Falcons draft center Peter Konz, OT Lamar Holmes

Falcons selected Peter Konz in the second round of the NFL draft on Thursday. (Associated Press)

Falcons selected Peter Konz in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Most of the folks in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin bleed green and gold and are devout Packers fans.

Former Wisconsin center Peter Konz, who was selected in the second round (55th overall) by the Falcons on Friday, said he was raised doing a different dance — The Dirty Bird.

“A [few] people know this, but I was never a Packer fan,” Konz said. “I always did what people told me not to do. So when the Falcons were in the Super Bowl, I was doing the Dirty Bird with the rest of them.”

Former Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler turned in the team’s card and announced the pick in New York.

Just before they were to select at No. 84 (third round) they traded the pick to Baltimore. They received the Ravens’ pick at No. 91 (third round), which they used to take Lamar Holmes, an offensive tackle from Southern Mississippi.

The trade also brought the Falcons a fifth-round pick (No. 164, 29th of the round).

The Falcons’ plan was to improve the offensive line early in this draft.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is Konz can play both guard and center,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “We have him listed as a guard-center.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 26 times last season and was hit 84 times, which was the seventh most hits in the NFL. If the Falcons plan to climb to the top of the NFC and are Super Bowl contenders, they must do a better job of protecting the man Dimitroff has taken to calling “Deuce.”

“We need to make sure we have the right people protecting ‘Deuce’ as well as helping in short-yardage runs,” said Dimitroff, who selected a player from the Big Ten conference for the first time in five drafts with the Falcons.

Konz’s versatility was important to the Falcons.

“At Wisconsin they made sure I knew tackle, guard and center,” Konz said. “Anywhere I can help the team, that’s my responsibility.”

The Falcons re-signed center Todd McClure during free agency. Also, Joe Hawley started three games at center last season.

The right guard position was problematic as Garrett Reynolds opened the season as the starter after beating out Mike Johnson. When Reynolds struggled, Hawley took over at right guard.

In the offseason, the Falcons sign guard Vincent Manuwai in free agency.

Konz, 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds, was projected to go late in the first round by most draft analysts. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper had him rated as the top center in the draft.

“He has no peers in this draft,” Kiper said.

Konz, who lifted 225 pounds just 18 times at the NFL scouting combine, needs to improve his upper-body strength. He should be able to lift that weight 25 times. He said he lifted 225 pounds 23 times at his Pro Day.

He is considered quick and agile for his size. He could pull on sweeps and hit moving targets, which was considered a weakness of the line by former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. The line’s lack of mobility was cited when Mularkey was pressed about why he didn’t call more screen passes last season.

Under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the Falcons plan to run more screens. They need some linemen who can pull and eliminate defenders while on the move.

Konz has a interesting medical history. He was placed on blood thinners in 2008 after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. He also has battled through ankle sprains in 2009 and 2010. Last season, he missed three games with a dislocated ankle. He returned to play in the Rose Bowl.

The draft resumes at noon Saturday with the fourth round. The Falcons have four remaining picks — two in the fifth round (157th and 164th overall), the sixth (192nd) and the seventh (249th).

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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204 comments Add your comment

ladyj80

April 27th, 2012
8:46 pm

Brick

April 27th, 2012
8:47 pm

Love the pick. Best center in the draft.

Rick

April 27th, 2012
8:48 pm

falconfan

April 27th, 2012
8:48 pm

Rip

April 27th, 2012
8:48 pm

Another Sam Baker, not strong enough injury prone

Colby

April 27th, 2012
8:48 pm

Great pick. took a need and best available for them

Donny.K

April 27th, 2012
8:48 pm

This is an interesting pick, I would have preferred a G or OT with Hawley replacing McClure next year.

sam

April 27th, 2012
8:49 pm

Man, I thought for sure we’d go for one of the OT’s still on the board. Hope we still have a plan for that.

Khaos

April 27th, 2012
8:50 pm

My problem with the pic…he has durability issues. Couldn’t stay on the field per Kiper. Smells like Baker, Moore, Jerry, and other injury prone picks Dimtroff selects.

Fire Smitty and Dimitroff

pj

April 27th, 2012
8:50 pm

Great value pick for 55. Ask Peyton Manning if a great center is important.

Tallcarl

April 27th, 2012
8:50 pm

Great move, now maybe we can get us a home grown Ga. tightend next.

Richard Alpert

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

Alge Crumpler?? I thought that was Sam Crenshaw!

Reggie

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

Wasnt Hawley suppose to be this guy 2 years ago?

J.J.M.

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

I CAN BENCH 225 20 TIMES DRAFT ME HELL

chuck

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

I would have liked massie now and hoped that Ben Jones lasted til we picked in the 3rd.

Kew

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

@Rip, I don’t think so.

Richham

April 27th, 2012
8:51 pm

Awesome pick. Can play OG or center.

rwc

April 27th, 2012
8:52 pm

injury prone but if healthy good pick

truefalconfan

April 27th, 2012
8:53 pm

so we take a center over most need LT… wtf didnt they take mike adams.. SMH
plus he only benched 18 times

TampaGator

April 27th, 2012
8:54 pm

@Khoas

Fire the head coach and the GM that has brought 4 straight winning seasons to a team that could not have two winning seasons in a row for 20 plus years…..please…..pure ignorance of what is going on with the Falcons.

progeny

April 27th, 2012
8:54 pm

Alge Crumpler has let himself go

Left Coast Dawg

April 27th, 2012
8:54 pm

Bgtodd

April 27th, 2012
8:55 pm

What about Brandon Boykin for secondary and to replace Weems as returner?

TampaGator

April 27th, 2012
8:55 pm

@truefalconfan…

Because Mike Adams has a history of drug use and personal issues…..winning is not just about talent. It is just as much about character. Adams has not shown that off the field.

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
8:55 pm

Cut Khaos. Undersized with poor work ethic?

Troy

April 27th, 2012
8:55 pm

Delbert D.

April 27th, 2012
8:56 pm

It’s harder to lift when your arms are long like Konz. The knock on Baker was that his arms were too short. I’m projecting Dimitroff to dump Baker in a sleight-of-hand 4-way trade.

MG

April 27th, 2012
8:56 pm

Was it me or did Kyper and the rest of the Espn guys seem to not like this guy…last thing we need is a first or second round pick that is constantly injured !

THE FAN

April 27th, 2012
8:56 pm

WHY NOT MIKE ADAMS? I THOUGHT WE HAD THE CENTER OF THE FEATURE…….DUMB!!!!!!!!!

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
8:57 pm

Correction, undersized with poor work ethic(Khaos).

THE FAN

April 27th, 2012
8:57 pm

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
8:58 pm

Khaos is the worst draft pick ever!

Delbert D.

April 27th, 2012
8:58 pm

I benched 225 once, once. I still have the mark on my forehead.

loyal falcon

April 27th, 2012
8:58 pm

I like this pick!

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
8:59 pm

Khaos scored a 2 on the wonderlic.

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
9:00 pm

Cut our losses, cut Khaos.

Seattle Falcons Fan

April 27th, 2012
9:00 pm

Hawley sucks….. Not the center of the future…. Was surprised by the pick, but who can argue taking the best player at a position this late in the draft

Khaos

April 27th, 2012
9:00 pm

Guys who limp off the field appeal to Dimitroff. See Baker and Jerry. I’m all for improving the Oline. However, can we draft guys who can stay on the field and have strength? Does any one remember how Trent Cole pushed Baker around? And what do we do? We draft a guy who barely benched 225?

Fire Smitty and Dimitroff

Paddy

April 27th, 2012
9:00 pm

truefalconfan……the only draft Adams is going to feel is the one coming from under the bars in his jail cell.

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
9:00 pm

fkembucky

April 27th, 2012
9:01 pm

Lifelong badger here. And I know Konz. Forget about the 18 reps at the combine, that was another injury thing. At his pro day he showed his true strength. Bottom line is IF he remains healthy you guys made out like bandits with this pick.

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
9:01 pm

Mel Kiper is Khaos’ general manager.

John

April 27th, 2012
9:01 pm

D.O.L. he did 23 reps with 225 on his pro day.

Seattle Falcons Fan

April 27th, 2012
9:02 pm

The more I think about it, the more I like it

TDnoclue

April 27th, 2012
9:02 pm

Why does TD always draft injury prone players?

Mako

April 27th, 2012
9:03 pm

Uggggg…….

Little Bill

April 27th, 2012
9:03 pm

Khaos says fire smitty and dimitroff and hire Mel Kiper.

Seattle Falcons Fan

April 27th, 2012
9:03 pm

Hawley showed he wasn’t elite…. We got the best center in the draft

tomSERVO

April 27th, 2012
9:03 pm

I like the pick. There are a couple of guys at a pretty similar level so choosing one over the others was likely a challenge.

Konz is a good player. His history seems to demonstrate he’s a good character guy and a leader. Obviously he’s seen as he replacement for McClure (retiring ‘13) and will likely get his share of plays in the normal player rotation.

bp

April 27th, 2012
9:04 pm

delbert that was funny!