight career forced fumbles rank third in Clemson history, set a single-season school mark two years ago by playing 767 snaps in 14 games.

``It was a little rough from a legs point of view, but I managed through that and didn't have any injuries through that,'' Goodman said. ``I kept my body healthy and had a pretty productive year.''

To get Maponga, the Falcons swapped fifth-round spots with Chicago and sent the Bears a seventh-round pick.

Maponga said he's fully recovered from left foot surgery last month. The 6-foot-2, 256-pounder missed two of 11 games last season at TCU, finishing with four sacks and 6.5 tackles for negative yardage. He was named first-team All-Big 12.

``I visit the doctor on Monday, and he can let me know what's going on,'' Maponga said. ``I've been going through rehab, and my foot is in a brace. I'm just taking what I need to do to come back 10 times better. I do believe I will come back stronger than ever and ready.''

Maponga said that NFL scouts projected him as both an end and an outside linebacker, but the Falcons want him to play up front.

``I'm ready for that,'' he said. ``I'm ready to come in and show off my skills.''

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Toilolo (pronounced Toy-lo-lo) was Atlanta's first offensive player of the draft. He will have a chance to be mentored by 13-time Pro Bowl selection Tony Gonzalez, who put off his retirement plans to return for the 2013 season.

Toilolo had 24 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. He had 10 career touchdown catches.

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