cloudy
Thursday July 30th, 2015 5:46PM

Falcons add safety Southward in third round of NFL draft

By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Atlanta Falcons have selected Wisconsin safety Dez Southward in the third round of the NFL draft.

Southward, a full-time starter in 2012-13, was medically excluded from participating in the NFL combine two months ago because of wrist and spine injuries.

The fourth pick of the third round Friday, and 68th overall, Southward joins offensive tackle Jake Matthews, the No. 6 overall selection, and second-rounder Ra'Shede Hageman, a defensive end from Minnesota in Atlanta's draft class.

The Falcons are revamping the free safety position after five-year starter Thomas DeCoud was released in March.

Dwight Lowery, signed last month as a free agent, and Kemal Ishmael, a seventh-round draft pick last year, are the other free safeties listed on Atlanta's roster.

NOTE: BELOW IS THE STORY FROM THE FALCONS' SECOND ROUND DRAFT PICK

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Atlanta Falcons bolstered their pass rush by picking Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.

Hageman, the fifth pick of the second round, joins a defense that ranked last in third-down efficiency, second-worst against the run and third-fewest in sacks.

The Falcons are listing Hageman at defensive end even though he started his last 26 games at nose tackle for the Gophers.

"I won't say I'm ready yet, but I'll take on that challenge," Hageman said on a conference call Friday night. "Obviously with the good coaching staff they have, I feel like I'm in good hands. I'm just looking forward to it."

Coming off a 4-12 season that was their first losing record in six years under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons vowed to get tougher on both lines.

They drafted offensive tackle Jake Matthews No. 6 overall on Thursday and signed defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai in free agency. Starting defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Corey Peters were re-signed.

Atlanta's defense was hampered last year by injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive end Kroy Biermann. Free safety Thomas DeCoud underperformed and was released.

Hageman finished 2013 with a career-high 13 tackles for minus-50 yards. The 6-foot, 310-pounder takes as much pride in his vertical jump - 35 1/2 inches - as he does in his ability to pressure the quarterback.

"My junior year, I definitely got more sacks, and last year I had to find another way of making plays," Hageman said. "It's just the same as getting sacks, so I'm definitely going to use my vertical as an advantage to swat down balls."

Atlanta's defense was hampered last year by injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive end Kroy Biermann. Free safety Thomas DeCoud underperformed and was released.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 6 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 6 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 6 months ago )
Sports
Pits will be tight as Chili Bowl entry count hits 316
TULSA, OK - The 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire is on track to be a record smashing event, with the entry count climbing over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries confirming 303 drivers for the indoor spectacular happening Tuesday, January 13 through Saturday, January 17 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, OK.
9:59AM ( 7 months ago )
Falcons fire Mike Smith after 2nd straight losing season
Mike Smith's status as the winningest coach in Falcons history wasn't enough to save his job. Owner Arthur Blank said he fired Smith on Monday because in his "heart of hearts" he didn't believe Smith could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
7:58PM ( 7 months ago )
New promoters in place for 2015 at Senoia Raceway
SENOIA, GA - Lease papers have been signed and a team of new promoters is in place for the upcoming stock car racing season at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.
6:00AM ( 7 months ago )
Professional Sports
Dodgers bolster pitching in huge deal with Braves, Marlins
ATLANTA (AP) — The first-place Los Angeles Dodgers have bolstered their pitching staff, acquiring Mat Latos from the Miami Marlins and Alex Wood, Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Atlanta Braves in...
5:00PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Bubba Russell grabs Limited Late Model win at Hartwell
Bubba Russell moved to the front of the Limited Late Model field Saturday night and went on to score the victory at Hartwell Speedway in Hartwell, Ga.
4:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Orioles complete sweep of Braves
Chris Tillman took a three-hitter into the ninth inning, Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy homered and the Baltimore Orioles beat the skidding Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.
By The Associated Press
7:05AM ( 10 hours ago )
Win streak snapped in loss to Bulls
The Gwinnett Braves rallied for two runs in the eighth inning but could not come all the way back in a 5-3 loss to the Durham Bulls on Wednesday at Coolray Field.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:26PM ( 18 hours ago )
Quinn taking up-tempo approach to rebuilding Falcons
As Seattle's defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn helped lead Seattle to two straight Super Bowls, including one championship. Quinn opens his first training camp as Falcons coach on Friday trying to overhaul Atlanta's woeful unit.
8:52PM ( 20 hours ago )