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News » NFL DRAFT: Falcons opt for defense

NFL DRAFT: Falcons opt for defense

NFL DRAFT: Falcons opt for defense
Flowery Branch --- The Falcons got downright defensive on the first day of the 2009 NFL draft.

Looking for an anchor, the Falcons selected Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry with the 24th overall pick on Saturday.

In the second round, they selected Missouri safety William Moore with the 55th overall pick.

quot;We highlighted a lot of players that we wanted to come away with in the draft,quot; Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. quot;This fellow [Moore] and Peria Jerry are two guys that we had earmarked.quot;

Both picks will help to plug holes created by the team electing not to re-sign veteran safety Lawyer Milloy and defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Both were 35 years old.

Jerry's quickness to shoot gaps and ability to hold up blocks at the point of attack was attractive to the Falcons .

quot;I can help them out in numerous ways with my quickness and speed,quot; Jerry said. quot;I think I'll be a great fit for the Falcons .quot;

Moore, who once was considered the top safety in the draft and a potential top 10 pick, dropped after having a poor senior season.

quot;It was very tough because I know what I can do,quot; Moore said. quot;I know what kind of player that I am. I know what I've put in [the game] thus far. When I slipped, I just went by what my Mom says: 'Everything happens for a reason.' So it had to be a reason.quot;

Jerry was the second-rated defensive tackle in the draft behind Boston College's B.J. Raji, who was taken by Green Bay with the ninth pick in the draft.

The Falcons also considered taking Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler, USC linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. and Missouri defensive tackle Evander quot;Ziggyquot; Hood with the 24th pick.

quot;We knew that a number of teams were interested in defensive tackles,quot; Dimitroff said. quot;But with some of the movement in the draft with the trades and such, we thought we had a really good chance of landing Peria.quot;

One of the main competitors for the Falcons was NFC South division foe Tampa Bay. They were interested in Jerry also, but when they made a trade with Cleveland to land quarterback Josh Freeman, the Falcons knew they had a shot at Jerry.

At every stop in the NFL, Falcons coach Mike Smith has played with massive defensive tackles. In Baltimore, he coached the tandem of Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams. In Jacksonville, he had Marcus Stroud and John Henderson.

With the selection of Jerry, the Falcons hope they have strengthened the middle of their defense. The Falcons re-signed defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux but let the other starter, Jackson, leave during free agency.

If Jerry can earn a starting spot, the Falcons hope that he'll help improve their leaking run defense.

The Falcons gave up 127.5 yards rushing per game last season, finishing 25th out of 32 teams in the league.

quot;We are going to stop the run,quot; Smith said. quot;That's one of the things that we feel like we have to do. To do that you have to have strength up the middle.quot;

The Falcons hope that Moore can ease the loss of Milloy, who was the team's third-leading tackler last season.

quot;The guys definitely bring speed and urgency to this Football team and to our defense,quot; Dimitroff said. quot;We are fired up about having William jump on board with him.quot;

Moore told his coaches at Missouri that he wanted to play for the Falcons .

quot;He was very impressed with Coach Smith and his approach,quot; Dimitroff said.

Falcons' PICKS

The Falcons selected Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry to fill holes left by Lawyer Milloy and Grady Jackson.

* Round 2: William Moore, safety, Missouri

On ajc.com/sports: Weigh in on the local NFL draft picks and keep up to the minute with our draft tracker.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

Frank Davis Name: Frank Davis
Position: OG
Age: 26
Experience: 2 years
College: South Florida
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