The 2010 NFL Off-Season is inching ever so closer as the NFL Scouting Combine concludes on Tuesday. The combine can be seen as the official kickoff to the NFL Off-Season. The combine comes first, which then leads into free agency (although looking to be a mild one), Pro Days, and finally the NFL Draft in April. The scouting combine can be a great area for many players to showcase their superb talents and measurables, and either rise or fall on teams draft boards. Quoted by many experts as one of the deepest drafts in history, the Falcons will be in a prime position to add immediate impact players and also stockpile talent for the future. The Birds are expected to have 8 draft picks (5 of their own and 3 compensatory picks) when the NFL Draft rolls around.
The NFL Scouting Combine is a place where some players can vault up the boards with teams and general managers in love with measurables, strength, speed, and power. But any superb GM will tell you that the combine is but only one part of the entire process. Many football players may drop some if they simply had a bad day (Jonathan Dwyer may have run slow in the combine, but is a beast on the field) and some players may overextend in the weight room, while lacking necessary skills with the pads on. If nothing else, the scouting combine helps to raise awareness among hardcore fans on who to keep an eye on for the next month and half (51 days to be exact). Here’s a few players the Falcons may have their eye on and had a good combine:
With the news from DOL in his new combine blog that the Falcons likely won’t target defensive end with the first pick, the possibility of drafting an outside linebacker got that much bigger. The stellar rookie years of last year’s 1st round outside linebackers (Brian Cushing – Defensive Rookie of the Year, Clay Matthews Jr & Brian Orakpo making the Pro Bowl), taking a chance on an OLB first is more common than it used to be.
6’1 – 239 – 4.68 Forty Time – 34 Bench Press x225 – 40 inch Vertical Jump
One of the early fan favorites for Atlanta Falcon fans (at least here in the Bird Cage). This would seem to be a match made in heaven with Weatherspoon grading out right around the top 20 range by many draft gurus and sites, the Falcons picking 19th, and having an enormous need at outside linebacker with Mike Peterson turning 34 and fading quickly in the last year of his contract. Had an excellent combine ranking 2nd among all LB’s in the bench press (34), tying for 2nd in the vertical jump (40 inches), and running a very quick 4.68 forty yard dash. Is arguably one of the best linebacker prospects in the draft and reportedly had a very good interview with the Falcons. Measured 6’1, an inch under what many listed him as 6’2. Is slow to react sometimes and will need to work on his blitzing skills. Only racked up 4.5 sacks last year, but still one of the most popular picks.
6’3 – 250 – 4.71 Forty Time – 25 Bench Press x225 – 36.5 Vertical Jump
Kindle is still officially listed as a defensive end and it has been reported that he will look to make the conversion to outside linebacker, but nothing has been confirmed. Has impressive size and can add even more weight on his frame. Had a good combine in terms of his 40 yard dash, but came up a little short when he was only able to bench 25 reps, compared to Sean Weatherspoon’s 34 and DT Jeff Owens 44. Kindle was also out-jumped by most linebackers. May be best suited as an OLB in a 3-4, instead of the 4-3 the Falcons run. If he were to play weakside linebacker, Kindle would seemingly have issues in coverage. Even so, Kindle is considered a pass-rushing specialist and that’s exactly what the Falcons need.
6’0 – 242 – No Forty Time – 26 Bench Press x225
A player that is all over the map in terms of which draft website or guru you see or hear from. Bowman is a little short for most OLB’s and had a pretty good combine in terms of bench press, but chose not to run the 40 time, which probably raises some serious doubts. Dimitroff takes high interest in drafting senior who were excellent leaders and played out there entire college career. Will probably be sliding down several boards with the emergence of Weatherspoon and Kindle.
6’1 – 245 – Did Not Participate in 40 Time or Bench Press
Norwood had made a case to be the 3rd best linebacker after Kindle (assuming his conversion to OLB) and Weatherspoon, but the combine wasn’t friendly to Eric Norwood in that he didn’t compete in 40 yard dash or bench press. Appears to have been passed by several prospects, at least according to several draft gurus. Daryl Washington, Navarro Bowman, and possibly others may have leapt Norwood.
6’2 – 230 – 4.66 Forty Time – 17 Bench Press x225
Washington certainly helped himself to be the next linebacker taken after Kindle and Weatherspoon, according to Mike Mayock of NFL.com. Washington had one of the better 40 times and looked good in drills. Has a frame to add more weight at the next level, but had a poor showing in terms of bench press (17) where many wide receivers had more than that. Likely not a 1st round selection, but could be jumping up charts.
6’1 – 240 – 4.56 Forty – 24 Bench Press x225 – 40 inch Vertical Jump
Watson likely helped himself a lot at the scouting combine. Watson was largely considered to be a mid-rounder, and still might be, but the combination of his size (240 lbs) and running the second fastest 40 time (4.56) will perk many scouts and general managers interests. Had 6.5 sacks his senior year and was one of FSU’s best defenders. Seriously struggles in coverage skills and that’s a main area the Falcons need to improve over Peterson’s skill set. Obviously not a first round OLB, but if the Falcons go elsewhere at #19, than Watson could be on the radar.
The Atlanta Falcons will surely be in the market for an outside linebacker and the early returns suggest that Dimitroff will be taking a hard look at OLB at #19 in the NFL Draft. He could definitely be sending up smoke screens, but the likelihood that at least one impact outside linebacker will be there is a good bet.
What’s your thoughts on the top linebackers and how they performed at the Scouting Combine? Did Weatherspoon lock himself in as the early favorite? Does Kindle have more upside than ‘Spoon? Could the Falcons look to possibly trade back, pick up draft picks, and target someone like Washington, Bowman, or Norwood?
Enjoy and Go Falcons!!!!!…………..
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