Things are starting to pick up at Flowery Branch.
Tight end L.J. Smith and center Brett Romberg visited the Falcons on Thursday. They were the first players to drive through the gates during free agency this offseason
Daniel Loper, a reserve guard/tackle with the Tennessee Titans, is slated to visit on Friday, according to our friend Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean.
Brian Mackler, Smith’s agent, has been a busy man in free agency. He worked out Domonique Foxworth’s great deal with the Baltimore Ravens. He also has Sean Jones, the Cleveland Browns safety from UGA and Westlake High. Surprisingly, Jones has been keeping a low profile in free agency. Reportedly he’s headed to Philadelphia for a visit on Friday.
“It went great,” Mackler said of Smith’s visit with the Falcons.
When asked if they were working out a deal, Mackler said, “Call me tomorrow and I’ll let you know what’s going on.”
That wasn’t a no!
So it looks like the Falcons may have zeroed in on Smith as their pass-catching tight end. The Falcons feel it’s important to the development of quarterback Matt Ryan to add that weapon to the offense.
Smith must convince the Falcons that he’s at least a decent blocker. He was a second rounder coming out of Rutgers in 2003.
His career got off to a fine start as he caught 27 passes and started five games as a rookie. In his second season, he started eight games, caught 34 passes and was a weapon in the redzone with five touchdowns.
He was a full-time starter in 2005 and 2006, starting 31 of 32 games. He caught 61 and 50 passes and appeared headed for the Pro Bowl. But he’s been plagued by injuries the last two seasons.
Over his career Smith has averaged 10.9 yards on 231 catches. He caught four passes and scored a touchdown in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl loss to New England. The Eagles beat the Falcons in the NFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl.
Like Smith, Loper is coming to Atlanta after a visit with the Detroit Lions.
Loper is massive at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds. He was a fifth round pick out of Texas Tech in 2005. He has played in 40 regular-season games with no starts. Coming out of Texas Tech, he is a good pass protector. The key will be if he’s a mean and nasty attacker in the run game.
Should the Falcons pull the trigger and sign Smith? If they get Smith, should they still pick up a tight end in the draft? What about Loper? (You can’t teach anybody to be 6-6 and 320! He certainly passes the eye-ball test.)