It’s been a hot topic even since Sam Baker was first drafted. It’s a little unfair to call Baker a bust since he was very productive for 2 seasons, including one of the best years in franchise history going 13-3 and claiming the NFC’s #1 seed.
That being said, however, it’s not a stretch to say that Baker is not a franchise left tackle gping forward. Will Svitek proved to be capable in Baker’s absence, but he’s not a long-term answer either.
Thomas Dimitroff said there would be an open competition for all OL positions and he followed though on that promise for right guard (Mike Johnson, Andrew Jackson, Vince Manuwai) and center (Joe Hawley & Todd McClure). But the same can’t really be said for left tackle. If fans feel that Baker or Svitek legitimately win the job, most wouldn’t have an issue. But not adding at least one more player to the competition won’t inspire confidence in most.
That leads many to believe the Falcons top brass may finally have a left tackle in their sights as the draft approaches. A look at some of the candidates in various rounds:
Thanks to the following sites for excellent draft scouting and information:
Ohio State – 6’7 – 323
Arms: 34 inches – Hands: 10’7/8 – Forty Time: 5.40 – Bench: 19
Adams is considered by most draftniks to be the 4th tackle taken after the big three of Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, and Jonathan Martin, who all are expected to go in the first round. Adams surely has the size, frame, and weight to be a prototypical left tackle. He is very strong in pass blocking and can get to the next level on defenders. Adams shows flashes of a nasty streak that teams want. The Ohio State tackle lacks superb technique, but has the tools. Some even consider him a 1st round selection. Has had major injury concerns including missing a ton of games due to shoulder surgery, a season-ending left foot injury, and knee injury. He’s also had some off-the-field concerns as well including being a part of the infamous tattoo parlor scandal. Adams could be an option, but the Falcons already have had issues with high draft picks and injuries (Baker, Jerry).
Florida State – 6’6 – 320
Arms: 35 inches – Hands: 10’7/8 – Forty Time: 5.41 – Bench: 28
Sanders is becoming an early favorite of Falcons fans including our very own Seminole Warrior. An excellent run blocker that hits high grades in every aspect of blocking. Sanders possesses a perfect frame and weight for a franchise left tackle and is a very agile pass protector with good hand placement. Sanders ranks very high in the area of intangibles including high character, durability, and work ethic. The former Seminole played in a zone pass protection that some believe the offensive line may be going towards. Sanders did have trouble with one-on-one speed rushers and will need to add bulk to be a franchise left tackle and deal with the big boys of the NFL. Sanders may not even be around by the time the Falcons draft, but its hard to think this wouldn’t be a great pick if he’s there.
California – 6’5 – 318
Arms: 33’1/2 inches – Hands: 10 – Forty Time: 5.45 – Bench: 23
Schwartz was the model of consistency at Cal starting 51 games at left tackle and 16 at right tackle for the Golden Bears. Doesn’t have superior strength, but has good agility and technique to go along with a high motor. Some scouts believe him to be a right tackle prospect, but after a good showing at the Senior Bowl where he held his own with some of the country’s best pass rushers, many think is a good prospect that could eventually be developed into a left tackle in the NFL. Schwartz could be a good pick if the Falcons want to develop a left tackle to take over down the road as opposed to wanting immediate help.
UAB – 6’6 – 308
Arms: 35’3/8 inches – Hands: 9’1/4 – Forty Time: 5.52 – Bench: 17
McCants represents another tackle that has potential, but would be a major project to develop if the Falcons drafted him. McCants was late to football, joining his high school team as a senior. Started left tackle as a true freshman and went on to start 42 games for the Blazers. McCants was named first team All-Conference USA. Has good height, but doesn’t have much power or strength and has smaller hands for a left tackle. Would definitely be a major project and wouldn’t be expected to contribute right away.
Illinois – 6’4 – 307
Arms: 33’1/2 inches – Hands: 10 – Forty Time: 5.28 – Bench: 26
Allen seems to be a potential reach in the 3rd round and would really be better suited for a 4th round pick. He garnered 47 starts while at Illinois in the Big Ten and matched up pretty well with some of the better edge rushers. Many scouts believe him to be better suited for a guard position or right tackle candidate more than a left tackle project.
South Dakota – 6’5 – 314
Arms: 34 inches – Hands: 10 – Forty Time: 5.11 – Bench: 20
If the Falcons decide to pass on a tackle prospect in the earlier rounds, a prospect like Compton could be appealing. Unlike Garrett Reynolds, Compton could develop into a left tackle starter at some point. He has a nice size and frame for the position and dominated on lower competition in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Compton has excellent power and decent lateral agility. Some believe he will struggle against the top-level competition in the NFL, especially on the blind side.
Florida State – 6’6 – 315
Arms: 33’7/8 inches – Hands: 10 – Forty Time: 5.32
Datko has a lot of potential as a developmental blocker on the blindside, but he has been hampered by injuries dating throughout his college career and all the way back to high school. Datko is very fluid for a big man and could be a major asset in a zone-blocking scheme.
Southern Mississippi – 6’5 – 323
Arms: 35’1/4 inches – Hands: 9’5/8 – Forty Time: 5.41 – Bench: 22
Holmes seems to have a ton of upside, but is very, very raw. Has many of the tools that many look for in a left tackle. Good mirroring technique, but is not explosive in any aspect. His tools could be developed, but Holmes would at least be one year away from contributing if not more.
Oklahoma – 6’6 – 312
Arms: 34’7/8 inches – Hands: 9’7/8 – Forty Time: 4.94 – Bench: 19
Has raw tools that could develop into a left tackle one day, but needs a lot of learning. Nice long arms and very athletic for an offensive tackle, being one of the only prospects to run under 5.0 in the forty yard dash. Stephenson has a wide base and can mirror well, but possesses bad habits and would take a lot of development.
Nebraska – 6’6 – 320
Arms: 33’5/8 inches – Hands: 10’1/8 – Forty Time: 5.67 – Bench: 13
Oklahoma State – 6’5 – 322
Forty Time: 5.21 – Bench: 23
1) Should Falcons go LT @ #55?
2) Which of the prospects would you like?
3) Is LT a good choice in second round?
4) Are you comfortable with only Baker and Svitek @ LT?
5) What priority is LT on your list?