FLOWERY BRANCH — The rookie draft class has 11 practices under their belts, that about the equivalent of the first quarter of training camp.
Here’s a look at how the rookie draft picks have performed through the first 11 practices, from the perspectives of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Also, Professor Led checks in with his grades:
Koetter on Peter Konz (second round, 55th overall): Konz had a strong showing in the physical short-yardage drill at the close of practice Tuesday. He cleared paths for running back Dimitri Nance to score from 1 yard and 2 yards out.
“He’s doing well,” Koetter said. “He’s played both right guard and center and is doing a good job at both spots.” Professor Led’s Grade: A. I did see him get knocked back on one block, but he recovered and finished his block. The competition along the offensive line is going to pick up over the next 10 days. The lineup for the third exhibition game will be your projected starters.
On tackle Lamar Holmes (third round, 91st): He has been limited in camp after recovering from a foot injury. Koetter elected not to give an evaluation on him since he’s not fully participating in practice. Professor Led’s grade: Incomplete. We’ll keep an eye on the big guy and let you know when he’s a full participant. I can’t wait to see him get after it.
On Bradie Ewing (fifth round, 157th overall): He’s attempting to beat out Mike Cox and replace Ovie Mughelli, who recently signed with the St. Louis Rams.
“He’s a fast learner,” Koetter said. “He’s obviously well-prepared coming out of his college. It’s a good battle with him and Mike Cox at fullback right now.” Professor Led’s Grade: B. He’s moving around well. Coach Gerald Brown has done a nice job getting him ready so fast.
Like Koetter, Nolan has three draft picks on defense.
Nolan on defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (fifth round, 164th): He has drawn the ire of defensive line coach Ray Hamilton in the early practices. One day, Hamilton threatened to decrease his reps if he didn’t start following directions.
“He’s very talented and very raw,” Nolan said. “He has a lot to learn, but is very talented. He’s very explosive and will flash often. Sometimes doing his job; sometimes not. I think we are all excited about the potential that he has. He’ll just have to continue to mature, but he’s a good prospect.” Professor Led’s Grade: B. He’ll figure things out and know what Hamilton demands as camp progresses.
On safety Charles Mitchell (sixth round, 192nd): He is looking good in the special-teams drills, while he’s finding his way in the secondary.
“Mitchell is a guy that we are working at the safety position,” Nolan said. “He needs to give us some depth there. We hope that he does and also helps us in the special-teams area. With the signing of Chris Hope, it’s a little tougher on him to get into that second group. At the same time, he’s a guy that we are counting on, if not to play some regularly, be a special teams guys.
“He’s a very bright guy. He’s a very hard-working guy. A very conscientious player and he has responded well to the things we are doing.” Professor Led’s Grade: A. He is very athletic and we like the smart guys who pick things up fast. That will allow him to play at his top speed early.
On defensive tackle Travian Robertson (seventh round, 249th): With starting defensive tackle Corey Peters out with a foot injury, he is getting more repetitions at nose tackle.
“He’s a big strong guy that has a lot to learn as far as techniques go, but again he’s a big strong guy,” Nolan said. “We’ll just see how it goes when we get the pads on full time. For the linemen it’s really too early to tell. … Running around in their underwear is not really too impressive.” Professor Led’s Grade: B. He’s a big and sturdy kid. Guards will have trouble pushing him around. I want to see how he holds up in the scrimmage and ing the first exhibition game against Baltimore on Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
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–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog