The 2010 NFL Draft is barely over the horizon and will officially be three weeks away as of Thursday. Fans and draftniks alike have settled around defensive end and outside linebacker as the two biggest options for the Falcons at #19. Brandon Graham and Sean Weatherspoon are the two favorites among the media and Bird fans alike. The possibility of both players being gone has definitely entered the mock draft projections recently. Many believe that Thomas Dimitroff and Company may elect to go center or guard at #19. The idea makes many fans happy since the offensive line situation is very vulnerable heading into this season, with Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock all entering their last year of their contract and Todd McClure may retire at any time.
It’s almost a certainty that the Falcons will draft at least one or more offensive lineman, but the big mystery remains on when and where the Birds will elect to pick their O-Lineman. Although a few names like Florida center Markice Pouncey and Idaho guard Mike Iupati have made the most headlines, there are many prospects who can be taken later in the draft and offer almost as much upside, even if not as NFL ready. A look at some of the targets the Falcons may have their eye on:
Special thanks to DraftCountdown.com and NFLDraftScout.com for their superior draft analysis and prospect rankings
*Prospects considered to be taken in the second round or higher weren’t included since the Falcons don’t own a second round pick
27 Bench Reps – 5.15 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
One of the smartest and more athletic centers in the draft this year. Very quick and tough, and finishes blocks off very well in the passing game. Has a nasty streak that Coach Boudreau covets. Good worth ethic and proven leader. Connection to Matt Ryan can’t be denied. Finalist for top center award in the country. Some liability in the run game and not the biggest center in the world. Slotted as the second best center by NFLDraftScout and number 3 center by DraftCountdown. Projected to go anywhere between 2nd and 4th round.
24 Bench Reps – 5.19 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Walton took home 1st Team All-America honors at center in 2009 and has the non-stop motor that Coach Smith likes in his players. Extremely productive in the run game and can get to the second level on linebackers. Can be very stout at point of attack. Has some issues in quickness and agility, particularly in the run game. Listed as 2nd best center by DraftCountdown and slotted to go in the 2nd or 3rd round. Listed as the 3rd best center by NFLDraftScout and projected to go in the 3rd or 4th round.
Olsen was called the heart and soul of the offensive line by former coach Charlie Weis. Olsen started in the middle of his sophomore year and junior year at guard before moving over to center in his senior year. Allowed only one sack in 450 pass attempts. Has a great punch but struggles in recovery. Extremely strong and powerful in run game with a good drive. Rated as the 4th best center in the draft by NFLDraftScout and projected to go in the 4th or 5th round. Has the ability to play multiple positions on the OL, something that Coach Smith and Coach Boudreau train their lineman to do.
26 Bench Reps – 5.19 Forty Time – 2 Year Starter
Larsen is a former defensive tackle who moved over from the defensive line to center after his sophomore year. Good strength and balance in pass blocking, but hasn’t perfected his shotgun snap. Has a lot of power to knock defenders to the ground in pancake fashion and displays a nasty streak at times. High intensity player. Slotted by NFLDraftScout to go somewhere in the 5th or 6th round.
Bench Reps N/A – 5.22 Forty Time – 4 Year Starter
Estes leaves Hawaii with an NCAA record 54 consecutive starts on the offensive line. Started at guard his freshman year before moving over to center. Played in a spread offense, so his transition to a pro-style might be a big question mark concerning teams drafting him. Lacks the bulk and physical nature that many teams desire, particularly in the run game. Good pass blocking, but struggles against big defensive tackles, a new trend in the NFL. Slotted to be taken in the 6th or 7th round by NFLDraftScout. Listed way down as #8 center by DraftCountdown.com
35 Bench Reps – 5.21 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Hawley has played several positions on the offensive line including guard and center. Only allowed one QB sack in his senior year. Slotted as a late, 7th round draftee, but the Falcons have reportedly scheduled a private workout with Hawley.
Bench Reps N/A – 5.08 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Asamoah has very good size and speed that projects to either guard position. Had 267 career pancakes according to the Illinois coaching staff. Only allowed four QB sacks and 4 pressures over his final two seasons. Has a nasty streak and is an excellent locker room presence. Very agile and quick in pass blocking. Superb run blocker in short situations and can easily move big nose tackles out of the way. Academic All-American who is ranked as the #2 guard to go in round 2, but is slotted as #4 guard by DraftCountdown to go somewhere in 4th round or after.
Bench Reps N/A – 5.37 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Johnson has amazing pedigree as the unquestioned leader of Alabama’s drive to the National Championship and leading Mark Ingram to the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Started 41 consecutive games, including 2 seasons in which they only lost 2 games. Quite possibly the most versatile linemen in the entire draft, making 26 starts at left guard, 10 at right tackle, three at right guard, and two at left guard. Excellent upper-body strength and good balance to protect the quarterback in the pass game. Amazing versatiliy that screams for Coach Smith and Coach Boudreau to take a look at him. Ranked as the #5 guard by DraftCountdown and slotted for the 4th round or later. NFLDraftScout has Johnson as #3 guard and to go in the 3rd or 4th round. Premiere college lineage in SEC.
27 Bench Reps – 5.28 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Beadles drew comparisons to former Utah All-American Jordan Gross. Has played both tackle and guard and matches up very well against opposing defensive ends and outside linebackers, rarely getting beat on the outside. Ran a spread offense, which will have issues for some teams in converting to a pro-style offense, particularly in the run game. Rated as the #5 OG by NFLDraftScout and slotted for the 4th round or later.
25 Bench Reps – 4.99 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Started for the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs in 2009 until loss in Fiesta Bowl. Named All-Conference in each of his three years as starter at left tackle. Projects inside as a guard and has shown the ability to play all OL positions except center. Not experienced as a pulling or trapping guard and may have some issues in transitioning to guard from tackle. Very strong and good run blocker and lateral quickness may change over well to guard. Slotted as 6th best OG prospect and projected to go in the 5th round.
33 Bench Reps – 5.22 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Very versatile lineman who has started at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle. Has potential to be a future NFL starter with superior work ethic and good size for a guard. Has good initial punch and possesses ability to get to the next level on linebackers. Projected to go somewhere in the 5th round or after.
23 Bench Reps – 5.53 Forty Time – 4 Year Starter
Possibly would have been an early selection if he had come out after his junior year. After starting entire career at left tackle, Black was moved inside to guard at the NFL Scouting Combine. Has a very good drive in run-blocking and should translate pretty well to guard since he started his entire career at left tackle in the SEC. Has superb size, but very low bench reps and slow forty time. Lacks versatility that Falcons crave. Slotted to go somewhere between 5th and 6th round.
19 Bench Reps – 5.52 Forty Time – 3 Year Starter
Scott possesses good adaptability starting at both right guard and left tackle. Very athletic for a big man and proved it on the field in the SEC, allowing only 3 sacks in 519 passing attempts. Scott has good hand control and shows good shuffling of his feet. Has ability to ride defenders out of the entire play. Weight might be an issue, but the transition to guard from tackle might be an extremely good smart fit. Extremely good run blocker and may be a steal for a team willing to take a chance on him. Slotted for 6th or 7th round by NFLDraftScout.
*Several draft sites didn’t include offensive tackles that may project to guard such as John Jerry and Roger Saffold to name a few.
No one has much of an idea on what direction that Dimitroff plans to go in terms of the offensive line. Surely he has some sort of idea on who he wants to keep on the current O-Line. All 3 guards are set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2010 season, so its hard to imagine TD won’t draft an OL, especially one who is versatile. Another big question is whether the Falcons will draft a center this year to groom for the future. Brett Romberg likely won’t give up a spot without a fight, but much will be known on where the Falcons take their O-Lineman come draft day.
-Should the Falcons take both a center and a guard?
-What center should the Falcons take and when?
-What guard should the Falcons take and when?